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Frankenstein was a guy!
March 14, 2007 2:44 AM   Subscribe

"The Man Who Wrote Frankenstein" is a shortly forthcoming book by gay activist and scholar John Lauritsen which claims that Percy Bysshe Shelley, not his wife Mary wrote the famous novel. Camille Paglia has read an advance copy, and she seems to have liked it. (It's discussed on the fourth page of her column.)
posted by Trochanter (85 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
...

I don't even know where to begin. I'll let someone else with a stronger grounding in English literature kick off the thread, and I'll jump in later.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:40 AM on March 14, 2007


Amazon + Wikipedia + a Salon column by poor washed-up Paglia?
posted by matteo at 4:17 AM on March 14, 2007


I read Frankenstein, enjoyed it on its merits, and don't care either way which one, or both, Shelleys wrote it. So I don't have a dog in this fight, and my grounding in English literature comes solely from having read a great deal of the English literature, and not much scholarly works about it. But I think it worth pointing out that there are degrees of authorship. It's possible, but doesn't seem likely, that Mary wrote the entire thing alone; she could have written it with extensive help from her charismatic, garrulous, published author husband ("What's a good way to describe someone watching someone else from the bushes, dear?"); she could have had the nightmare, told the ghost story to the group, encouraged her husband to write the actual book, and suggested ideas to him (acting as both muse and editor); or he could have written the whole thing and attributed it to her for reasons of his own. As the wikipedia article on Frankenstein says, it was published first anonymously, and then, during the lifetime of both Mary and Percy, under her name. So, if she claimed to have wrote it when he in fact did, she did so with his consent and cooperation in the deception.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:17 AM on March 14, 2007


Maybe I haven't had enough caffeine yet this morning, but am I missing something? Is it relevant that John Lauritsen is a gay activist?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:19 AM on March 14, 2007


Is it relevant that John Lauritsen is a gay activist?

From the Slate column:

"Its thesis is that the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and not his wife, the feminist idol, Mary Shelley, wrote "Frankenstein" and that the hidden theme of that book is male love. "
posted by ninebelow at 4:22 AM on March 14, 2007


From the Paglia review, the only evidence cited seems to be this:
Lauritsen assembles an overwhelming case that Mary Shelley, as a badly educated teenager, could not possibly have written the soaring prose of "Frankenstein" (which has her husband's intensity of tone and headlong cadences all over it) and that the so-called manuscript in her hand is simply one example of the clerical work she did for many writers as a copyist.
From Wikipedia. she does seem to have been home-schooled:
Nonetheless, despite her stepmother's efforts, Mary received an excellent education, which was unusual for girls at the time. She never went to school, but she was taught to read and write by Louisa Jones, and then educated in a broad range of subjects by her father who gave her free access to his extensive library. In particular, she was encouraged to write stories, and one of these early works "Mounseer Nongtongpaw" was published by the Godwin Company's Juvenile Library when she was only eleven. "Mounseer Nongtongpaw" was a thirty-nine stanza expansion of Charles Dibdin's five-stanza song of the same name. Written in iambic tetrameter, it tells of John Bull's trip to Paris where all of his questions about the ownership of everything he sees meet with the same response: "Je vous n'entends pas" (I don't understand you). He takes this phrase as referring to a Monsieur Nongtongpaw, whose wealth and possessions he greatly envies. At the same time, Godwin allowed her to listen to the conversations he had with many of the leading intellectuals and poets of the day.
Mary Shelley also wrote several novels after the death of Percy Shelley.

So, given that she wrote her own works before and afterwards, this seems to be basically kookery.

