Sunday, 18 January 2009

Perpetuating myths

In my last post I didn't mention that the German Wikipedia entry on Montague Summers claims that Bram Stoker was a member of the Hermetic Order of Golden Dawn (this reference claims so as well). However, looking in Paul Murray's Stoker biography, From the Shadow of Dracula: A Life of Bram Stoker, no such thing is mentioned, and Elizabeth Miller in her delightful and informative Dracula: Sense & Nonsense clearly states:

'Though Stoker certainly knew some of its members, no evidence has been found to indicate that he himself belonged to this Order.' (p. 61 of the 2006 edition)

It is, however, a popular tale - or probably rather a myth - that he was a member of the occult society, but people find it justified to believe so because he wrote novels and short stories dealing with the supernatural!

The internet is full of such tales and myths, and it is frequently hard to find out if they are true or not. This fact made a blogger on a totally different subject write:

'My point is this: online journalism is an easy way to perpetuate urban myths through sheer repetition. It is something we have a responsibility to monitor, just like those volunteers at Wikipedia.'

Click the above image to read the original press release for Paul Murray's Stoker biography.

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