Radioe listener with Jim Gilchrist

A notorious Transylvanian castle and a tumbledown estate in rural France both feature this week, the settings of two classic novels, both of which established cult followings.

THE ESSAY: BRAM STOKER celebrates the life and work of the Dracula author, who died a century ago this month, starting on Monday with Gothic literature specialist Dr Catherine Wynne looking at the life of the blood-sucking count’s Irish creator, while on Tuesday novelist Colm Toibin examines the influences of Irish folk lore and Gothic theatre on Stoker’s work. Later in the week, Sir Christopher Frayling recalls a visit to Dracula’s home turf in Transylvania, while Professor Roger Luckhurst and Dr Jarlath Killeen look at Stoker’s other novels, The Jewel of Seven Stars and The Lair of the White Worm (made into a notably loopy horror film by the late Ken Russell).

François Seurel didn’t pursue vampires, instead the 15-year-old narrator of Alain-Fournier’s classic novel of adolescent love and loss, Le Grand Meaulnes, followed his enigmatic friend of the title in his quest to retrace a mysterious chateau and its decrepit estate which he had stumbled upon, and where he encountered the girl of his dreams at an entrancing costume ball. Suffused with yearning, the novel, first published in 1913, was the only one written by Henri-Alban Fournier, to use the author’s real name, before he was killed during the First World War.

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In ALAIN-FOURNIER’S LOST ESTATE, novelist Julian Barnes and biographer Hermione Lee visit the places which inspired Fournier’s haunting domaine perdu, and consider him in relation to Dickens, Debussy’s opera Pelléas and Mélisande and Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Delving into lost realms of another kind, Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum follows up his excellent History of the World in 100 Objects, by once again trawling the museum’s immense collections to evoke SHAKESPEARE’S RESTLESS WORLD. The 20-part series starts on Monday, as MacGregor uses Sir Francis Drake’s Circumnavigation Medal to consider how the doughty mariner and bowls player transformed the world view of Shakespearean audiences.

The Essay: Bram Stoker

Mon-Fri, Radio 3, 10:45pm

Alain-Fournier’s Lost Estate

Thursday, Radio 4, 11:30am

Shakespeare’s Restless World

Monday, Radio 4, 1:45pm