Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley


A real rarity: the Edison Studios 1910 film adaptation of Frankenstein — thirteen minutes and one reel, as was the fashion of the time.  It is startling to think that just barely one lifetime after her death, Shelley’s novel was already being adapted at the very dawn of the film industry, making her monster one of the most recognizable of all movie characters, even if that character usually bore little resemblance to her original literary creation.

Today is Mary Shelley‘s birthday (1797-1851).

Frye on Frankenstein in A Study of English Romanticism:

An almost equally remarkable example of Romantic irony is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  The story is not, as it often is said to be, a precursor of science fiction: it is a precursor rather of the existential thriller, of such a book as Camus’ L’Etranger.  The whole point about the monster is that he is not a machine, but an ordinary human being isolated from mankind by extreme ugliness, Blake’s “different face.”  The number of allusions to Paradise Lost in the narrative indicate that the story is a retelling of the account of the origin of evil, in a world where the only creators we can locate are human ones.  Frankenstein hunts down his monster in the same way that moral good attempts to destroy the moral evil that it has itself created: Frankenstein is as much a death principle as his quarry, and is surrounded by the vengeful spirits of his monster’s victims.  (CW 17, 122)

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