Moreover, it seems to be exceptionally unlikely even by the standards of the genre. Even the Baconians are more consistent: they don't say that Bacon wrote Hamlet but Shakespeare wrote everything before and after...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:25 AM on March 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


identity politics

lol
posted by johnny novak at 4:27 AM on March 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Perhaps you're not enough of yourself right now :). Yes, as is a common activity of gay activist historians, he wishes to prove that Percy Bysshe Shelley was gay, or at any rate bisexual--however relevant or not the contemporary construction of gay culture may be to the sexual customs of early 19th-Century libertine poets--and as support for that, he submits evidence that the book is (a) full of allegories for male companionship, soul-mating, sexual desire by Adam for Frankenstein, and spurning of Adam by Frankenstein, and (b) the book contains lots of contemporary in-group phrases common among gay men of the time, which Mary couldn't reasonably have been expected to know. Therefore Percy either wrote the book, intending to give a "shout out to his homies" in the process, and concealed it under Mary's name; or, he at least partially dictated the book to Mary, at least those parts.

I've not read Lauritsen's book, but this is what I got from Paglia's review and the Amazon.com description.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:28 AM on March 14, 2007


This is old news. I distinctly remember Brett DiAngelo saying the book was gay in 7th grade.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:04 AM on March 14, 2007 [15 favorites]


Why couldn't Mary be reasonably expected to know how her own husband talked? Either they were regular phrases used with a wink and a nod, in which case she could use them without realizing what was up OR they were irregularly used phrases that would cause a question mark to appear over her head, in which case wouldn't there be question marks over the non-gay readers' heads too? Did anyone at the time note a profusion of question marks over people's heads?
posted by DU at 5:20 AM on March 14, 2007


Actually Percy Bysshe Shelley was constructed by Byron out of body parts of dead poets and some left over Donne. The quick spark of electricity seeded the monster with vital power, but it was so, so lonley - so Byron made for it a terrible and hideous bride! Shunned by society, the undead couple wreaked havoc on the people of the British isles until they were destroyed by famed monster hunter and cowboy Wild Bill Wordsworth.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:27 AM on March 14, 2007 [13 favorites]


Lauritsen has aired his arguments several times on the Romanticism listserv, NASSR-L.

Nobody has ever disputed that Percy Shelley helped revise the novel--and we also know that the "ghost story" legend is clearly exaggerated--but the scholars who have actually studied the manuscripts, like Charles Robinson, point out that there's simply no evidence that he wrote it. (Nobody has ever accused P. B. Shelley's own attempts at fiction of anything resembling literary greatness.)

Arguments from "education" are also problematic, since every woman writer of the period would have been "home-schooled" (or, at best, been educated through the equivalent of high school at an academy or finishing school). By the standards of the period, none of the novel's literary or historical references are even remotely obscure: the creature reads or has read to him Paradise Lost, Plutarch's Lives, The Sorrows of Young Werther, and Volney's Ruins of Empire (an extremely popular eighteenth-century radical history); Victor Frankenstein is interested in Paracelsus and Cornelius Agrippa, but the novel doesn't offer us a detailed exposition of their work; there are references to "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and some very close parallels to Byron's Manfred; and Victor's father performs electrical experiments by flying a kite, like Benjamin Franklin. None of this would have constituted extraordinary knowledge for an early nineteenth-century teenager--especially because, again, the references are usually just not that detailed. (The most extensive and significant allusions are to Paradise Lost.)

Byron's bisexuality is well-established. Shelley's? Not so much.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:34 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


please ... if shelley had written frankenstein then the monster would have ended up with his bride on a desert island somewhere living a life of ecstatic enlightenment or in the middle of some cathedral somewhere being hounded by clergy until he jumped off the highest spire or committed an unspeakable act of moral turpitude, not wandering into the arctic to mysteriously disappear forever

furthermore, the creature would have been beautiful

furthermore, the high and mighty language she used was very common in writers of the time and shelley would have indulged in it to the point of distraction

furthermore, he'd have written it in blank verse

furthermore, some of that verse would have demonstrated an occasional tin ear ... "bird thou never wirt" indeed

this isn't meant as a knock against shelley ... but he didn't write frankenstein ... it's just not HIM
posted by pyramid termite at 5:41 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


And Paglia's opinion is important why, exactly?
posted by sutt at 6:00 AM on March 14, 2007


This reminds me of the debate over who wrote "To Kill a Mockingbird". The 1-hit wonder girl or flamboyant older gay associate.

