The intelligibility of the past in Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars
in Victorian literary culture and ancient Egypt
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This chapter considers Bram Stoker’s novel The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903) within the broader context of archaeological fiction, a genre that is characterised by detailed description of artefacts and strategic citation of authorities. Stoker’s credibility as a novice Egyptologist is suggested through his setting of an ancient Egyptian tomb in the Valley of the Sorcerer, an obvious parallel to Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens, and his apparent basing of his fictional Queen Tera on the real pharaoh Hatshepsut. Equally significant, this chapter demonstrates, is his synthesis of the Egyptological writings of E. A. Wallis Budge, Flinders Petrie and Amelia Edwards into his depiction of the journey to the ‘beyond’. Stoker, as this chapter shows, relies on a wealth of academic writing to weave his fiction; the role of the narrator is to peruse relevant archaeological studies and scrutinise symbolically charged artefacts, becoming the intermediary who functions not only as a conduit between the ancient past and the modern present, but also the fictional world that Stoker creates and the real world from which he gleans a substantial quantity of Egyptological detail.

Editor: Eleanor Dobson

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