Friday, October 04, 2013

Telegraph for Garlic – review

Edited by: Samia Ounoughi

First published: 2013

Contains spoilers

The blurb: “I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth.

The novels, ’Dracula’ by Bram Stoker and ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shalley, dominate gothic horror. Both novels inspire anxiety and create unease. ‘Telegraph for Garlic’ is the successor to the earlier Red Rattle publication, ‘Frankenstein Galvanized’.

‘Telegraph for Garlic’ contains analysis of the Bram Stoker classic by previously published French and English academics whose range represents the various strands of literary theory. It also includes relevant extracts from the novel and the Bram Stoker short story ‘Dracula’s Guest’. To bring the vampire tradition up to date, author, Howard Jackson, writes about ’Fright Night’ and ’I am Legend’.

The review: I do like to read an academic analysis of Dracula, I may not necessarily agree with the author’s viewpoint but I enjoy the exploration, the argument, the digging into the subtext of the novel – recognising that sometimes a novel will contain a subtext that the author him(or her)self might not have realised they had laced into the fabric of their prose.

This volume contains six papers on Dracula and then the two additional essays by Howard Jackson that the blurb mentions. I think overall my favourite was “Sweeter and Lovelier than Ever: Re-reading Lucy” by Helena Ifill. I am firmly of the opinion that Lucy has been mistreated by various commentators and filmmakers over the years and Ifill champions her cause masterfully.

Other contributions look at politics, religion and madness, amongst other subjects. In fact there is a refreshing range of essays within. Being critical for a moment, the essential extracts from Stoker's novel were, perhaps, not that essential. Given the public domain status of the book even the most casual reader can pick up a free e-edition and most enthusiasts will have several editions of Dracula I am sure (I know I have). That said there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the extracts  but I would have preferred to see an extra paper instead. Howard Jackson’s essays are less of a pure academic exploration, rather they are well written enthusiast essays and enjoyable as such.

However the thing that really draws me to Telegraph for Garlic is the price. Even the slimmest reference books are notoriously expensive, but Red Rattle books have released this with the rrp of £6.99 ($10.99). Kudos for making a work like this affordable. 8 out of 10.

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