Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shelley clatter

Inflammatory prose gets people thinking. That’s what has happened in the cultural studies world as ripples still spread from the plunk into the pond of John Lauritsen's polemical book claiming that Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote Frankenstein. (No woman, no teenager, could possibly create such a work, he argues, etc.)

A clear-headed and broad-viewed discussion of the background, the book, and the consequences of it in the intellectual landscape has been posted on the web in the Fall 2007 issue of The Common Review.

Author Jonathon Gross wisely directs our attention away from the Lauritsen book and over to the momentous two-volume Frankenstein Notebooks, the work of Charles Robinson, which photoreproduce the monster manuscript and chronicle the novel's writing practically day by day.

Gross ends his piece with a lyrical passage from Robinson, recalling the days that he spent at work in the Oxford University library, where the Shelleys and the fictional Victor Frankenstein all spent time as well. Here, he quotes Robinson as saying, “the historical and the fictional pasts were intertwined.”

From such a place, such a moment, such an attitude, emanates heartfelt and longlasting writing.

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