Chaviva Levin Dissertation

This page intentionally left blank Contents Introduction 3 I ROMANTICISM AND RESISTANCE Mary Shelley's Sympathy and Irony: The Editor and Her Corpus, 17 MARY FAVRET Editorial Privilege: Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley's Audiences, 39 SUSAN J. Walton Litz, who encouraged and assisted us at an early stage. The preparation of the manuscript was assisted by the research of Margit Dimenti, Richard Kaye and Sarah Zimmerman; in preparing the manuscript, we were funded in part by the Department of English of Princeton University under the auspices of the John E. We also wish to acknowledge the team at Oxford—Elizabeth Maguire, Susan Chang, Stanley George and Beth Hanlon—for the professionalism and patience with which they saw our manuscript into print. Wiley Online Library requires cookies for authentication and use of other site features; therefore, cookies must be enabled to browse the site.

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A 1989 survey of some three hundred American universities, conducted by Harriet Kramer Linkin, reports that over half of Romantics courses now include Mary Shelley;7 presumably, this means that one of every two students of Romanticism has read Frankenstein.

And yet while Frankenstein has become canonized in the classroom, little has changed for Mary Shelley; now it is the pale face of Victor Frankenstein that obscures the pale face of his creator.

During this decade, feminists of widely differing 3 4 Introduction agendas used Frankenstein to advance critiques of masculinist bias in literary theory. simply because it does not speak the language of feminist individualism which we have come to hail as the language of high feminism within English literature."5 Margaret Homans's Lacanian reading of Frankenstein in Bearing the Word (1986) defines the psychosocial predicament underlying the novel as "the self-contradictory demand that daughters embody both the mother whose death makes language possible by making it necessary and the figurative substitutes for that mother who constitute the prototype of the signifying chain."6 According to Romans, however, Frankenstein allegorizes not the predicament of the Lacanian mother (or daughter) but of the Lacanian son, who "seeks figurations that will at once make restitution for the mother and confirm her death and absence by substituting for her figures that are under his control" (107).

In Barbara Johnson's hands (1982), Frankenstein becomes a pre-text for feminist autobiography, an allegory of "autobiography as the attempt to neutralize the monstrosity of autobiography."4 For Gayatri Spivak (1985), it becomes a novel that resists "the axiomatics of imperialism," "a text of nascent feminism that remains cryptic . Frankenstein, for Homans, represents Lacan's elaboration of the oedipal crisis under the sign of romantic desire.

CANTOR The Last Man: Apocalypse Without Millennium, 107 MORTON D.

WOLFSON Reading Mary Shelley's Journals: Romantic Subjectivity and Feminist Criticism, 73 MARY JEAN CORBETT Mary Shelley and the Taming of the Byronic Hero: "Transformation" and The Deformed Transformed, 89 PAUL A. LEW II CULTURE AND CRITICISM Swayed by Contraries: Mary Shelley and the Everyday, 185 LAURIE LANGBAUER Disfiguring Economies: Mary Shelley's Short Stories, 204 SONIA HOFKOSH Subversive Surfaces: The Limits of Domestic Affection in Mary Shelley's Later Fiction, 220 KATE FERGUSON ELLIS Mary Shelley in Transit, 235 ESTHER H. PALEY Proserpine and Midas: Gender, Genre, and Mythic Revisionism in Mary Shelley's Dramas, 124 ALAN RICHARDSON Beatrice in Valperga: A New Cassandra, 140 BARBARA JANE O'SULLIVAN God's Sister: History and Ideology in Valperga, 159 JOSEPH w.Furthermore, as a novel, Frankenstein licenses a critical examination of Shelleyan radicalism by embedding the anticommunitarian ambitions of its Shelleyan visionary within the frankly dysfunctional polity of Republican Geneva.Hence, Frankenstein has become a sturdy pedagogical tool for deconstructing the transcendental Romantic imagination; in the crudest terms, Frankenstein, by the monstrosity of the creature's body, signals the suppression of gender in the ethos of Romantic egotism.After 6 Introduction the abandoned Harriet Shelley committed suicide, Mary Godwin and Percy Shelley were soberly married on December 30, 1816; their liaison, begun in ecstatic conviction of their mutual destiny, was increasingly strained by Percy Shelley's attachments to other women (including, among others, Jane, now Claire, Clairmont, Emilia Viviani, and Jane Williams), by the vicissitudes of Claire Clairmont's relationship with Lord Byron, and, most painfully, by the deaths of the two Shelley children who had survived infancy, Clara in 1818 and William in 1819.A third child, Percy Florence, born shortly after William's death, was the only one to survive into adulthood.In her three volumes of Mary Shelley's letters (published in 1980, 1983, and 1988 respectively), Betty T.Bennett brought to light hundreds of previously unpublished letters which shed new light on Mary Shelley's thirty-year career as a writer, on her political opinions and commitments, on her family relationships, and on her personal friendships.8 The Journals of Mary Shelley (1987), edited by Paula R.Reading Frankenstein as Mary Shelley's self-conscious revision of Percy Shelley's Alastor and, more generally, of his theories of love, Homans credits Mary Shelley with a coherent critique of Romantic egotism and Romantic desire; by itself, Homans's chapter suggests why Frankenstein has by now secured a firm place not only in courses on women writers, but also in undergraduate surveys of British Romanticism.Whereas the Keatsian ethos of negative capability was formerly regarded as the most compelling—most teachable—critique of Romantic egotism from within Romanticism, Frankenstein advances its critique in terms of an incipient feminist politics, one resonant with the revolutionary alarum sounded by the pioneeer feminist Mary Wollstonecraft a generation earlier.


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