This essay examines The Lair of the White Worms cultural logic, its mobilization of that dense network of specific historical references - to mesmerism, physiognomy, alienism, degeneration, and theories of race - which underlies so much of Bram Stoker‘s output. It is argued that Stokers last novel can serve as a kind of summa for Stoker‘s entire oeuvre, casting a retrospective eye over precisely those ethnological concerns that had animated his writings from beginning to end. For, in Stoker‘s imaginary the monstrous is always inscribed within a topography of race that his novels at once challenge and confirm by bringing pressure to bear on the whole scientific project of a general anthropology at its most vulnerable point: the distinction between the human and the near-human, between the species form and its exceptions.
Margaret Harkness, George Eastmont, Wanderer (1905), and the 1889 Dockworkers’ Strike
George Eastmont: Wanderer sealed Margaret Harkness’s disengagement from the socialist politics with which she had been actively involved since the 1880s. Its broad canvas also marked another key departure: the turn from late nineteenth-century slum fiction to the reinvigorated condition of England novel that characterised the Edwardian era. Unusually for Harkness, who wrote her books extremely quickly, George Eastmont: Wanderer underwent a long period of gestation. First mooted in the months following the 1889 Dockworkers’ Strike, the novel’s pivotal and deeply traumatic event, Harkness’s major work did not appear until some fifteen years later. This chapter attempts to decipher the painful history of this delay, situating it against the background of the author’s difficult reappraisal of her own political past and the critical interventions through which she distanced herself from the labour movement and the strike’s most significant achievement, the creation of the new unionism.