If Percy did write it then you have to explain all the scholarship that says Frankenstein is about a young womens fear of giving birth, fear of children, etc.. which IMO is the strongest analysis of the novel.
posted by stbalbach at 6:54 AM on March 14, 2007


thomas j wise and pyramid termite, thank you for reminding me why I got an BA in English in the first place.

Lord knows it wasn't future salary expectations.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:56 AM on March 14, 2007


BTW re: post title - Frankenstein was indeed a guy. So was his monster, which remains nameless in the novel, other than "The Creature", "The Fiend", "The Wretch", etc.
posted by stbalbach at 6:58 AM on March 14, 2007


Thank you, stbalbach. Back in college, I tried to argue that Frankenstein was an allegory about parenthood (Frankenstein being an unfit single father, and the Creature his child whom he fails in every meaningful way, leading inevitably to rebellion and conflict), but nobody listened to me. I'm glad someone agrees.

So, yeah. I think we've put Lauritsen's nonsense soundly to bed here.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:03 AM on March 14, 2007


Oh nonsense, I watched Gothic last night and that's the canonical version. Mary Shelley did too much laudanum along with Percy, Byron, some crazy chick named Claire and a seriously weird Italian doctor; they had a seance, freaked out and ran amok in a house with similar properities to the Tardis, complete with a few freaky sexual automata lying around and a fully articulated suit of armor with a rhino penis. Then came blood, mud, rats and a skull smashing and out of all this came Frankenstein. QED.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:31 AM on March 14, 2007


Wow. Zombie-Paglia comes out from her tomb, and this is the best she can do?

(Not to diss Mary Shelley. Frankenstein is one of the greatest novels ever written in English. But, so lame.)
posted by bardic at 7:38 AM on March 14, 2007


FWIW, a much more literate and literary friend of mine whom I just notified of this thread pointed out that MWS initially had to publish the novel under a man's name.
posted by pax digita at 7:52 AM on March 14, 2007


There's nothing sexist at all about a gay male claiming a woman couldn't possibly have written an important book. I'd say more, but I don't think you could hear me through this cube of congealed irony that I can't cut through.
posted by solistrato at 7:54 AM on March 14, 2007


Male love is a central theme of rankenstein. According to Lauritsen, male love, as romantic male friendship, is a central theme of Frankenstein. Sometimes the expressions of male love are remarkably direct, but at other times they are expressed in coded language or references known only to the "initiated". He uses his skills as a gay historian to decode and interpret these references.

Is there anyone who has read Lauritsen's book and can tell us which references were so decoded?
posted by caddis at 7:58 AM on March 14, 2007


That's funny, a decade or so ago I heard that Mary was, in part, responsible for making much of Percy's poetry legible reading, now Percy is suppose to have written Frankenstein ?

And Frankenstein as a gay love story? Wasn't this tried with Huck Finn? Personally, I don't see how these claims do anything but damage to, the worthy, "gay agenda".
posted by edgeways at 8:00 AM on March 14, 2007


This theory carries about as much weight as the theory that Branwell Bronte was really the most talented of the Brontes, despite his lack of any concrete accomplishments, because he was a guy and so obviously must have been more talented than all those silly female Brontes.

And it's true that Mary Shelley actually had an excellent education for a woman of that period. It's also true that Camille Paglia seems to be loathe to imagine that a female could have any accomplishments of any kind. I remember some comment she made that if culture had been left to women to create, we'd all be living in grass huts or something.
posted by OolooKitty at 8:13 AM on March 14, 2007


"a much more literate and literary friend of mine whom I just notified of this thread pointed out that MWS initially had to publish the novel under a man's name."
posted by pax digita

Yes, similar thoughts here had me checking when the Bronte sisters were first published - under the deliberately "male" names of Currer, Ellis and Acton - for Charlotte, Emily and Anne - Bell.
Wiki gives 1846 -nearly 30 years after Frankenstein appeared in 1818.

