Last week I forgot to write a preamble before my post and I’m sorely tempted to leave it blank again. I always fail to come up with anything interesting to say here but feel that I need to lead into this rundown. Today my family and I celebrated Burns night a few days late so I’m exhausted and full of food. I don’t think this food coma is going to make reading before bed any easier. We do something most years because, no matter how much we appreciate ole Rabbie, we just bloody love haggis. I can’t believe that it’s still January. This month has been going on forever. Seriously, Christmas feels like it was years ago. Yet, I’ve still on managed to get up to my 4th book of 2018. That initial speed I experienced has seriously disappeared. I’m going to have to do better in February or I’ll do what I always do and slow to a snail’s pace. I’ve got so many books to get through. And as my book buying ban is having super questionable results it’s even more important that I get through some.
This January marked the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley’s masterpiece of science-fiction and horror has, quite rightly, become something of a classic since she anonymously published the book in 1818. The book went through several different editions over the years but the 1818 is still, in my mind, the definitive version of the story. If only because it so closely resembles the story as it was first ever told. We all know the story of how Mary Shelley came up with Frankenstein and it is, in all probability, part of the reason the story has endured for so long. One Summer in 1816, Percy and Mary Shelley, Byron, and John Polidori all gathered at Byron’s villa Lake Geneva in Switzerland. They propose a writing competition to create horror stories to tell each other the next night. The idea for Frankenstein came to Mary Shelley in a waking dream:
I saw with shut eyes, but acute mental vision – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life …
After some work and editing, the idea that Mary came up with that Summer in 1816 became one of the most important novels to come out of the Romantic period. After all, it has spurned a monstrous number of film and television adaptations and has inspired many more writers. Shelley is praised for her vivid imagination and modern thinking. She went far beyond the science of her day to imagine something that has withstood the test of time and changed the landscape of gothic horror. It’s a book that I have countless times now and have enjoyed more and more with every read. It featured in my both my Undergraduate coursework and my final Postgraduate dissertation. I bloody love this book and am happy to commemorate it’s 200th anniversary.
I’ve been a huge fan of the literature of the Romantic period since I was 16 years old and I first read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It was unlike any other poem that I’d ever read and I wanted to read more. I attended Lancaster University as an Undergraduate and was able to immerse myself deeper into that period. Obviously, a University that is so close to the Lake District has a strong connection to Romantic poets so it was easy to indulge my passion. The more I read the more I loved it. I fell in love with Byron and Shelley. I adore Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley. I’ve grown frustrated with young women sighing over Keats and championing Jane Austen as a pioneer for modern feminism. It’s been a long and fulfilling love affair with a period of literature that has such a rich literary and historical significance. Something that I further explored when I studied Romantic Literature and Culture for my Postgraduate degree. Of course, when I told most people the name of my course they assumed I was studying the works of Gilly Cooper or something. Seriously, if I had £1 for the number of times I’ve had to explain it to people then I still wouldn’t be able to pay off my student debts but I’d have a fair few pound coins.