Hello, here's a link to [livejournal.com profile] anindita's post on Kenneth Oppel's This Dark Endeavor. I really loved this book and would love to hear what other people think about it. She provides a link, as well, but I'm also linking my referenced review @ B&N. And, of course, the inevitable Mary Shelley tag here at LJ.

Mary Shelley remains an enigma to me. I think this portion from the B&N review best summarizes her appeal for me:

One very creepy scene in Oppel’s book deals with the restoration of an ancient book whose pages have become fused together. Oppel’s Victor narrates, “And for a moment the book seemed not a book at all but a living body, and instead of paper, I glimpsed pulsing viscera and blood and organs. I blinked again, not trusting my vision. But --- and this was most strange and repulsive --- the book seemed to emanate the smell of a slaughterhouse, of entrails and offal."

This curious scene gives life, not only to the later monster --- which has not yet made an appearance by the end of Oppel’s book --- but to one of the interesting critical interpretations of Mary Shelley’s book. The sense that the monster (and it’s important to note that in Mary Shelley’s work the monster remains unnamed; it is only later monsters that have taken on the name of their creator: Frankenstein) is not just constructed of bits and pieces of human bodies, but bits and pieces of philosophy: a sort of living word. The monster’s strange education --- like Shelley’s own --- is cobbled together from his overhearing the conversations of others. What is most moving about Frankenstein is the eloquent voice Mary Shelley ultimately gives the monster. The monster comes across as more sympathetic, more human, than its creator, despite the acts of vengeance it enacts upon its creator and his family...

... in many ways it
[Frankenstein] is the most significant --- and complete --- record we have of Mary Shelley’s life and work. It is also one of the more complete works that survives that cold summer in Switzerland. Each of the persons present the night Frankenstein was born kept journals and wrote letters, but over the years the record was lost, altered, or destroyed outright in keeping with changing mores. Mary Shelley herself significantly altered the record when it came to her husband, Percy, and it is largely due to her work that he enjoys the reputation he does today. What little we know about Mary Shelley and her life is a creature as cobbled together as her monster, and it speaks as eloquently---and as cryptically---as her most famous creation.

@ Anindita.org: http://www.anindita.org/2011/11/this-dark-endeavor/

@ B&N: This Dark Endeavor: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein re-imagined.

Here @ LJ http://zalena.livejournal.com/tag/shelley
Today's post is honor of Mary Shelley's birthday and Kenneth Oppel's new series This Dark Endeavor about the adolescence of Victor Frankenstein. I rather enjoyed the first book, which shows familiarity with Mary Shelley's life and work. But I'm reserving judgement until I see how things play out:

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Letter-Blocks-The-BN-Parents-and/This-Dark-Endeavor-Mary-Shelley-s-Frankenstein-re-imagined/ba-p/1146062

Mary Shelley remains an enigma to me, but I did pick up on one interesting criticism I hadn't hit before and I tucked it into the review for further meditation:

One very creepy scene in Oppel’s book deals with the restoration of an ancient book whose pages have become fused together. Oppel’s Victor narrates, “And for a moment the book seemed not a book at all but a living body, and instead of paper, I glimpsed pulsing viscera and blood and organs. I blinked again, not trusting my vision. But --- and this was most strange and repulsive --- the book seemed to emanate the smell of a slaughterhouse, of entrails and offal."

This curious scene gives life, not only to the later monster --- which has not yet made an appearance by the end of Oppel’s book --- but to one of the interesting critical interpretations of Mary Shelley’s book. The sense that the monster (and it’s important to note that in Mary Shelley’s work the monster remains unnamed; it is only later monsters that have taken on the name of their creator: Frankenstein) is not just constructed of bits and pieces of human bodies, but bits and pieces of philosophy: a sort of living word. The monster’s strange education --- like Shelley’s own --- is cobbled together from his overhearing the conversations of others. What is most moving about Frankenstein is the eloquent voice Mary Shelley ultimately gives the monster. The monster comes across as more sympathetic, more human, than its creator, despite the acts of vengeance it enacts upon its creator and his family.


That palimpsest* incarnate... I don't know whether that makes it creepier or more wonderful or both.

* a page that has been scraped so it can be used, again.
Obligatory link to Laura Miller's review of Daisy Hay's Young Romantics, which has been on my watch list for several months. I did start Richard Hay's Age of Wonder late last year, but did not have the time for it as I was up to my ears at the hospital and could not renew it at the library. That sort of spoiled my momentum. I suppose if I find it used, or someone buys it for me I will forge my way through, but until then... who knows.

As a summation, here is Kate Beaton's Hark a Vagrant on the subject of the Shelleys and Byron. As Miller puts it:

By the time "Young Romantics" gets to the year 1822, when Shelley drowned in a boating accident, it comes as a jolt to learn that Mary Shelley had run away to Europe with a great poet, written a seminal English novel, buried three children (only her fourth survived to adulthood) and lost her soul mate -- all by the age of 25.

