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Mary Shelley Writes for the Guardian
November 26, 2012 11:24 AM   Subscribe

From their archives, Mary Shelley writes about the origins of Frankenstein.
posted by zzazazz (6 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
At first I thought but of a few pages - of a short tale; but Shelley urged me to develop the idea at greater length. I certainly did not owe the suggestion of one incident, nor scarcely of one train of feeling, to my husband, and yet but for his incitement it would never have taken the form in which it was presented to the world.

Among Shelley's accolades: honorable mention for talking her into it. Not unlike Tabitha King, who retrieved the first few pages of Carrie from the trash and told her husband to finish it.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:45 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This seems familiar, I think it was used as an introduction to a later edition I read or something. The reason I remember it is this line:

I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together; I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out; and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion.

I just think that line is incredibly creepy, and actually, maybe better than anything in the actual book.

And if anyone wants to use "Pale Student of Unhallowed Arts" as a username, be my guest.
posted by marxchivist at 12:04 PM on November 26, 2012


It looks like there may have been a Frankenstein before Frankenstein. (Alas, the book isn't out yet, but the chapter sounds intriguing.)
posted by thomas j wise at 12:23 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Writing from the archives!!? Spooooky.
posted by Dr. Zachary Smith at 1:18 PM on November 26, 2012


Celsius1414: Among Shelley's accolades: honorable mention for talking her into it.
You know what they say: "Behind every great woman there's a man..."

They do say that, don't they?
posted by IAmBroom at 2:24 PM on November 26, 2012


The Guardian article is only the last few paragraphs of the full introduction written by Mary Shelley for the 1831 edition of Frankenstein (which was actually a revision of the 1816 edition).

The creation of Frankenstein was an indirect result of the eruption of Mount Tambora, located on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia. This eruption was four times greater than the better known Mount Krakatoa eruption in 1883, and is estimated to have been the equivalent of 800 megatons of TNT. It dramatically affected weather patterns worldwide, and in Europe ushered in The Year Without a Summer.

1816 was the year that Percy (still married to Harriet) went to Geneva, Switzerland with Mary Godwin, accompanied by Mary's half sister, Clare. Their purpose was to meet Lord Byron, who was vacationing with his personal physician, Dr. Polidori. The weather was cold and stormy; plans for boating and lengthy walks were often replaced with conversations in front of fireplaces. After sharing some ghost stories from a book titled "Phantasmagoriana", Byron challenged each of the members of the group to come up with their own ghost story to share.

The literary results of this summer were:
* Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
* The Vampyre, by John Polidori
* Fragment of a Novel, by Lord Byron
* Darkness (poem), by Lord Byron
* Fragment of a Ghost Story, by Percy Shelley

There are a several films about this topic, namely Haunted Summer and Gothic, neither of which should be considered an accurate portrayal of the people involved, but rather a wild dramatization.
posted by 1367 at 3:02 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


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