Posted on September 23rd, 2009 at 10:14 pm by ginam
In researching Walt Whitman’s Camden years I was interested in the literary companions he kept. He formed an interesting relationship with Bram Stoker and the two exchanged letters while Stoker was composing Dracula. In Reynold’s biography he discusses their relationship and the high level of respect they had for one another (Reynolds). Stoker even seems to have based his famous character, Dracula, on the poet. Stoker is quoted: “Dracula represented the quintessential male which, to Stoker, was Whitman” (Nuzum 144). It’s a strange context for me to consider Whitman as “the quintessential male” becasue he seems so highly anti-masculine in his adoration of woman and his questionable sexuality. But in the larger frame of Stoker’s work, Dracula represents a dying age and a dying breed of the liberated man sacrificed to the Victorian Age. In that regard, Dracula and Whitman seem more alike since the strict religious regulations of the Victorians would have offended Whitman’s spiritually free stance on faith, sexuality, and nature. Is it a compliment to Whitman’s character that he inspired the character of Dracula, or is it a commentary on the state of the aging poet?
Nuzum, Eric. The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula. Thomas Dunne Books, 2007: 141–147.
Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Vintage, 1995.