Contents Index

Parenting Frankenstein

Zachary Leader

Chapter 4 of Revision and Romantic Authorship (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 167-205.

{167} Mary Shelley's Frankenstein might well be cited in the debate about editions and personal identity at the centre of Part I of this book. The novel was begun in June 1816 and finished eleven months later, in May 1817. After two rejections (from John Murray and Charles Ollier), it was published anonymously in March 1818 by Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, and Jones of Finsbury Square, London, and in 1823 a two-volume reprint was issued, this time under the author's name. The year 1823 was also when Mary Shelley presented a hand-corrected first-edition copy (including additions, marginal notes, excisions, and substitutions) to an acquaintance from Italy, a Mrs Thomas.1 It was not, however, until 1831 that corrections from this copy, together with other revisions, were incorporated into the version known to most Victorian and twentieth-century readers, the Colburn and Bentley 'Standard Novels' edition. It is often argued that the differences between the first or 1818 and the third or 1831 editions are analogous to the differences between the 1805 and 1850 versions of The Prelude; both have their champions, and the arguments adduced for earlier or later versions -- growing orthodoxy, energy versus clarity -- are familiarly Wordsworthian. My concern in this chapter, though, is with a prior moment in the novel's history, one which questions authorial autonomy and identity in new ways, opening the topic of revision out to encompass issues of collaboration or dual authorship.2 This 'moment' occurs when Mary Shelley turns to Percy Shelley in the course of the novel's composition and allows him to revise it -- rather as Walton allows {168} Frankenstein to correct the notes he has made of Frankenstein's 'narration'.3

Recent feminist scholars have come to see Percy Shelley's revisions -- as many as five or six a page, virtually all of them incorporated in the published editions -- as impositions. They see Mary Shelley as cripplingly insecure about her status as author, frightened not only of producing fictional 'monsters' or 'abortions', but of herself becoming monstrous, a fear compounded partly of a prejudice against 'forward' women in general, partly of particular experiences such as Percy's dream of 18 June 1816 (the second of the famous ghost-story nights), in which Mary appears as a hideous villainness with nipples for eyes.4 The argument, in short, is that her circumstances -- as an unpublished 18-year-old, an unmarried mother, a woman cut off from her family, dependent financially and personally on an older, male writer, published author of novels, essays, and poems -- deprived Mary of freedom of choice.5 The novelist or poet who willingly accedes to a friend's or editor's suggested revisions takes responsibility for those revisions, remains in some sense their author. Mary Shelley, however, was in no position to reject Percy Shelley's suggestions. Like any woman writing in the late eighteenth century, as Johanna M. Smith puts it, she was 'conditioned to think she needed a man's help'. Moreover, Smith continues, with uncharacteristic hyperbole, 'collaboration forced by a more dominant writer on a less powerful and perhaps unwilling "partner" is a kind of rape'.6

{169} This view of the young Mary Shelley's helplessness or passivity relies importantly on Mary's habit, after Percy's death, of exaggerating her meekness and dependency, a habit which, as Ellen Moers puts it, 'contributed to the generally held opinion that she was not so much an author in her own right as a transparent medium through which passed the ideas of those around her'.7 It also undervalues contemporary accounts -- those of Leigh Hunt, Keats, Mary's doctors8 -- which. stress quite different qualities: directness, precision, irony, command, qualities frequently found in the early journal entries (those written before Shelley's death), as in the laconic concision of, for example, 'correct F[rankenstein]. S[helley] reads Alcestes -- a little turmoil in the evening'.9 The evidence points both ways, often within individual instances. For example, here is how Mary describes herself to Edward John Trelawny in 1819, in the course of refusing to supply him with anecdotes about Percy Shelley:

You know me -- or you do not, in which case I will tell you what I am -- a silly goose -- who far from wishing to stand forward to assert myself in any way, now than [sic] I am alone in the world, have but the desire to wrap night and the obscurity of insignificance around me. This is weakness -- but I cannot help it -- to be in print -- the subject of men's observations -- of the bitter hard world's commentaries, to be attacked or defended! this ill becomes one who knows how little she possesses worthy to attract attention -- and whose chief merit -- if it be one -- is a love of that privacy which no woman can emerge from {170} without regret -- Shelley's life must be written -- I hope one day to do it myself, but it must not be published now.10
James P. Carson has written shrewdly about this passage:
What I find interesting in this fear of publicity is not whether Shelley is telling the truth or whether she strategically evokes a conventional ideal of femininity in order to justify a refusal that seems inconsistent with friendship and professional generosity. Rather, I am struck by the hope which Mary Shelley expresses in the final sentence, a hope to write Percy Shelley's life herself, a hope which reflects belief in her own authorial talents that is not wholly consistent with her fear of appearing before the public in writing.11
What Carson identifies here as Mary Shelley's belief in herself as an author, and what it implies more generally about the strength of her character, is corroborated elsewhere. 'Shelley agreed with me', writes Mary of her early favourable assessment of Trelawny, 'as he always did, or rather I with him.'12 The note of calculation here recalls a somewhat later, comparably clear-sighted, account of the origins of Byron's approval of her, 'which stands greatly I believe on my known admiration of his writings and my docility in attending him'.l3 'I have sent my novel to Papa,' Mary writes to the same correspondent, Maria Gisborne, in reference to Valperga (1823), 'I long to hear some news of it . . . as with an author's vanity I want to see it in print and hear the praises of my friends.'14 When Valperga finally appears, Mary writes to Leigh Hunt asking for {171} a review, again in a manner both modest and ambitious: though Valperga is 'merely a book of promise', it is also 'another landing place in the staircase I am climbing'.15

Moments like these encourage one to oppose the argument of constraint, arguing instead that Mary Shelley consciously, willingly welcomed Percy Shelley's contributions; that this welcoming was not only, paradoxically, an expression of authorial ambition (he would improve her novel), but an enactment or performance, a living out, of the novel's central themes; and that underlying these themes is a vision of authorship different in kind from those of the writers discussed in Part I of this book, a vision that, for example, calls into question the supposedly inevitable conflict, in Mary Poovey's words, 'between the self-denial demanded by domestic activity and the self-assertiveness essential to artistic creation'.16 Here, at last, is the sort of revisionary practice wrongly attributed (in various ways, as I have been arguing) to Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Byron: one that consciously -- and successfully -- resists the conventional image of the authorial self as single and autonomous. Mary Shelley would be offended -- it would violate her principles -- were the text to be returned to its pre-Percy form.


