"In his brilliant elucidation of the Gothic sensibility, Robert Douglas guides us across 'that line of darkness' where the monster within us all cleaves onto the innocent, demonized other. From the timeless, spell-binding stories of Dracula and Jekyll and Hyde to Jack the Ripper and the trial of Oscar Wilde, from racism and eugenics to the blood sacrifice of The Great War, Douglas reminds us, with erudite, page-turning prose, how life is forever imitating art. Forbidden, atavistic desires lurk under the thin skin of our civilization, and with equal parts horror and fascination, we are transfixed."

James FitzGerald

winner, 2010 Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize
author of What Disturbs Our Blood (2010) 

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does
not become a monster. And when you look long into the abyss,
the abyss also looks long into you."

                                                       ~ F. Nietzsche
                                                           Beyond Good and Evil

"I did not die, nor did I stay alive.
Imagine – if you have the wit – what I became,
deprived of both."

                                                         ~ Dante,
                                                            The Inferno

"When you cross over that line of darkness, it’s hard to come back."
                                                      ~ former CIA officer
                                                         quoted by Jane Meyer
                                                         The Dark Side

In That Line of Darkness, The Shadow of Dracula and the Great War Robert A. Douglas traces the intricate web of Zeitgeist that surfaced in one of the nineteenth century's strangest literary creations and flowered on the battlefields of the First World War.

Douglas has written:

"As an atavistic creature, the vampire epitomized the Gothic
discourse about the dangerous outsider and served as a repository for
myriad threats that coalesced around the fear of a degenerating race.
Accordingly, Dracula can be read as a fictional riff on eugenics and
the fear that the British stock could deteriorate. Blood is a metaphor
for racial identity, an emissary of the dangers of miscegenation or racial
mixing and of collapsing social and gender boundaries. Blood as a body
fl uid is a powerful metaphor for national and racial pride. Likewise its
antithesis, deracination, arouses revulsion when blood is sucked out of
another, transforming that person into the other and leading perhaps to
the biological and political elimination of the weaker race by the stronger.
The resulting destabilization could only be confronted by a radical
reordering of national and personal priorities that emphasized genetics
and pure blood lines, and a more muscular manhood alongside general

The Shdow of Dracula and the Great War

"A massive undertaking of erudite scholarship, thoroughly researched, readable and engaging. A comprehensive analysis of the social and cultural descent into darkness triggered by demonization of the 'other'. Unique among studies of Dracula, That Line of Darkness culminates in the atrocities of the Great War—the epitome of 'monster-hunting'—and its disastrous consequences. Stoker’s classic vampire novel provides the ideal lens through which to view the 'ideological obsession with blood, race and soil.'"

Elizabeth Miller
author of A Dracula Handbook (2005) and Bram Stoker's Dracula: A Documentary Journey into the Vampire Country of the Dracula Phenomenon (2009)  

"If you’ve ever wondered how so many public figures, intellectuals, commentators and even entire television networks can base their existence on decrying the collapse of Western civilization—or even if you just wonder why vampire shows are so unbelievably popular—read this book.  A bracing analysis of social fear."

Ian Brown
author of The Boy in the Moon (2009)




Click on this link to go to the full bibliography.

Click on this link to go to Robert Douglas' web site devoted to That Line of Darkness.

Click on this link to go see Robert Douglas' report on the Bram Stoker Centenary Conference - 2012


Robert A. Douglas
Robert Douglas was born in London, Ontario, received his high school education in Sudbury, and BA and MA degrees from the University of Toronto. He taught history and a variety of social sciences at the secondary level for the Durham and Peel Board of Education, including an alternative school for over twenty years in Mississauga and an independent girls’ school, Branksome Hall, in Toronto. It was his love of teaching a single course—a multi-disciplined Western Civilization programme—and his passion for international travel, wide reading and conversation that were the inspirations for That Line of Darkness: The Shadow of Dracula and the Great War. Writing became a complement to teaching in the hopes of reaching a larger audience.

Douglas enjoys swimming, cycling and walking, particularly in New York, London and the cities of Europe. He mission everywhere is to ferret out interesting second hand bookstores and stimulating theatre and art. For more than twenty years, the author and his wife, Gayle, have hosted monthly soirees. After dinner and wine and the viewing of a documentary film, conversation ranges over diverse political, social and artistic topics.


From 23 June, 2011, That Line of Darkness may be ordered from your favourite bookstore. You may also purchase the book directly from this website for $42.00 for the clothbound edition or at a discounted price of $25.95 for the paperback, (plus, alas HST and shipping) by e-mailing us at words@encompasseditions.com. We will provide you with payment instructions. Shipping is usually within 12 hours.

That Line of Darkness is now available from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other on-line retailers

The fully designed Digital Book edition of That Line of Darkness, including covers, is now available in PDF format. Most tablets and electronic readers now support PDFs. You may order your digital edition of That Line of Darkness directly from Encompass Editions for $14.99 (words@encompasseditions.com) or from the author's website at www.thatlineofdarkness.com.



Nicholas Hoare

The first volume of Robert Douglas' That Line of Darkness received its official send-off at the Toronto premises of Nicholas Hoare, 45 Front Street East, on the evening of 23 June, 2011.

Robert Douglas
The handsome bookstore thronged with students, scholars, well-wishers, and friends who have followed the book's twelve-year gestation. Robert's wife Gayle oversaw the provision of good bread, good cheese and good wine for all, while Robert'snreading of two excerpts from the book gave him some respite from the furious signing of dozens of copies.
Among those in attendance were Encompass publisher Robert Buckland  and agent
Peter Saunders of Saunders Associates.


On January 26, 2012, at the Palmerson Public Library in downtown Toronto, Robert Douglas presented to an enthusiastic audience of thirty people a slide presentation that provided an overview to the book. Robert complemented the images with readings from relevant passages. A lively question period followed.

"A remarkable read.  The prose and argument is clear from the outset, the careful articulation of the Gothic novel impressive and valuable for an understanding of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Zeitgeist. A strong, engaging, and clearly written book—a pleasure to read."

Dr Leonard Friesen
Associate Professor of Global Studies and History, Wilfred Laurier University,
author of Rural Revolutions in Southern Ukraine: Peasants, Nobles and Colonists 1774-1905 (2009)



You can always reach us at Encompass Editions by telephone toll-free at






If you've arrived at this page from outside the Encompass Editions web site, click here to go to our home page and see what's on release this season.