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4 - Returning to the Text of Frankenstein

Graham Allen
Affiliation:
University College Cork
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Summary

One could be forgiven for thinking that there was little left to say about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Over the past thirty years or so the novel has been at the centre of various disciplinary reforms and revolutions, from the rise of feminist literary criticism to the canon-changing re-evaluation of Romantic literature in Britain, the United States of America and elsewhere. It has become one of the most talked about, one of the most taught, and one of the most written about texts of the Romantic period. One perhaps could be forgiven, also, for being a little tired of Frankenstein. Scholars of Mary Shelley have themselves shown signs of such a weariness in the past ten years or so, as one can see from such book titles as The Other Mary Shelley: Beyond Frankenstein, or Iconoclastic Departures: Mary Shelley after Frankenstein. The desire of critics and scholars dedicated to Mary Shelley's work to get ‘beyond Frankenstein’ is understandable. We need to remember, however, that in order to ‘go beyond’ something, we should have a good idea of what that something is. It turns out that, despite a certain collective weariness with Frankenstein, and despite a perceived over-concentration on this one, famous novel, we did not know that novel sufficiently, and in many cases were in fact talking about a novel ‘we’, rather than ‘the Author of Frankenstein’, had invented.

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Publisher: Pickering & Chatto
First published in: 2014

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