Genre(s): Literary Criticism
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Mary Shelley reappraises the significance of Frankenstein alongside other works by Shelley which could be considered to revise the significance and fluctuating meanings of ‘Gothic’ during the Romantic period. It offers scholarly, fresh readings of the 1818 and 1831 editions of Frankenstein, as well as chapters upon the fiction that Shelley composed in between both editions, and during the same decade as its second edition.
In its broader examination of Mary Shelley’s work, this study is the first of its kind within the field of Gothic studies. Alongside sustained explorations of Frankenstein, Matilda, Valperga and The Last Man, the volume Mary Shelley reappraises some of the shorter essays and tales that the author composed for contemporary magazines. Angela Wright argues that the time is now right for a re-examination of the extent to which Shelley participated in and redirected the Gothic tradition.
Angela Wright’s book, Mary Shelley, part of a series of introductory guides to writers of the Gothic, offers an in-depth and scholarly focus on Shelley’s writings, in particular the fiction works she published between the first 1818 edition of Frankenstein and the second, revised 1831 version.
‘This book is an excellent introduction to Mary Shelley’s life and work – indeed, it is a must-read for all serious students of Shelley and the Gothic – but it is also stands on its own as a fine work of literary history and criticism, based as it is on meticulous scholarship. It insightfully shows, as few other studies have done, the symbolic and affective work done by the Gothic not just in Frankenstein but in all of Shelley’s major novels and stories from the late 1810s through the late 1830s.’
- Professor Jerrold E. Hogle, University of Arizona
‘Angela Wright’s Mary Shelley is an elegant and critically insightful tribute to a major figure in British Romanticism. Wright writes sensitively and movingly about the life and works of one who, well beyond the example of Frankenstein, often turned to the Gothic to articulate the loss and devastation that beset her.
- Professor Dale Townshend, Manchester Metropolitan University
‘Providing a refreshing departure from previous scholars who have read Frankenstein in isolation, Angela Wright reads Mary Shelley’s writing career holistically, as an ongoing negotiation with a series of connected themes – most significantly, the Gothic. Wright’s great strength is that she understands the Gothic tradition as an intellectual tradition, so that Shelley’s engagement with her Gothic predecessors becomes as complex and nuanced as with her Romantic peers or with scientific thought. As a result, new insight is provided here into Shelley as a writer at work. This volume is written with great clarity and verve, and will gratify both Shelley scholars seeking a fresh angle on the subject, and students and readers seeking an accessible introduction to Shelley’s writing.’
- Catherine Spooner, Professor of Literature and Culture, Lancaster University
Mary Shelley: A Chronology
Chapter One: Frankenstein
Chapter Two: Matilda
Chapter Three: Valperga
Chapter Four: ‘On Ghosts’ and The Last Man
Chapter Five: ‘Terror, Horror and Transformation’
Henry Fuseli. ‘The Nightmare’
Engraving of ‘Juliet’ from The Keepsake for 1831