Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Frankenstein: Contextual Documents (pp.190-223)
Readings: Godwin, Caleb Williams; Wollstonecraft, Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman; Paracelsus, On Creation; Rousseau, Emile, or Education; Davy, A Discourse, Introductory to a Course of Lectures on Chemistry; Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther.
Easy question this time: Choose TWO of the above readings and explain how they provide useful context for reading/interpreting some aspect of Frankenstein. Be specific--show how individual passages and ideas from the excerpts relate to the novel, and influence what we read either in small passages or the entire work. Remember, Shelley read all of these works prior to writing Frankenstein, which means that even subsconsiously (though more likely, quite consciously) these works were eager co-collaborators.
As a bonus, here are some works that she recorded as reading in her Diary from the years 1815-1816, just prior to and during the composition of Frankenstein. These are only a FEW of the many works she consumed in this relatively short period of time--she was a voracious reader, and probably slightly in compeition with her husband; she kept a strict record of all the books both read, and if we trust her accounting, she always came out ahead! You might consider visiting some of these works as primary sources for your Paper #2, especially if you've already read them. Note how many Gothic works occur in these formative years! Also, some of these works she was merely re-reading, such as works by her parents.
SELECTED READINGS OF MARY SHELLEY (from her Journals):
1815: Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther; Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Ovid's Metamorphoses; The Arabian Nights; Wordsworth's Poems; Spenser's The Fairy Queen; Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland (an American Gothic novel); Rousseau's Confessions; Beckford's Vathek; Milton's Paradise Lost; Sir Walter Scott's Waverley; Swift's A Tale of a Tub; Lives of Abelard and Heloise; The New Testament; Coleridge's Christabel and Other Poems; Shakespeare's Plays (doesn't say which ones); Alexander Pope's translation of The Iliad; Voltaire's Micromegas; Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; Plutarch's Lives; George Ansons's Voyages Around the World; Lewis's Tales of Wonder (Matthew "Monk" Lewis--author of The Monk); Radcliffe's The Castle of Udolpho...
1816: Livy's History of Rome; Euripides' Plays (doesn't say which ones); James Machperson's Ossian poems (he was a poet who claimed he had discovered the "lost" Celtic epics, which he claimed were written by a Homeric bard named Ossian--later discovered to be a fraud); Mungo Park's Journal of a Journey in Africa; Byron's Seige of Corinth; Godwin's Caleb Williams; Montesquieu's Persian Letters; Rousseau's Emile, or Education; Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent; Cervantes' Don Quixote; Richardson's Pamela and Sir Charles Grandison; Swift's Gulliver's Travels; Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman...