“Invention consists in the capacity of seizing on the capabilities of a subject, and in the power of molding and fashioning ideas suggested to it.”
~ Mary Shelly ~
My book group is reading Frankenstein this month in honor of Halloween. I read Mary Shelley’s classic gothic tale as an undergraduate many years ago, but don’t think I truly appreciated what a remarkable achievement this novel was for a twenty-year old woman.
In her introduction to the 1831 edition, Shelley explains that she came to write Frankenstein during the “wet, ungenial summer” she and her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley spent in Switzerland. Their neighbor, Lord Byron, decided they should write ghost stories to occupy themselves while they were “confined…for days to the house.” (I was fascinated to read that scientists now think that the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora caused that rainy summer in Europe the following year.) She describes in detail how the idea for the story came to her after listening to discussions between Byron and Shelley about “the nature of the principle of life.”
About halfway through the novel, just before Victor confronts his creation high in the Alps outside Geneva, Shelley quotes this poem by her husband, a bittersweet reminder about the fleeting nature of our joys and sorrows.
Be sure to visit Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty for the Poetry Friday Round Up.