Frankenstein is an implicit attack on the Romantic writer, a type figured in Frankenstein himself, the monster's 'author' (a phrase applied to Frankenstein three times in the first edition, in each case, it has been argued, in a revision by Percy Shelley17), and in the explorer, Robert Walton, who only turns to exploring {172} after aspiring to poetic fame.18 'I also became a poet,' Walton confesses at the novel's outset, 'and for one year lived in a Paradise of my own creation; I imagined that I also might obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated' (p. 11). To mount this argument, though, one must first distinguish between different strains of Romanticism. Frankenstein is anti-Romantic in its rejection of what might be called the 'Promethean' vision of the artist (as God-like, autonomous, transgressive), and of the goal of perfection, as in William Godwin's ultra-rationalist prescriptions for social renovation, his attempts, as Wordsworth puts it, 'to abstract the hopes of Man / Out of his feelings, to be fixed thenceforth / For ever in a purer element' (The Prelude, 1850, xi. 225-7), or Percy Shelley's vision of a perfect future in Canto 3 of Queen Mab (1813) or his quest for the perfect mate, in life as in verse (for instance, in 'Alastor' or 'Epipsychidion').19 In the months preceding the dream vision which inspired Frankenstein, Mary and Percy Shelley worked together on a French translation of Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and Mary was also present during Percy's subsequent debates with Byron over human perfectibility, though 'incapacity and timidity'20 prevented her from saying much. The theme of human perfectibility, moreover, was sometimes connected in these debates with discussions of galvanic electricity and the possibility of reanimating corpses. When Frankenstein hopes, like God, to 'bestow animation upon lifeless matter. . . renew {173} life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption' (p. 49), his ambition is more than a mere figurative expression of Romantic idealism, it is also a literal concern of Romantic poets and writers.

At the same time, the novel is Romantic (this is particularly true of the 1818 version) in its vision of a benevolent, Wordsworthian or Thomsonian -- also Rousseauistic or Godwinian -- nature, the measure of all truth and goodness. The monster is monstrous because it is 'unnatural', both in conception and as a result of its upbringing. To create the monster, Victor tells us, he was obliged 'to procrastinate all my feelings of affection until the great object, which swallowed up every habit of my nature, should be completed' (p. 56). While Victor shuts himself off in his laboratory, 'winter, spring, and summer, passed away during my labours; but I did not watch the blossom or the expanding leaves . . . so deeply was I engrossed in my occupation' (p. 51); earlier, he tells us, his eyes were 'insensible to the charms of nature. And the same feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me also to neglect those friends who were so many miles absent' (p. 50) These defects recall Wordsworth's 'Enough of Science and of Art; / Close up those barren leaves; / Come forth, and bring with you a heart / That watches and receives' ('The Tables Turned') or the subtitle of Book 8 of The Prelude: 'Love of Nature Leading to Love of Mankind'.

The sources of Mary Shelley's critique of the 'Promethean' writer are easily traced. To begin with, there is the example of her father, William Godwin, to whom the novel is dedicated. Godwin's idealism was no mere matter of theory; in his private life, too, the personal or familial was sacrificed to the public, parental responsibility was neglected (though not at first, both for Mary and her illegitimate half-sister, Fanny Imlay21), money scrounged, in the interests of 'principle'. 'Children are a sort of {174} raw material put into our hands,' writes Godwin in the Enquiry, 'a ductile and yielding substance, which, if we do not ultimately mould in conformity to our wishes, it is because we throw away the power committed to us, by the folly with which we are accustomed to exert it.'22 The most notorious examples of this 'experimental' or 'scientific' habit of mind, of unfeeling 'principle' (as in the Fenelon revisions discussed in the previous chapter), created a public image of Godwin, in De Quincey's words, as 'monstrous': 'most people felt of Mr. Godwin with the same alienation and horror as of a ghoul, or a bloodless vampire, or the monster created by Frankenstein'.23

Though unfair and exaggerated, this picture of Mary's father was fed by moments of real-life adamancy and obtuseness. Godwin was not, especially in the 1810s, a man easily crossed. 'When people disagreed with him,' writes a recent commentator, 'or, worse, disobeyed him, he simply cut them off -- as he did, for instance, with Mary's beloved childhood nanny, whom she never saw again after the age of 3. When . . . Fanny committed suicide (this happened in October of 1816, during the composition of Frankenstein), Godwin refused to have her body brought back to the house, and insisted that this once-favoured child be buried in a pauper's grave.'24 Earlier, of course, Godwin in effect abandoned Mary, exiling her when she and Percy Shelley, who was already married, ran off together. Such rigidity obviously plays its part in the character of Frankenstein, whose wilfulness or single-mindedness also removes him from personal or familial realms. 'If no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquillity of his domestic affections,' declares Victor, in a telling comparison of scientist and imperialist, 'Greece had not been enslaved, Caesar would have spared his country, America would have been discovered more gradually, and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not {175} been destroyed' (p. 51). D. H. Lawrence famously saw the connection between the reputedly controlling or perfectionist aspirations of Godwin and Frankenstein by way of Benjamin Franklin: 'if on the one hand Benjamin Franklin is the perfect human being of Godwin, on the other hand he is a monster, not exactly as the monster in Frankenstein, but for the same reason, viz., that he is the production or fabrication of the will, which projects itself upon a living being and automizes that being according to a given precept.'25