(Plus ca change with J.K. Rowling and all that!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:24 AM on March 14, 2007


Sometimes a monster is just a monster.

- sfts2
posted by sfts2 at 8:52 AM on March 14, 2007


identity politics

lol


Black Frankenstein is not actually black!
posted by Artw at 8:54 AM on March 14, 2007


This is ludicrous. Everyone knows Benjamin Franklin wrote it under a pseudonym.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:56 AM on March 14, 2007


Or maybe Mark Twain. I always confuse the two.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:57 AM on March 14, 2007


what reason exactly is cited on why he let his wife have the credit if he in fact wrote it?
posted by poppo at 9:02 AM on March 14, 2007


HG Wells wrote it. Then time travelled.
posted by Artw at 9:05 AM on March 14, 2007


DESTINY! DESTINY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME! DESTINY! DESTINY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:21 AM on March 14, 2007


Black Frankenstein is not actually black!

What about Blacula?
posted by jonmc at 9:29 AM on March 14, 2007


You gotta love the feminists these days. Some man argues that a major work of literature was actually written by a man, not the woman it's attributed to, and the radical feminists cheer.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:29 AM on March 14, 2007


If Blacula's aren't actually black, Jefferson Twilight is going to be mighty pissed.
posted by cosmicbandito at 9:35 AM on March 14, 2007


If it doesn't take into account that all of Shelley's circle was in the thrall of ancient, silicon-based vampiric descendents of the nephelim, I find it hard to take seriously.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:48 AM on March 14, 2007


Its thesis is that the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and not his wife, the feminist idol, Mary Shelley, wrote "Frankenstein" and that the hidden theme of that book is male love.

*bangs head against wall repeatedly*

You gotta love the feminists these days. Some man argues that a major work of literature was actually written by a man, not the woman it's attributed to, and the radical feminists cheer.

Logical fallacies here: Paglia does not speak, by any means, for "feminists" as a body; also, one might argue that she is in fact anti-feminist.
posted by jokeefe at 9:52 AM on March 14, 2007


He uses his skills as a gay historian to decode and interpret these references.

I did the same thing with Silas Marner in my thesis, except I'm a food historian so I showed how the book is full of coded references to sammiches. Any time two men shake hands? Sammich. A hearty embrace between two parties? Sammich. Description of the sky meeting the ground at the horizon? Sammich.

(I am a fraud who not only hasn't written a thesis on Silas Marner, hasn't even read Silas Marner, and isn't a food historian. I just love sammiches is all.)
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:57 AM on March 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Great. Because there's like, this big problem where women are always getting all the credit for male creative work.
posted by serazin at 10:01 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Logical fallacies here: Paglia does not speak, by any means, for "feminists" as a body; also, one might argue that she is in fact anti-feminist.
posted by jokeefe

Thank you, jokeefe!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:06 AM on March 14, 2007


I can't prove that a gay man wrote it, but I can prove a gay man read it.

(Plus— This book hasn't come out, and this FPP is so fucking weak sauce).
posted by klangklangston at 10:13 AM on March 14, 2007


Male love is a central theme of Frankenstein. According to Lauritsen, male love, as romantic male friendship, is a central theme of Frankenstein.

