To celebrate Halloween, we’re publishing a selection of excerpts from David J. Skal’s Something in the Blood, a biography of Bram Stoker, out this month with Liveright. Today: letters between Stoker and Walt Whitman, published in full for the first time in Something in the Blood. Stoker, moved by Leaves of Grass, was an ardent fan of Whitman—he and his Trinity College peers called themselves “Walt Whitmanites.” He kept his first letter to the poet, a meandering and adoring document, in his desk for four years before gathering the courage to send it.
DUBLIN, IRELAND, FEB 18, 1872
If you are the man I take you to be you will like to get this letter. If you are not I don’t care whether you like it or not and only ask that you put it into the fire without reading any farther. But I believe you will like it. I don’t think there is a man living, even you who are above the prejudices of the class of small-minded men, who wouldn’t like to get a letter from a younger man, a stranger, across the world—a man living in an atmosphere prejudiced to the truths you sing and your manner of singing them. The idea that arises in my mind is whether there is a man living who would have the pluck to burn a letter in which he felt the smallest atom of interest without reading it. Read More