Wednesday, November 15, 2023

This can't be good

So, have you ever had that experience where you're reading a book and realize halfway through that you've read it before? I had something of the sort happened to me last week, only slightly weirder.

I'd been reading two books, going back and forth between them, when I lost track of where I was in one book. It was the denser of the two but  you think  I'd be able to skim around in it and find where I'd been, but this turned out not to be the case. I eventually picked a spot I felt reasonably certain about, and read on from that point--better to overread than underread, I decided.

In my defense, the book I got lost in is Timothy S. Murphy's new detailed, dense, and complex study of WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON AND THE RISE OF THE WEIRD: POSSIBILITIES OF THE DARK.* I'm glad to see the case made for Hodgson being one of the greats, but I found it a difficult book to unpack. Murphy is capable of committing a sentence like 

We might say that The House on the Borderlands 

(1908) presents a fantastically accelerated 

diachronic overview of deep cosmological

time's abyss as Hodgson imagines it. (Murphy .132)**

The other book, by the way, is BRAM STOKER: A BIOGRAPHY OF THE AUTHOR OF DRACULA by Barbara Belford (1996), which does a good job of showing how Stoker was linked to contemporaries like Wilde, Shaw, Gilbert, and, more surprisingly, Whitman and Twain. Unfortunately Belford has A Theory*** she keeps dragging in without ever really making a case for. Pity.

--John R.

--current reading: resting the brain with the newest Murderbot book, just out on Kindle.

*As a connoisseur of footnotes, I have to say I admire Murphy's ability to pack so much into his title, which essentially consists of title, subtitle, and sub-subtitle.

**I shd note that his book is part of the series Perspectives on Fantasy (2023)

***briefly, that Stoker had a female side he sought to find expression for.

Thanks, Andrew.
If that's the case, wish Belford had been more forthright about that side of Stoker

1 comment:

ATMachine said...

FYI, Belford isn't the only scholar to think along those lines. David J. Skal's 2016 biography Something In The Blood paints Stoker as a gay man in a loveless marriage (his bride, Florence Balcombe, was previously betrothed to Oscar Wilde). Among other things, Skal's book includes the text of effusive fan letters Stoker wrote to Walt Whitman as a young man, in which Stoker alludes knowingly to Whitman's homosexual subtext; the book also details visits Stoker made to call on Whitman in person during the course of some of Henry Irving's theatrical tours of America.

For reasons like this, it's basically a critical consensus that Stoker was privately gay at this point.

- Andrew McCarthy (ATM)