As the actual author (if I may be so presumptous) of a paper which argued the idea that Frankenstein is really "about" the horror of motherhood and infant death (a take on the novel which is very well supported in criticism, especially by Ellen Moers), I beg to differ.
posted by jokeefe at 10:13 AM on March 14, 2007


What the fuck is up with Salon.com? "Click on the Sponsor's Logo." WHERE IS THE DAMN LOGO? Is firefox just screwing me here?
posted by papakwanz at 10:16 AM on March 14, 2007


Maybe I haven't had enough caffeine yet this morning, but am I missing something? Is it relevant that John Lauritsen is a gay activist?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:19 AM PST on March 14 [+]


Because, like Frankenstein's monster, gays are built in labs by mad scientists, duh.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:18 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Look, I'm all for reclaiming the canon for your cause. But the great thing about the gay agenda is that they don't have to look far. Everyone's always asking, "Where's the women's Socrates? Where's their Shakespeare? Where's the female equivalent of Proust?" Gays don't have to deal with that nonsense: the gay Socrates, Shakespeare, and Proust were named Socrates, Shakespeare, and Proust.

(Quoting from memory Eve Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:20 AM on March 14, 2007


matteo, I knew the post was thin. There's not a lot out there about the book yet, at least that I could find with my limited search skills. There were a couple of other sites that were essentially restatements of the amazon thing.

Plus, Mr. Lauritsen is otherwise noted as an AIDS dissenter, which could as well raise the kook flag.
posted by Trochanter at 10:21 AM on March 14, 2007


And hang on... the home-schooling thing. You all know who Mary Shelley's parents were, right? Her mother was Mary Wollstonecraft, author of the Vindication of the Rights of Women, An Historical and Moral View of the Origins and Progress of the French Revolution, and other works. Her father was William Godwin, a wrter and political philosopher; both were prominent thinkers of their time, and Wollstonecraft was famous. Mary Shelley was brought up in a household frequented by intellectuals, writers, and radicals. To say that she was badly educated is nonsense, really.
posted by jokeefe at 10:22 AM on March 14, 2007


Yes, similar thoughts here had me checking when the Bronte sisters were first published - under the deliberately "male" names of Currer, Ellis and Acton - for Charlotte, Emily and Anne - Bell. Wiki gives 1846 -nearly 30 years after Frankenstein appeared in 1818.

A better example would be Mary-Ann Evans, who of course published under the name George Eliot. The Bronte pseudonyms were deliberately chosen to be ambigious, not male. (Fun trivia fact: The surname Bell was initially borrowed from Rev. Bronte's curate, Arthur Bell, who Charlotte eventually married a number of years later, so that she did indeed assume the name in the legal sense as well as the literary).
posted by jokeefe at 10:30 AM on March 14, 2007


If we grant the primary thesis, a more likely interpretation of the text would be that Shelley was not writing about male love, per se, but about fear of and powerlessness over his own sexuality (the creature is obviously his phallus; monstrous, powerful, ultimately untamable). Essentially, it is the story of the author's tragic battle with compulsive public masturbation. Actually, that might also explain Paglia's endorsement.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:32 AM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


As an independent scholar, Lauritsen is beholden to no one. As a consequence, he can fight openly with myopic professors and, without fear of retribution, condemn them for their inability to read and reason.

As an independent scholar, he can get pwned by mefites shirking their own work on a Wednesday morning.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:32 AM on March 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Obviously, Lauritsen and I didn't read the same book.

It's very plausible that Mary and Percy, being a married couple, both of which were creative individuals, brainstormed and shared ideas as they were working on projects and helped one another.

Not that I mean, being a bleeding heart liberal, to support the concept of traditional family values, but why are we not able to accept that perhaps they both had a hand in the final work, and that Percy felt his wife did the lion's share of the work and deserved the credit? Why is this an either/or situation? They were partners and collaborators. Why is this so difficult for people to comprehend in the 21st century?
posted by ZachsMind at 10:45 AM on March 14, 2007


Why is this so difficult for people to comprehend in the 21st century?

