My first exposition to Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars was through the Hammer classic 1971 movie, Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb.
Yes, the one featuring Valerie Leon.
I can’t remember where I first saw the movie – I was probably in the last year of middle school at the time, or on my first year of high school, and anything with the Hammer logo was a cherished treasure for me and my schoolmates.
I later read a cheap paperback translation, and found it somewhat boring.
I appreciated a lot more what Kim Newman did with the central themes of the novel, in his Seven Stars, which is contained in Stephen Jones excellent Dark Detectives, that I read at least a decade later.
Admittedly, I was never a Stoker fan, being more in the Conan Doyle and Rider Haggard field.
For the uninitiated,1 in what is considered to be the first modern “curse of the mummy” story, young Margaret Trelawny (daughter of a famous Egyptologist) is possibly the reincarnation of ancient (and fictitious) Queen Tera, whose astral body’s been preserved in as a mummified cat.
But it’s more complicated than that.
Now, as I was checking a few extra resources for AMARNA, I found out that the version of the Stoker novel I read was based on the 1912 abridged edition of the book – apparently a whole chapter was cut from the 1903 edition, and the finale was changed, and replaced with a standard happy ending.
The excised chapter 16 is particularly interesting, as it contains a long speculation about the advances of Egyptian civilization – Trelawney pére postulates that the ancient Egyptians knew electricity and even radiation.
There is another matter, too, on which recent discoveries in science throw a light. It is only a glimmer at present; a glimmer sufficient to illuminate probabilities, rather than actualities, or even possibilities. The discoveries of the Curies and Laborde, of Sir William Crooks and Becquerel, may have far-reaching results on Egyptian investigation. This new metal, radium–or rather this old metal of which our knowledge is new–may have been known to the ancients. Indeed it may have been used thousands of years ago in greater degree than seems possible to-day. As yet Egypt has not been named as a place where the discovery of pitchblende, in which only as far as is known yet radium is contained, may be made. And yet it is more than probable that radium exists in Egypt. That country has perhaps the greatest masses of granite to be found in the world; and pitchblende is found as a vein in granitic rocks. In no place, at no time, has granite ever been quarried in such proportions as in Egypt during the earlier dynasties. Who may say what great veins of pitchblende may not have been found in the gigantic operations of hewing out columns for the temples, or great stones for the pyramids.
This is a nice addition to the story, and brings the novel in the same territory of those mysterious archaeology books that I used to read as a kid in middle school, and that form part of the AMARNA background.
Which of course means I’ll have to re-read the story in its original form, all the while kicking myself for not reading more about Stoker and find this detail out earlier.
And here’s a link to the official Bram Stoker page featuring downloadable versions of both editions.
Because maybe you want to check it out, too.
- but then, what are you doing in this place? ↩