What I really want to know is if Charles & Mary Lamb are covered in this book. Mary killed her mother in the midst of a nervous breakdown, but rather than being incarcerated or sent to an institution, she was cared for by her brother for the rest of her life, and remained at the center of a literary circle that included Coleridge. Her Tales from Shakespeare which she wrote in collaboration with her brother remains in print to this day. What has always interested me about this story is that every seems to have liked Mary and treated both her mental instability and the murder with understanding. This has always seemed curious to me and I have never read a satisfactory study of the relationship. (Which I would prefer to see addressed in comprehensive essay form, rather than full-blown biography.)

For more about Mary Shelley, who I almost became obsessed with several years ago, see my 'shelley' tag:
http://zalena.livejournal.com/tag/shelley

For a post about Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler's The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein, specifically, click here.

Vampyre

Jul. 31st, 2009 08:35 am
Lovely short essay on the origins of the modern vampire by G. del Toro and Chuck Hogan. It attributes the modern incarnation of the monster to Dr. John William Polidori who wrote it after the time he spent with Shelley, Byron, and Mary Shelley, in the Swiss Alps in the infamous summer of 1816. I'd forgotten about this, since Polidori was a kind of footnote to the reading I was doing about Mary Shelley at the beginning of 2008. Byron invented the idea, but Polidori wrote it.

One of the most interesting things about the story is that many biographers believe that Polidori based his monster upon the actual Byron, transforming Byron's outsized appetites, cruelty, and sex appeal to the vampyre itself.

There was also a large kerfuffle when it was published. Everyone thought it was written by Byron and Polidori once he finally attempted to claim authorship wasn't widely credited as being capable of writing such a thing.

Polidori lived his adult life in the shadow of Byron and while his death was declared to be of natural causes, there is evidence that he poisoned himself just short of his twenty-sixth birthday.

I'd forgotten about Dr. Polidori's part in the Romantic diaspora, though I recall Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler's marvelous book on Mary Shelley The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein contains a whole chapter on him.

Anway, I've written a lot about Mary Shelley before. One need only click on the tag to reveal. (Note: Many entries are friends-locked.)
I may have made some sarcastic references somewhere to Mary being called "Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley" by contemporary scholars whereas she would've been called as "Mary Godwin Shelley" in her own time. In fact, she consciously made a decision to go by MWS because she felt so incredibly alienated by her father, and wanted to reach for her heritage with her dead mother.

And now for something completely different! (including moth jokes) )
In her lifetime it was not uncommon to publish books anonymously. Frankenstein was originally assumed to be Shelley's book, and Shelley did make changes to the manuscript before submitting it for publication, though Mary also put out her own revised edition after Shelley's death.

Notes on copies/copyists & more Byronic anecdotes. )
As mentioned in a previous entry I've finally found the Mary Shelley book for which I've been looking. It is called The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. It perhaps overreaches its theme of life/art/life in the text of Frankenstein, written when Mary was only 19; but it provided excellent context for the general weirdness of the environment from which Frankenstein emerged. Not only Mary's revolutionary lineage, but the bizarre personalities that surrounded her, and the enormous amount of personal and emotional casualties that resulted from living out idealistic thinking to a ridiculous (some might say 'Byronic' hahaha!) extreme.

Damned Victorian Expurgators! )

Find the cost of free love/lay your body down... )

What key to open the shakles of our own forging? )

And that's about all I have to say now, though I know there will be more in entries to follow along with a lot of jokes I will find immensely funny but nobody else will understand about the 'vindication of the rights' of random people or things, and the Byronic nature of EVERYTHING including crash diets, antimacassars*, and bisexuality--- a term that came into being after Byron's death to describe his appetites, specifically---

Questions about classical languages... )

* Byron's Byronic curls were not naturally occuring. He was discovered wearing curling papers one night, to which he responded something witty about nature and artifice.... He popularized the wearing of a particular Macassar hair oil, the extensive popularity of which and damage to upholstery it caused created the antimacassar doily found on the backs of chairs, which are still, occasionally, found in fussier decorative movements.
I finished In Cold Blood in the bunker this week. I certainly have things to say about it, but everything has fled in the knowledge that I READ THE WRONG BOOK. I called my friend to let her know I was finished and we could now discuss the book (I read this for a friend who lamented having no one to discuss it with) and she said, "But I wanted you to read Executioner's Song."

Needless to say, I do not regret In Cold Blood, and it will probably make a good study of contrast to Executioner's Song, but I am not in the mood to read another true crime just now. So I picked Muriel Spark's biography of Mary Shelley as my next "bunker book." (Bunker books need to be easily put down when work shows up, but engaging enough to pass the time. Usually they are a little dry, the sort of thing I would not avoid chores to do, but honestly want to read.)

Mary Shelley: The Biography )

Creative frustration in the lives of 19C women. )

The problem of education and similarities in the lives of Mary Shelley and Louisa May Alcott )

Mary Shelley: A Divided Life )

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