Because truth must first suit our politics.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:47 AM on March 14, 2007


"a weak and sentimental writer, incapable of writing Frankenstein": made me think of Mr Mybug in Cold Comfort Farm, trying to prove that Branwell Bronte wrote his sisters' novels - "it's male stuff". It would be nice to think Lauritsen's book won't get much attention, but I guess it'll be everywhere for a while.
posted by paduasoy at 10:52 AM on March 14, 2007


Frankenstein: You're so [gay, feminist, Irish, etc.,] you probably think this book is about you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:57 AM on March 14, 2007


HG Wells wrote it. Then time traveled.

NO! Brain Aldiss traveled through time, made the monster for REAL, then wrote it.
posted by tkchrist at 11:23 AM on March 14, 2007


Her father was William Godwin, a wrter and political philosopher; both were prominent thinkers of their time

So visionary that he foresaw both Nazis and the Internet!
posted by COBRA! at 11:38 AM on March 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


"The Bronte pseudonyms were deliberately chosen to be ambigious, not male."

Jokeefe,

Don't you think Charlotte Bronte was overstating this slightly?

The contemporary, unthinking assumption would have been, surely, that Currer, Ellis and Acton were definitely chaps?

The "ambiguity" evoked by the three made-up names might have been deliciously self-evident to the Brontes themselves perhaps - but not to the general public?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:38 AM on March 14, 2007


not his wife, the feminist idol, Mary Shelley, wrote "Frankenstein" and that the hidden theme of that book is male love.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's mother was Mary Wollstonecraft -- the mother is by far the larger feminist icon; maybe there is a confusion here? The daughter is a woman writer of note, so might be an icon to people looking for notable women. The mother laid part of the philosophical foundation of feminism. Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, one of the most important early texts advocating equality between the sexes.

Also, the famous feminist intellectual mom died within a couple of weeks of giving birth to the famous writer daughter. (More points for the "fear of childbirth" theory.) So mom wasn't around to school daughter. It was Mary W S's dad and later another family she boarded with who ensured she had an education.

Last point: suppose the book were supposed to be about male love. Why would that mean it couldn't be written by a woman?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:04 PM on March 14, 2007


Might be a good read in conjunction with Joanna Russ's How to Suppress Women's Writing.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:07 PM on March 14, 2007


NO! Brain Aldiss traveled through time, made the monster for REAL, then wrote it.

That's officially the worst movie ever with John Hurt in it, and is the proof that even when he's trying, Roger Corman is a shitty, shitty director.

"DID VICTOR MAKE YOU?"

posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:35 PM on March 14, 2007


Essentially, it is the story of the author's tragic battle with compulsive public masturbation.

Speaking as a professional author, I can say that pretty much all writing is a battle against compulsive masturbation. Oh, and surfing MeFi.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:19 PM on March 14, 2007


I tend to lean more towards the thesis expressed by Jokeefe. The horror is derived from the unnatural divorce from society/the female exhibited by Vic as he holes himself up in a lab and tries to create life all by himself. It toys with the Romantic notion of the all-powerful individual flying in the face of the universe by having the result go so tragically wrong - eventually even killing his bride on their wedding night, so Vic cannot even return to the kind of life he had avoided for so long. The fact that the books the Monster teaches himself to read with are all classics of the Romantic school (Paradise Lost, for example, has Satan as it's most sympathetic character) is just icing on the cake. The Monster is the Noble Savage lionised by the Romantics, but not even it can gain the acceptance of the populace and eventually society's rejection of him, mirroring Vics rejection of society, pushes it over the edge and into murder.

A case could be made that male progeny without female involvement is implicitly homesexual - but it's a stretch. Such parthenogenesis is horrific not because of its masculinity but because of the aloneness of the creator (Igor didn't hit the scene until '30s movies). The creature asked not for a son or a brother, but a bride - realising, as Vic had not, that such solitude is implicitly unnatural.

Oh, and mygothlaundry - the weird italian doctor (played by the moon-faced Timothy Spall) in Gothic was John Polidori - who wrote the first english language Vapire story. I used to love that movie - summed up, as it is, by the phrase "...and then the drugs kicked in"
posted by Sparx at 1:56 PM on March 14, 2007


Huh...I thought Edgar Winter wrote Frankenstein.