Jean-Jacques Rousseau provides a second major source for Mary Shelley's critique of 'Promethean' Romanticism. Rousseau, of course, was an influence on both Mary Shelley's parents: Godwin's debt to him throughout his writings is clear and explicit; so, too, is Mary Wollstonecraft's, one of whose characters, in The Wrongs of Woman: or Maria. A Fragment (1798), describes Rousseau as 'the true Prometheus of sentiment'.26 {176} Immediately before and during the months in which Frankenstein was composed, Mary Shelley read the Confessions (Part I (1782), Part II (1789), written 1765-70), Émile (1762), and Rêveries du promeneur solitaire (1782, written 1776-78), and the Lake Geneva and Alpine scenes in the novel have long been recognized as indebted to La Nouvelle Héloïse (1761).27 'Write -- and read the reveries of Rousseau,' reads a typical journal entry of the period.28

The precise nature of Rousseau's influence on Frankenstein is complicated. To begin with, the monster can be seen as a sort of noble savage, a victim, like Rousseau, of society; he, too, is an outcast, exile, and wanderer, 'author' also of a sort of autobiography or confession. More importantly, there are connections between Rousseau and the monster's creator. In particular, as David Marshall puts it, 'Frankenstein is guilty of a crime that Rousseau was notorious for throughout Europe: he is a parent who abandons his child. . . . [Rousseau] made orphans of the five infants born to him and Thérèse Lavasseur.'29 Rousseau's children are imagined by Mary Shelley, in words that apply equally to Frankenstein's creature, as 'brutified by their situation, or depressed by the burden, ever weighing at the heart, that they have not inherited the commonest right of humanity, a parent's care'; like Victor, Rousseau 'neglected the first duty of man by abandoning his children'.30

Percy Shelley, though, was the Romantic writer who mattered most to Frankenstein, and has long been acknowledged as {177} a model for its eponymous hero, even by those who think his qualities eventually shift to Henry Clerval.31 Shelley's idealism was as extreme as Godwin's: 'The word perfectibility,' writes a recent biographer, William St Clair, 'was seldom far from his lips. He longed for the day, he told his friends, when Man would live in accordance with Nature and with Reason and in consequence with Virtue.'32 Percy Shelley's idealism, moreover, was 'philosophical' -- that is, Platonic and Kantian -- as well as political (he had been interested in Plato from his Eton years); the two types of idealism were linked, as in the ''Hymn to Intellectual Beauty', which is celebrated as a source both of earthly beauty and of freedom from slavery. In either political or philosophical forms, though, Mary Shelley mostly disapproved.

This disapproval, it has been argued, was lifelong. As early as the crude and unfinished 'A History of the Jews', an essay conjecturally dated between 1814 and 1816, 'glimmerings of . . . dissent'33 from Radical idealism and perfectionism are discernible; in Frankenstein and the other early novels these glimmerings glow more brightly; in Mary's introduction to her 1839 edition of Percy's poems, they positively blaze. It is here, for example, that Mary disparages those of her husband's verses which are 'purely imaginative' as opposed to 'those which spring from the emotions of his heart'. Though the former cling to a 'subtler inner spirit', they do so at the expense of 'outward form'; that is, actual people and things.34 Mary, on the other hand, seeks, as she puts it in a journal entry of 25 February 1822, speaking of her 'fellow creatures', to 'love that which is, -- and not fix my affections on a fair form endued with imaginary attributes'.35 {178} As Percy suggests in his anonymous preface to the 1818 edition of Frankenstein, just such an ambition, paradoxically, underlies the novel's recourse to a story 'impossible as a physical fact': the story 'affords a point of view to the imagination for the delineating of the human passions more comprehensive and commanding than any which the ordinary relations of existing events can yield' (p. 6). Similarly, part of what is wrong with Victor's scientific ambitions is the way they oblige him to fix his attention 'upon every object the most insupportable to the delicacy of the human feelings' (p. 47).

What made Percy Shelley's idealism impossible for Mary Shelley were the unignorable realities of her experience, in particular the loss of children: a two-week-old daughter, Clara, in 1815, a year-old daughter, also Clara, in 1818, three-year- old William in 1819. It was not true, as Percy Shelley would have it, that 'all woe and pain' were within our control, a product of 'selfishness, or insensibility, or mistake', or that 'evil is not inherent in the system of creation, but an accident that might be expelled'.36 Like Byron, as Ernest J. Lovell has argued, Mary Shelley sometimes opposed not only 'any ideas implying the perfectibility of man', but any lack of sympathy 'for such related ideas as a denial of predestination or of the positive existence of matter and of evil'.37 The only way to maintain idealistic beliefs like these, Mary Shelley argued, was to close oneself off from the world. As she put it in a note to Prometheus Unbound, 'he sheltered himself from . . . disgusting and painful thoughts in the calm retreats of poetry, and built up a world of his own, with the more pleasure, since he hoped to induce some one or two to believe that the earth might become such'.38 That the 'one or two' Mary Shelley refers to here were primarily the women Percy Shelley variously desired -- Harriet Westbrook Shelley, Claire Clairmont, Emilia Viviani, Jane Williams, Mary Shelley herself -- and the 'world of his own' one in which desire was to be unconstrained by such conventions as marriage, monogamy, or minority, gives ironic edge to the note.

