Tuesday, October 9, 2012

the monster

There are a number of people or groups that I am and have always been interested in. Every couple of years my obsession will get rekindled and I will delve into it again. One of these deep interests is Mary Shelley, her family, friends, influences and of course, her book, Frankenstein.

Mary Shelley
Mary Shelly was 16 when she met Percy Bysshe Shelley, an already married man of 21. They had an affair and then he left his wife for her.

At the age of 19 on a June night, Mary, Percy, John Polidori and Lord Byron were staying at a country estate and there was a terrific storm. Byron suggested they all write scary stories. That night Mary conceived of Frankenstein (and Polidori started the first book on Vampires).

Instead of reading Frankenstein again, which I do sometimes when the itch hits me, this year I'm reading a new to me book about "the curse" of Frankenstein and that night called The Monsters: Mary Shelly and the Curse of Frankenstein.

This book basically tells the story of all involved that night, including the back story of their parents and upbringing. Mary was the daughter of famous political writers, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Both parents believed in the full rights of women. They didn't believe in marriage and encouraged open relationships  Godwin also believed that women and men were not supposed to live together. He felt that each person's privacy and peace was more important.

It's been many, many years since I read the biography of Mary Shelley, and I'm sure I've forgotten most if it. I'm only still at the beginning of the books but so far I have already read some pretty crazy stuff.  For example: When Mary's mother was dying after she gave birth to her, they thought her milk was poisoning her and put puppies on her breasts to drain the milk. Um, what?

Frankenstein is about so much more than most people think and certainly much more political and deep than the movies show. I recently saw The Bride of Frankenstein and it always breaks my heart when the Doctor just walks away and despises his creation. This to me is the one of the big lessons of Frankenstein. Responsibility. Mary was writing in part about the Industrial Revolution and the fear that machines would take over the work of people. But, there is so much more to this novel.

My obsession right now with Frankenstein has, of course, also resulted in a Frankenstein Pinterest board, too. Some neat images are there. Check it out.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I love Frankenstein. There's something so romantic and fulfilling about old Gothic lit. Frankenstein truly is a complicated wonderful gem.

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