I think Frankenstein is a direct inversion of Moby Dick.
Teh gay aside - I read Moby Dick and I keep thinking it’s the most boring subject matter, whales, sailing minutiae...but the prose is so damned great. Brilliant, luscious, gorgeous language and imagery about like...sails. And on and on and on about them. The book has maybe three chapters that move the plot along. Everything else is discriptive. It’s like a whole drum solo by Neal Pert. No song, but so technically compelling you’re drawn in - “wow, this completely meaningless set is really brilliantly executed.”

Frankenstein - the prose is mostly crap (some great discriptive elements aside), but the ideas are fantastic. And not fully executed. “Hey, look at what I’m alluding to here!”
‘Wow, cool, I wonder if we get to explore where...’
“Nope, let’s move on.”
I dunno, I’d think a more experianced author would have gotten more mileage out of the concepts and generated more copy. I think it must've been Mary.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:31 PM on March 14, 2007


Logical fallacies here: Paglia does not speak, by any means, for "feminists" as a body; also, one might argue that she is in fact anti-feminist.

One might also argue that she is a Martian, or a tree, or a rhinoceros. One might take better care with one's phrasing if one is accusing someone else of committing logical fallacies. One might also argue that Paglia's extremism sperating her from most feminists was the whole bloody point of my joke. One might argue, as well, that this would be the perfect place to insert a bit about feminists being too serious and not getting jokes.

One might, but one won't, because one sees that even that joke will also be taken seriously, and one wonders why one bothers.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:39 PM on March 14, 2007


You gotta love the feminists these days. Some man argues that a major work of literature was actually written by a man, not the woman it's attributed to, and the radical feminists cheer.

...
One might also argue that Paglia's extremism sperating her from most feminists was the whole bloody point of my joke.



I'm completely puzzled by this, and it's not because of my feminism, but because of your bad execution.

What's the joke again? That Paglia isn't a feminist, and this somehow reflects on feminists? That she is a feminist, but a non-mainstream kind of feminist, and this fact reflects on her? Or on feminism? Were you only ironically making fun of feminists? Or only ironically making fun of Paglia? I'm at a loss.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:25 PM on March 14, 2007


No, wait, is it:
Her brand of feminism is wrong-headed and unfeminist, as illustrated by her stance on this issue? And this says something about the state of feminism today (it's doing badly)?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:28 PM on March 14, 2007


The thing is that Paglia isn't in the group of people we'd normally call "radical feminists" -- who would include people more along the lines of Mary Daly and Andrew Dworkin. Her views are definitely out of the mainstream of feminism, but they're just as definitely not in line with the views of radical feminists.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:37 PM on March 14, 2007


I was actually trying to make fun of the very fallacy jokeefe brought up -- that when an extremist does something, it's attributed to the whole group to discredit it. I thought it was an absurd enough statement, complete with a hackneyed "these feminists these days" bit, that no one would take it seriously.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:39 PM on March 14, 2007


OK, about the "feminist Paglia" argument, can't we just agree that, feminist or not, she's a douchebag?
posted by Skeptic at 4:20 PM on March 14, 2007


I always thought the deal with Paglia was that she could never quite forgive God for not being born David Bowie. I have absolutely no evidence for this, but there it is. My madness is revealed.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:28 PM on March 14, 2007


How could anyone watch that Puttin' on the Ritz scene and not only feel completely assured that Percy Bysse Shelley composed Frankenstein, but that he had an eye for sartorialist detail and an ear for the sweetest, most graceful melody that no mere woman could ever hope to understand, let alone possess?

Amirite?
posted by oneirodynia at 6:07 PM on March 14, 2007


Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair . . . it lives!
posted by aladfar at 6:23 PM on March 14, 2007


Geena Davis was fuckin' hot in Transylvania 6500.