{179} Both Percy and Mary Shelley, though obviously to different degrees, suspected such 'idealism', even as they forwarded it. 'Alastor', for example, is as much about the dangers of idealism, of spurning actual or outward love and sympathy ('the spirit of sweet human love', line 203) in favour of a shadowy ideal, as it is about idealism's attractions; it is also, one could argue, about the inevitability of pain and loss. Though Percy Shelley continued to believe, in Mary Shelley's words, 'that mankind had only to will that there should be no evil, and there would be none', he also was prepared to admit evidence to the contrary.39 This doubleness suggests that Percy may have been as drawn to Mary's scepticism as to what Claire Clairmont calls her 'great understanding and liking for the abstract subjects and high thoughts he delighted in'40; rather as Mary seems to have found Percy's ardour and idealism simultaneously dangerous and attractive, as reflected, for example, in the heroic as well as misguided character of Frankenstein's doomed defiance and persistence, his capacity to endure and suffer. Mary may never have been quite the fearless radical of Peacock's fictions -- Anthelia in Melincourt (1817), Stella in Nightmare Abbey (1818) -- but neither was she Trelawny's 'slave of convention'.41 She simply insisted, as does Frankenstein, on the unignorable reality of the material world, the weight of which, as George Levine puts it, 'is a continuing comment on Victor's ambition, as the obscene flesh of the charnel house is the imaged irony of Victor's attempt to create life out of matter'.42


{180} The consequences of a Romantic or 'Promethean' outlook were, then, experienced first-hand by Mary Shelley, both as a daughter and a wife. They are also vividly imagined in her depictions of parenting and child-development in Frankenstein, a novel which can be seen as participating in contemporary debate about childhood and education, debate of obvious political moment (with the monster as 'Model Child', a related 'experiment' of the period). At the same time, they help to determine Mary Shelley's attitudes to writing and revision. In the 1831 introduction to Frankenstein the two themes are brought together when she refers to the novel as her 'hideous progeny' (p. 229), and declares, as 'frightful' not just the creation, as in the novel's inaugurating dream, of 'the hideous phantasm of a man', but 'any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world', including, as is clear from a subsequent reference to the phantasm's creator, that of the 'artist' (p. 228). Anne K. Mellor also points out that the period between the first letter Walton sends his sister, the letter which opens the novel, and the letter which ends it, is nine months, and that 'these nine months correspond almost exactly with Mary Shelley's third pregnancy', a pregnancy which itself mostly overlapped with the novel's composition.43

The death of Mary's first child, though, in 1815, was probably the crucial biographical experience underlying the novel, not only because of its effect on Mary herself, but because of Percy's behaviour during the whole episode, behaviour Mellor {181} characterizes as 'indifference'.44 The evidence for this 'indifference' is found in the journal entries of the time, both those of Percy and of Mary (or 'Maie'). '[Maie] is in labour,' writes Percy in the entry for 22 February 1815, 'and, after very few addit[i]onal pains she is delivered of a female child -- 5 minutes afterwards Dr. Clarke comes. all is well. Maie perfectly well and at ease The child is not quite 7 months. The child not expected to live. S[helley] sits up with Maie. much agitated and exhausted.' The next day, Percy notes: 'the child unexpectedly alive, but still not expected to live'; and the day after, the 23rd, he writes of 'favorable symptoms in the child -- we may indulge some hopes. . . . Dr. Clarke calls. confirms our hopes of the child.'45 Such entries seem sensibly cautious or self-protective rather than unfeeling; by themselves they hardly constitute 'indifference'.

The entries that follow, from 26 February until the child's death on 6 March, are Mary's, and what immediately strikes one about them are her references to the child first as 'the baby', then as 'my baby': 28 February: 'I come down stairs -- {182} talk -- nurse the baby and read Corinne [Corinne; ou d'Italie, by Madame de Stael, 1807] and work'; 1 March: 'Nurse the baby -- read Corinne and work'; 2 March: 'A bustle of moving -- read Corinne -- I and my baby go about 3'; 3 March: 'Nurse my baby -- talk and read Corinne -- Hogg comes in the evening'; 4 March: 'Read talk and nurse'; 5 March: 'S and C[laire Clairmont] go to town -- Hogg here all day -- read Corinne and nurse my baby -- in the evening talk -- S finishes the Life of Chauser [by Godwin, published in 1803] H[ogg] goes at II.'46 From the beginning, these entries suggest, Mary was unable to maintain the emotional distance counselled by her doctor, a distance implied in Percy's references to 'the child'. At the same time, partly at Percy's bidding, her relations with Hogg were growing more intimate and complicated, as were Percy's with Claire Clairmont (at this time 'Clara' or 'Clary'). On 26 February, four days after the child's birth, Mary's journal entry reads as follows: 'Maie rises today -- Hogg comes -- talk -- she goes to bed at 6. Hogg calls at the lodgeings we have taken -- read Corinne S. and C. go to sleep -- Hogg returns -- talk with him till 1/2 II -- he goes. S and C go down to tea -- just settling to sleep when a knock comes at the door -- it is Fanny [Imlay] -- she came to see how we were -- she stays talking till 1/2 3 -- and then leaves the room that S and M. may sleep. S. has a spasm.'47 It is difficult, with an entry like this, not to read between the lines. What is Mary's attitude to Hogg's constant presence, or to Percy's and Claire's gathering intimacy? Several journal pages from this period have been removed, but later entries provide clues. Two weeks after the entry of 26 February, on 11 March, Mary records the following despondent note: 'Talk about Clary's going away -- nothing settled -- I fear it is hopeless. She will not go to Skinner St [Godwin's home] -- then our house is the only remaining place. . . . [W]hat is to be done[?]' The next morning, Mary pronounces herself 'happy': 'for Clary does not get up till 4'.48 Mary's feelings about Hogg, however, are more puzzling. Hogg first met Mary in November 1814, and by 1 January 1815 had declared his love, a declaration sanctioned in part by Percy's theories. Mary responded in a letter of the same day, but in a manner neatly balanced between encouragement and {183} reserve: 'You love me you say -- I wish I could return it with the passion you deserve -- but you are very good to me and tell me that you are quite happy with the affection which from the bottom of my heart I feel for you -- you are so generous so disinterested that no one can help loving you. But you know Hogg that we have known each other for so short a time and I did not think about love -- so that I think that that also will come in time and then we shall be happier I do think than the angels who sing.'

