Nobody get pissed. I’m as big a Stoker mark as the next guy. Bigger than most. But even as a hardcore fan, I have to admit that Bram Stoker’s work is of varying quality. At the top of the heap sits DRACULA, a true classic in every sense of the word. But what about Stoker’s other works? Critics have gone on record saying that DRACULA is the exception rather than the rule, that DRACULA in fact represents the only *good* book Bram Stoker ever wrote. I don’t agree with that. I’ve read some really good Stoker stories—THE BURIAL OF THE RATS comes to mind—and some not so good ones. (THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM is far from the man’s best.) If we weigh all of Stoker’s writing, the total is greater than the sum of its parts. Bram Stoker then qualifies as a great writer, even if some of his stories do kinda suck. I would go so far as to argue that, even if *all* his other stories suck, he would still be a great writer, based upon DRACULA alone. How many times does one have to paint the Sistine Chapel, anyway?
As much as I admire the man, however, I do tend to view Stoker differently than other authors I admire. Tolkien and his THE LORD OF THE RINGS sit on the same level, inseparable in my estimations. Robert E. Howard and Conan the Barbarian are, in some intangible ways, the same person. Poe is a Rock star to me. But where Bram Stoker is concerned, it is DRACULA that I love, the book, and the character. Dracula seems “bigger” than Bram Stoker’s imagination, and not just because there was an historical Dracula. It’s more like Stoker tapped into a preexisting archetype, rediscovered something that already lurked in the shadows. Does this explain why DRACULA stands heads and shoulders above everything else Stoker wrote?