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The Forgotten Writings of Bram Stoker ed. by John Edgar Browning (review)

From: Victorian Periodicals Review
Volume 46, Number 2, Summer 2013
pp. 283-284 | 10.1353/vpr.2013.0017

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John Edgar Browning’s edited collection of short stories, journalism, and other materials by Bram Stoker is an important contribution to scholarship on Stoker, nineteenth-century publishing practices, and nineteenth-century periodicals scholarship. Although the content of the volume will be of interest to readers in all of these areas, it is unfortunate that Browning did not choose to elucidate his research methods. Furthermore, scholars of periodicals will be disappointed to find that the publication information for each piece is buried in the footnotes. Such an arrangement makes it difficult to immediately evaluate the contextual importance of the piece and its publication history. If, as Browning implicitly argues, the diversity of publications and the location of publication matters, then such data should be front and center.

The volume’s collection of short fiction and journalism, along with its inclusion of other materials, such as a catalog from the sale of Stoker’s effects, will no doubt be of interest to Stoker scholars. Of particular utility to those who wish to move beyond the Dracula myopia that afflicts some Stoker scholars are the short stories “When the Sky Rains Gold,” “Bengal Roses,” “A Young Widow,” and “A Baby Passenger.” Here we see Stoker engaging with and ultimately rejecting the “adventures for boys and men” style of fiction popularized by H. Rider Haggard and Rudyard Kipling in favor of a more nuanced representation of masculinity. In the four stories, the male protagonists flirt with muscular heroism, only to reject it (though often not consciously) for a kind of emotionally sensitive or nuanced heroism. In doing so, the protagonists become more fully rounded characters bearing strong resemblance to the kind of men detailed in James Eli Adams’s Dandies and Desert Saints (1995).

In her foreword, Elizabeth Miller contends that Browning is “leading the field” in digital archival work (xvii). Yet sadly, neither Miller nor Browning details what techniques were used to uncover and process the pieces presented here. Browning himself notes that the digital humanities are rarely “easy work,” yet he does not explain the methods he used, other than to say he and his team engaged in “intense archival inquiry” (1). If the digital humanities are to be more than a mystery, some kind of black box, then those engaged in the field should detail their tools and methods. In particular, those “leading the field” should use their introductions and forewords to guide new, established, and emerging scholars in the methods deployed. Scholarship that cloaks its methods is rather a kind of mysticism and thus an exclusivity that digital humanities with its promise of access should work against. Perhaps if Browning devoted less space to summarizing the stories and connecting them to Dracula, he would have had more time to detail his methods and to connect the stories to wider nineteenth-century contexts.

Overall, however, The Forgotten Writings of Bram Stoker is a fine addition to Stoker studies, and the volume does help scholars of periodicals better understand the transatlantic nature of periodical publishing in the nineteenth century.

Scott D. Banville  

Scott D. Banville is an assistant professor and writing program administrator in the Department of Languages and Literature at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. His research focuses on Victorian popular culture, especially music halls and illustrated periodicals. He is the author of articles on Victorian popular culture, including “Ally Sloper’s Half-Holiday: The Geography of Class in Late-Victorian Britain,” published in VPR.

Copyright ©2013 The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Scott D. Banville. "The Forgotten Writings of Bram Stoker ed. by John Edgar Browning (review)." Victorian Periodicals Review 46.2 (2013): 283-284. Project MUSE. Web. 22 Jul. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Banville, S. D.(2013). The Forgotten Writings of Bram Stoker ed. by John Edgar Browning (review). Victorian Periodicals Review 46(2), 283-284. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved July 22, 2013, from Project MUSE database.
Scott D. Banville. "The Forgotten Writings of Bram Stoker ed. by John Edgar Browning (review)." Victorian Periodicals Review 46, no. 2 (2013): 283-284. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed July 22, 2013).
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