Betty Bennett explains the ambivalences of this passage, and of the relation in general, as follows: 'Evidently she came to enjoy Hogg's attentions. Her strongest motivation in this experimental relationship, however, seems to have been to please Shelley by embodying his doctrine of love unrestrained by social conventions, and typically her expressions of affection for Hogg are overshadowed by her love for Shelley.' As for Percy's and Claire's relations, we know for certain that Percy was writing love poems to her, the 'Constania' lyrics of 1816. Whether they actually made love is less clear. Kenneth N Cameron, 'reviewing the various analyses', concludes that they may well have been having an affair, but that if so it was shortlived.49 Percy's physical complaints are also suggestive. By 1814 he was convinced he had contracted syphilis and was going to die, and in the winter of 1814 and the summer of 1815 he consulted William Lawrence, a surgeon and physician in Godwin's circle. Though this fear was unfounded, the spasms of pain he suffered seem to have been perfectly genuine, and may indeed have resulted, as he claimed, from earlier injury but according to Thornton Leigh Hunt, 'they tended to occur at times when Shelley was under some mental strain'.50 In a period, then, in which she was trying to nurse her dangerously premature first-born infant daughter to health (without, it should be added, much in the way of experienced help or advice), Mary had also to consider not only Percy's complaints, but the emotional entanglements he could be thought to have initiated.51

{184} The intensity with which Mary reacted to the infant's death is pathetically, protectively masked in the journal. Here is the famously laconic entry of Monday, 6 March: 'Find my baby dead -- Send for Hogg -- talk -- a miserable day -- in the evening read fall of the Jesuits [Despotism; or, the Fall of the Jesuits, by Isaac D'Israeli, published in 1811] H. sleeps here.' The extraordinary calm of this entry is partly explained by an entry written a week later, on 13 March: 'S[helley] H.[ogg] and C.[lary] go to town -- stay at home net and think of my little dead baby -- this is foolish I suppose yet whenever I am left alone to my own thoughts and do not read to divert them they always come back to the same point -- that I was a mother and am so no longer.'52 The prophylactic effects of reading, however, work only until sleep, and after another week, on 19 March, Mary dreams a dream almost as important to Frankenstein as the nightmare which was its immediate inspiration: 'Dream that my little baby came to life again -- that it had only been cold and that we rubbed it by the fire and it lived -- I awake and find no baby -- I think about the little thing all day. not in good spirits -- Shelley is very unwell.'53

Though it is impossible to know precisely how Mary Shelley connected the trauma of her baby's death with Percy's mysterious (needy?) symptoms and the tangled emotional relations he helped foster, the whole episode is bound to have raised questions about the 'Promethean' character, questions Frankenstein obviously anatomizes. 'The thoughtless rejection of family in the pursuit and perpetration of universal perfectibility, deeply disturbed her,' a recent student of the early novels is convinced, 'and it is clear that she often resented PBS . . . for his refusal to be intellectually, artistically or spiritually compromised by a family's needs.'54 That this refusal was unconsciously connected {185} in Mary Shelley's mind with the death of her children ('unintentionally', claims Marilyn Butler, Percy 'even contributed to the death of her second daughter, another Clara, in September 1818 by ordering Mary to travel across Italy with the sick child in the Italian summer heat'55) might well account for the name she gave to the monster's first victim, the child William, the name also of her infant son, who would die in 1818 at age 3.56

Such suspicions relate directly to authorial attitudes. Mary Shelley took authorship seriously. That it was impossible 'to dispose of my writings without being in England', she claims in a letter of c.2 July 1823 to Jane Williams, was her sole reason for leaving Italy after Percy Shelley's death.57 The burden of her parents' literary legacy left her 'ever afraid of being proud of what I do not possess', yet determined to possess it.58 Never, though, was Mary Shelley anything like as obsessive or perfectionist about her writing as, say, Wordsworth, especially at the beginning of her career. She may have taken authorship seriously, but she also found it difficult to think of herself as an author, and her early journals and letters barely mention composition (the journal entries are restricted to the matter-of-fact expressions 'write' or 'work'). Family affairs, the mundanities of child-rearing and travel in particular, take priority. She was also open about the defects of her writing, of her style in particular, as also about the writing's often unconscious origins.59

Which is not to say that authorship was for Mary Shelley a mere 'activity', as Byron claimed it to be for himself, or that she {186} ever shared her husband's stress on process over product, an outlook she saw as evasive. As Mellor puts it, 'even before Percy Shelley in his Defence of Poetry dismissed the composed poem as a "fading coal" of its originary inspiration, Mary Shelley understood that the Romantic affirmation of the creative process over its finite products could justify a profound moral irresponsibility on the part of the poet'; the poet, she believed, 'must take responsibility for his actions'.60 Hence the place she was careful to find for revision in the composing process. 'I hope to finish the rough transcript this month,' she writes to Maria Gisborne of Valperga, 'I shall then give a month to correction and then I shall transcribe it -- It has indeed been a child of mighty slow growth.'61 The failure of responsibility to one's products -- to their proper 'rearing' or 'correcting' -- is of a piece for Mary Shelley with failures of responsibility towards one's family, the very failures figured in Victor Frankenstein's irresponsible engendering and abandonment of the monster, or in the irresponsibility of the real-life models on whom Frankenstein was based.