...what?
posted by ZachsMind at 8:46 PM on March 14, 2007


Isn't there somewhere these people can go to argue about this where I never, ever have to hear their stupid ideas? Why did this person have to publish a book that's so obviously retarded? Maybe I'm just myopic and closed-minded, but it sounds like garbage to me.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:45 PM on March 14, 2007


All I know is, George Clinton wrote Funkenstein.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:01 PM on March 14, 2007


I'm all for people having crazy, wild, off-the-wall, out-there, stupid, retarded ideas. It's just when they insist that they're right that I have a problem.

Which explains I generally steer clear of LitCrit arguments. Postmodernist deconstructionism makes me want to kill people.

(ZachsMind: Geena Davis is still hot!)
posted by Pinback at 10:11 PM on March 14, 2007


along the lines of Mary Daly and Andrew Dworkin.
LobsterMitten 6:37

Ok, Andrew Dworkin? Jebus. And that was before I went out drinking.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:48 PM on March 14, 2007


You should write a book about it. Andrew really wrote all her books, and they're all about "man love," not feminism.

Yeah.
posted by Trochanter at 11:34 PM on March 14, 2007


Male love is a central theme of Frankenstein. According to Lauritsen, male love, as romantic male friendship, is a central theme of Frankenstein.

and, then

As the actual author (if I may be so presumptous) of a paper which argued the idea that Frankenstein is really "about" the horror of motherhood and infant death (a take on the novel which is very well supported in criticism, especially by Ellen Moers), I beg to differ.

I thought Frankenstein was supposed to be about bourgeois fear of revolutionaries, but I guess that reading has fallen out of fashion.
posted by Ritchie at 1:22 AM on March 15, 2007


Ok, Andrew Dworkin? Jebus. And that was before I went out drinking.

Ironic typo in a thread about a supposed feminist praising a theory that says "a man really wrote it". I wanted so badly to highlight that irony, but feared the reprisal.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:40 AM on March 15, 2007


I thought Frankenstein was supposed to be about bourgeois fear of revolutionaries, but I guess that reading has fallen out of fashion.

I kind of always thought that Frankenstein's monster was inspired by Byron (who was a total dick), and that a general theme in the book was the fear of the Other and the violence it causes.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:43 AM on March 15, 2007


Having never read the book, only seeing the character in Van Helsing, and being raised in the suburbs, I can tell you that Frankenstein is actually a scathing indictment of suburban sprawl and the persistent regeneration of the chain restaurant. See, Victor Frankenstein represents Ray Kroc. The Creature represents either Applebees or Olive Garden... Quite possibly both, the author wasn't entirely clear. The mob represents people who hate themselves for eating at chain restaurants but just want a tasty burger at a good price.

Science in the novel is a metaphor for religion.

Religion in the novel is a metaphor for foot rubs.

The Igor character is actually a subtle nod to legendary child actor Cory Haim.

Finally, Mary Shelley did not write it, but instead it was written by Time Traveling-Naomi Wolf, who has had a lot of spare time on her hands lately. It was easy though, because she just went to Barnes and Noble (but felt guilty about it) and picked up a copy and then traveled back in time and gave it to Shelley.

Then Shelley was all like "Thus Book before me has thine name on it."

And Naomi Wolf was like "Sure does, I won't say anything... What's that dripping on my limited edition Nikes, is that Blood."

And Shelley was like "I'm not sure, here let me get you a towel."



Though I must admit that I have the utmost respect for Mary as she was the espionage agent in The Oscar Wilde Adventure Squad (TM).
posted by drezdn at 8:49 AM on March 15, 2007


Dr. Lind showed Mary Shelley some of his wierd experiments with electricity and frogs (one of the first to do this). Was he the inspiration for Dr. Frankenstein?

posted by eye of newt at 12:49 PM on March 17, 2007


That was my first post, and the link didn't show up!--I'll try again, here's the link.
posted by eye of newt at 12:51 PM on March 17, 2007


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