Sunday, August 25, 2013

Celebrating the Birth . . . Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley (30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851)
      Sometimes lightning only needs to strike once and not only mere greatness, but immortality is achieved. Shelley is generally remember for one work only, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818 / 1831) and yet it is enough to mark her as one of the nineteenth century's greatest writers.  Everyone is familiar with the Frankenstein legend, although if you haven't read  the novel yet, you will likely be surprised at how much better it is than any of the loose film adaptations. Shelley wrote several other stories, but never recaptured the magic of her great novel.  Her only work of note for QuasarDragon is The Last Man (1826), an early apocalyptic novel, featuring a world ravished by an unstoppable plague. It is an important novel in the history of science fiction, but is rather lethargically paced and extremely tedious to read.

At Project Gutenberg:
Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) Gothic Horror. [The better edition]
     "This expectation will now be the consolation of your father. Elizabeth, my love, you must supply my place to your younger cousins. Alas! I regret that I am taken from you; and, happy and beloved as I have been, is it not hard to quit you all? But these are not thoughts befitting me; I will endeavour to resign myself cheerfully to death, and will indulge a hope of meeting you in another world."

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1831) Gothic Horror. [The lesser edition, but with illustrations]
      "In this house I chanced to find a volume of the works of Cornelius Agrippa. I opened it with apathy; the theory which he attempts to demonstrate, and the wonderful facts which he relates, soon changed this feeling into enthusiasm. A new light seemed to dawn upon my mind; and, bounding with joy, I communicated my discovery to my father. My father looked carelessly at the titlepage of my book, and said, 'Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash.'"

The Last Man (1826). Apocalyptic. Plague.
     "She paused. 'To my task,' she continued mentally, 'my guests must not perceive the reality, either as it regards him or me. I obey; they shall not, though I die the moment they are gone. They shall behold the antipodes of what is real—for I will appear to live—while I am—dead.' It required all her self-command, to suppress the gush of tears self-pity caused at this idea. After many struggles, she succeeded, and turned to join the company.

Audio at LibriVox:
Old Time Radio
• At Internet Archive: Frankenstein: Old Time Radio Classics
    Adaptations include the 1932 serial, The Witch's Tale, The Weird Circle, Favorite Story, Suspense, NBC Short Story, and others.


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