That Mary Shelley's sense of personal responsibility never led her to illusions of authorial autonomy is also a product of her sense of her writings as 'progeny'. In the introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, she recounts the circumstances out of which the novel grew, its communal inception. But she also, it is clear, wants to be acknowledged as the novel's ultimate author, insisting that she 'certainly did not owe the suggestion of one incident, nor scarcely of one train of feeling' to Percy Shelley (p. 229). When the first edition appeared in 1818, and Sir Walter Scott mistook Percy for its creator, she was quick to reveal herself as author, ostensibly to prevent Scott from 'continuing in the mistake of supposing Mr. Shelley guilty of a juvenile attempt of mine; to which -- from it being written at an early age, I abstained from putting my name -- and from respect to those persons from whom I bear it'.62 This ambivalence is seen also in a letter to Hobhouse of 1O November 1824, in which Mary declares 'an irreversible objection to the seeing of my name in print', but also insists that 'the Preface to {187} Frankenstein proves that that story was conceived before Lord Byron's and Shelley's tour around the lake, and that [Monk] Lewis did not arrive in Geneva until some time after'.63

These contradictory attitudes derive, in part, from Mary Shelley's desire that her novel be seen as 'natural', 'healthy', despite its horrid subject-matter and its author's seeming 'unnaturalness' (her sex, her age, her unconventional upbringing, with its absence of the sort of 'gentle and feminine tutelage' that civilizes and restrains Walton). The novel's subject-matter left the anonymous reviewer of the March 1818 Quarterly Review 'in doubt whether the head or the heart of the author be the most diseased', a reaction that may in part have been politically motivated, a product of the novel's dedication to Godwin.64 But Mary, too, was given to doubts about her naturalness, as the language of the 1831 introduction suggests, with its talk of the vision that helped inspire the novel having 'so possessed my mind, that a thrill of fear ran through me' (p. 228), a phrase which suggests the very galvanic spark or charge that brings the monster itself to life.

The desire to see her novel as 'natural', Ellen Moers suggests, connects with the pregnant Mary's anxieties about her capacity to have a healthy child.65 It also connects, I believe, with the novel's depressing account of single parenting, even when the parent in question is as benevolent as Victor's father, a man who 'gradually relinquished many of his public employments, and devoted himself to the education of his children' (p. 28), or old Mr DeLacey.66 Children -- 'progeny' -- need fathers and mothers. When the monster comes to knowledge, chief among the lessons that impresses him most deeply is that of 'the birth and growth of children; how the father doated on the smiles of {188} the infant, and the lively sallies of the older child; how all the life and cares of the mother were wrapt up in the precious charge' (p. 116); he also bitterly complains that 'no father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses' (p. 117). Percy Shelley's collaboration gives the book two 'parents', makes its engendering 'normal', freeing Mary Shelley and her literary offspring from the female author's taint of forwardness or abnormality, the sort of taint that causes her in the 1831 introduction to stress that it was Percy Shelley who 'urged me to develope the idea at greater length' (p. 222). 'Shelley and I talk about my story,' she notes in a journal entry of 21 August 1816 -- like parents chatting about children.67 The manuscript offers several instances of collaborative interplay, of Mary, in effect, improving on Percy's additions, as when Percy's gothicizing 'I knew the vessel in which he was concealed and he escaped I know not how,' becomes Mary's 'I took my passage in the same ship but he escaped I know not how' (p. 200).68

Mary Shelley's subsequent work as editor and amanuensis reinforced her sense of authorship as collaborative. As we have seen, she was the most trusted of Byron's amanuenses. She began copying for him in 1818, transcribing 'Ode to Venice' and Mazeppa, and continued to do so until his death in 1824, providing fair copies for many important poems, including the final ten cantos of Don Juan. From the first, in the Mazeppa manuscript, Mary Shelley made minor alterations (mostly involving capitalization and punctuation); it is ironic to see her in 1818, while transcribing Mazeppa, 'clarifying' Byron's text precisely as Percy Shelley clarified Frankenstein two years earlier: eliminating imprecise end-of-line dashes, adding commas, full stops, more emphatic internal dashes. Byron 'evidently approved' fifty-four of these emendations.69 He also approved {189} several more substantial revisions, though at this very early stage in their professional relation he rarely sanctioned changes in whole words. Later on, as Byron's confidence in her grew (thanks, perhaps, to what Jane Blumberg identifies as an 'audition' for the fair-copying of Don Juan, a 'vigilantly' proofed transcript of Werner, 1821),70 so did the boldness of Mary Shelley's alterations. On occasion, Byron offered her alternative couplets to choose from, abiding by her decisions. He even authorized an unproofed transcript of Canto 16, the last completed canto, to be used as printer's copy. This easiness can only have reinforced the lessons of mutuality Mary Shelley both taught and learned in Frankenstein and its creation.

