Dracula and The Irish Literary Revival

Brown’s “Cultural Nationalism” traces the forces that shaped Ireland’s cultural and literary atmospheres during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of course, these two hemispheres are not mutually exclusive: they’re informed and continually shaped by the other.

Through 1880-1930, there was a collective push among the Irish towards forging their own cultural identity, as this would bolster their stance in declaring political independence. The Irish Literary Revival in the late 19th century embodied this quintessential Irish spirit that found a place in literature. This period saw a shift from dominant modes of literary production, such as the Victorian novel, to a style of Irish literature that was defined by its inclination towards symbolism, objectivity, and what Brown refers to as the “self-reflexive text” (520). This revolutionary vision was also marked by its shift away from realism. Texts produced within this framework of this period appealed to the mystical and the mysterious, reflecting anxieties about religion and spirituality that were upended by burgeoning scientific thought.

Image source: https://www.grafik.net/category/books/count-culture

Brown’s article truly contextualized my understanding of the literary environment in which the novel was written. Throughout my time as an English major, I have never encountered a British novel that is unafraid to explore such anxiety provoking themes that Stoker delves into in Dracula. The Gothic novel, already dark in its atmosphere, is undeniably uncanny and deeply unsettling. Stoker seems to be appealing to some primal qualities that, whether we accept it or not, exist within all of us. This is especially evident through the ways in which vampires, especially the feminine versions, represent repressed sexual desire in a grotesque form. Dracula is a novel that is deeply concerned with the idea of terror and the inexplicable, as seen in the perturbed sleep and behavior many of the characters succumb to following their encounters with the Count in his vampirous form.

Dracula is not concerned with realism in the slightest; the characters’ fears spin around inside of their heads, they grapple with issues that are inexplicable. While this guise of myth and horror is sensational, Stoker’s novel establishes itself as a prime example of the Irish literary spirit that sought to forge its own path and dive headfirst into the unknown.


  1. Hi Taryn! I completely agree with your post and your statement that Dracula can be seen as “contextualizing the literary environment in which the novel was written”. I really enjoyed the connection you made between the fact that Ireland was trying to distinguish themselves culturally through venturing away from realism, and that as a body of work Dracula is undeniably provocative and far from realism. Ireland’s wish to claim an independent identity eventually paid off, and they achieved a breakthrough with the Home Rule Act of 1912.

  2. Hi Taryn, I definitely see the influence that the literary movement had on the book Dracula and how it was shown in the book.I enjoyed reading your analysis on the book and how you related to Ireland and how the book represented them being away from realism. Through this book we can really get a sense of how Irish writer came to pave their own path and create a literature of their own in which they felt identified with.

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