Nowhere is the professional trust between Byron and Mary Shelley more remarkable than over questions of sexual tact or delicacy, precisely the questions over which Byron felt the advice of Murray's Utican Senate untrustworthy. For example, though stoutly resisting Mary Shelley's repeated attempts to substitute 'heart' for 'breast' (as in Canto 6, stanzas 15, 66, and 86) Byron uncomplainingly accepted 'w--re' for 'Whore' (also in Canto 6, stanza 91), and willingly changed an unprintable personal joke in Canto 8 about 'being taken by the tail -- a taking / Fatal to warriors and to women,' to Mary's more acceptable 'a taking / Fatal to bishops as to soldiers.' Here and elsewhere, Mary Shelley's alteration is not so much prudish as prudent. The allusion to sodomy is still obvious, but as Blumberg observes, is 'at least open to alternative interpretation [while] removing Byron personally from the fray'.71 That the passage is not to Mary Shelley's taste is only secondarily the cause of its revision; more important is her sense that it would lose the poem readers. For unlike less notoriously 'conventional' friends and associates of Byron, including Teresa Guiccioli, who also acted as copyist, Mary Shelley admired the poem, even at its riskiest and most risqué; she wanted it to have an audience. 'I have nearly finished your savage Canto,' she writes to Byron on 21 October 1822 (of Canto II), 'You will cause Milman to hang himself. . . . Your fashionable world is delightful'; 'these last Cantos', she tells Trelawny, in a letter of z April 1823, 'are unequalled in their strictures upon life and flashes of wit'; 'I {190} delight in your new style much more than in your former glorious one,' she announces to Byron of The Deformed Transformed, her first assignment after Mazeppa.72 Similarly, when in 1830, while editing Trelawny's Adventures of a Younger Son, and trying to get it published, she advises him to cut certain potentially offensive passages, the market remains her prime motive. 'I beseech you', she writes him, on 27 December 1830, 'to let me deal with them as I would with Ld Byrons Don Juan -- when I omitted all that hurt my taste -- Without this yielding on your part I shall experience great difficulty in disposing of your work.'73

These experiences of collaborative authorship are anticipated in Frankenstein itself. When Frankenstein 'corrected and augmented' Walton's notes, he sought to give the narrative 'life and spirit'; without his help it might have been delivered to posterity in a 'mutilated' form (p. 207), a term which recalls Percy's addition of the word 'abortion' (p. 219) to describe the monster. But as the novel also suggests, it is not enough merely to 'normalize' the work's creation or birth; the infant or draft has also to be 'raised', a belief implicit in the novel's emphasis 'not upon what precedes birth, not upon birth itself, but upon what follows birth'74 -- most importantly, abandonment, the experience with which the novel's composition began (chapter 4 in the 1818 edition, chapter 5 in the edition of 1831). Once the {191} first draft was completed, it could not just be abandoned (in the offhand manner Byron affected, a manner Mary Shelley may also have related to his treatment of actual children, in particular his and Claire Clairmont's daughter, Allegra); to revise her works was to treat them as she would have her children -- any children -- treated. The good parent, like the good author, neither abandons its offspring nor seeks wholly to control or shape them.

Hence, in part, Mary Shelley's behaviour in the final stages of the novel's publication. The corrected holograph manuscript (in the Abinger collection in the Bodleian) differs markedly from the printed text of 1818, but the fair copy from which the printers worked has never surfaced. Mary Shelley corrected proofs, but she also authorized Percy to do so; as Mellor has properly objected, the assumption of previous editors that Percy alone altered proofs is simply wrong.75 Proofs were sent directly to Percy (partly to protect Mary's anonymity), who assured the publishers in a letter of 22 August 1817 that he'd been 'authorized' to amend 'any mere inaccuracies of language', and were returned to the publisher on 23 October, with a covering letter declaring that he'd 'paid considerable attention to the correction of such few instances of baldness of style as necessarily occur in the production of a very young writer'.76 That Mary Shelley had indeed authorized such changes is clear from a note of 24 September 1817 accompanying her own corrections. 'In looking it over,' she writes to Percy, 'there appeared to me some abruptnesses which I have endeavoured to supply -- but I am tired and not very clear headed so I give you carte blanche to make what alterations you please.'77

Mary Shelley did not abandon her novel when she granted Percy Shelley carte blanche, she merely bowed to what she saw as reality: she was exhausted from nursing a child and running a family, and Percy Shelley was a more accomplished stylist. On this last point she was unselfconsciously clear: unless carefully deliberated, she told Leigh Hunt, apropos the unauthorized printing of passages from a letter, her writing lacked 'print-worthy dignity'; unedited, she 'cut a very foolish figure'.78 This sensible recognition not only of self-limitation but of the role of external forces in literary creation, of contingency, is found also in her reactions to analogous non-literary dilemmas. When, for example, Godwin at last relented and broke his silence with Percy and Mary, he did so to caution Percy about his choice of estates; not, on the face of it, an especially disinterested or rational reason. 'All this is very odd and inconsistent,' comments Mary, 'but I never quarrel with inconsistency -- folks must change their minds.'79 This comment recalls Byron on contradiction, but its spirit is different; it aims neither to shock nor affront, is no incitement to despair or cynicism. It is simply forgiving or understanding.

Emily Sunstein, in her biography of Mary Shelley, connects such a temperament to genre. 'Her optimism', she writes, 'was tempered by modulated expectations and acceptance of an irreducible human condition. A natural novelist, she liked detail, complexities.'80 Novels, moreover, especially in the early decades of the nineteenth century, had relevant class associations. 'Mary Shelley's rejection of the "me" and her embrace, of non-originary authorship,' writes Carson, 'are signs of the anti-elitist, "popular" nature of her work.'81 Such signs, of course, can also be read in conventional feminist as well as generic or class terms, as a refusal of 'patriarchal' notions of selfhood, in which, in Toril Moi's words, 'the self is the sole author of history and of the literary text. . . . God in relation to his world, the author in relation to his text.'82

The compositional consequences of Mary Shelley's temperament, whatever the terms one uses to explain it, are clear: she was able to produce drafts 'fast and with few strike-outs' (the initial text was apparently written 'nearly without emendation'),83 conscious that they would have to be altered or edited -- by {193} herself, but also by friends and advisers. Like Walton, she 'did not belong to that class of men who are offended by advice' (p. 23). This initial ease of composition was related to a more general tendency or principle: an unwillingness to sacrifice 'life' to 'art', in the manner of a Frankenstein. For example, though willing harshly to criticize her father in Mathilda, a thinly disguised autobiographical novella (but featuring a father's incestuous love for his daughter) written in the late summer of 1820, Mary Shelley also consulted him about publication; when Godwin inevitably objected, calling the work 'disgusting and detestable',84 it never appeared. Similarly, when Mary sent a draft copy of Valperga to Godwin, Percy suspected, in a letter of 29 May 1822, that she'd be 'delighted to amend any thing that her father thought imperfect in it'.85 He was right. Though Godwin confessed to Mary that he had 'taken great liberties with [the work?], and I am afraid your amour propre will be proportionately shocked',86 Mary accepted these liberties calmly. It was Percy, the 'Promethean' poet, who would resist what Mary elsewhere calls her father's 'curtailments'.87 Percy was particularly exercised about Mary's depiction of the 17-year-old prophetess Beatrice, whose speeches are sometimes openly blasphemous. If Godwin wants the character of Beatrice altered, he writes, 'I should lament the deference which should be shown by the sacrifice of any portion of it to feelings or ideas which are but for a day.'88

Mary's antipathy to such high-mindedness is seen in her work on Percy's texts as well as in her own authorial practice. As editor, writes Betty Bennett, 'Mary Shelley became Shelley's collaborator, returning more than in kind the guidance he had given her when she wrote Frankenstein and other early works.'89 {194} Here, too, I would add, collaboration, the attempt to realize or fulfil or share her husband's original aims and interests, has been mistaken for imposition -- just as in the case of Percy's work on Frankenstein. For example, after Mary Shelley's relations with Trelawny had begun to sour (perhaps because, as we have seen, she discouraged his attempts to write Percy Shelley's life), Trelawny took grave objection to her edition of Percy Shelley's poems, in particular to the omission of certain controversial passages in Queen Mab (as well as the dedication to Percy's first wife). Mary protested her innocence as follows: 'My motive for the omission was simply that when Clarke's edition appeared [a pirated version of 1821] Shelley rejoiced that it was omitted -- and expressed great satisfaction thereon. It could be nothing to me but a matter of pleasure to publish it. My motive was the purest and simplest that ever activated any one. If convinced that I am in the wrong, it shall be restored in the next edition.'90 The following day, in a journal entry, Mary repeats this explanation, but also offers a different motive for the omission, one that recalls her earlier warning about the indelicate passages in Trelawny's own writings: 'when I was told that certain portions would injure the copyright of all the volumes to the publisher, I yielded'.91 This motive also recalls the explanation she gave to Leigh Hunt, in a letter of 6 October 1839, for the omission of the essay 'On the Devil and Devils' (?1819-21) from her edition of the collected Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1840): that its inclusion would 'preclude a number of readers [of the volume as a whole] who else would snatch at it'.92

The tone of the journal entry about Queen Mab, though, is complicated. The offending verses were omitted 'to do him {195} honour -- What could it be to me? -- There are other verses I should well like to obliterate for ever -- but they will be printed -- and any to her [Jane Williams, presumably] could in no way tend to my discomfort; or gratify one ungenerous feeling. They shall be restored.'93 The sense of personal injury in this episode is palpable; these are verses, one feels, Mary Shelley would herself not have wanted printed had she been their author; restoring them in the one-volume second edition, also of 1839, like publishing the two 'Jane Williams' poems, 'The Invitation' and 'The Recollection', is thus both an act of principle ('I don't like Atheism,' she wrote to Leigh Hunt on 12 December 1838, 'yet I hate mutilation'94) and a crossing or thwarting of personal or temperamental preference. That Percy Shelley himself shared her reservations she means to prove by including in the second edition his letter of 22 June 1821 to The Examiner denying he ever intended to release the poem for the general public: 'not so much from literary vanity, as because I fear it is better fitted to injure than to serve the cause of freedom'95 -- which is much like the reason Mary settles on for its initial censoring.

In sum, though Mary Shelley's editing of her husband's writing was far from complete or error-free, as P. D. Fleck puts it, in reference to the 1824 Posthumous Poems, there is little evidence 'that she manipulated Shelley's texts in the light of a personal critical judgement of his thought'.96 Her aim, on the contrary, was fidelity to the original work. It was Mary herself, for example, who first published Percy's reproachful dedication to her from 'The Witch of Atlas', a poem in which an ideal {196} creature or 'fair Shape' (line 325) -- a sort of anti-monster -- is created by 'strange act' from 'fire and snow' (line 321). Nor was publishing the dedication, in which Percy accuses Mary of being 'critic-bitten' (line 1), an act of self-abasement. As her notes to the poem make clear, Mary stood by her criticisms. She opposed what the dedication calls 'visionary rhyme' (line 8) only in part for market reasons: 'It was not only that I wished him to acquire popularity as redounding to his fame; but I believed he would retain a greater mastery over his own powers, and greater happiness in his mind, if public applause crowned his endeavours. The few stanzas that precede the poem were addressed to me on my representing these ideas to him. Even now I believe that I was in the right.'97


At the heart of the controversy over Percy Shelley's revisions of Frankenstein lies a question of degree: when does advice or assistance become collaboration or co-authorship? James Rieger, in the influential introduction to his 1974 reprinting of the 1818 edition, claims that Percy Shelley was responsible for important general (that is, thematic and structural) features of the narrative. These include wording the contrasts between Victor's and Elizabeth's characters; singling out the Swiss republic for praise (in one of the novel's few overt political passages, an important locus for Marilyn Butler's sense that it is only with Frankenstein and Melmoth the Wanderer 'that an ideological hatred of oppression and value for the person can be read into a sustained English Gothic tale'98); providing the most powerful features of the novel's description of Mont Blanc; suggesting that Frankenstein travel to England to create a female companion for his monster; and supplying the sombre note on which the novel ends. He also credits Percy with more local narrative and thematic clarifications, especially the smoothing of transitions, the correction of misspellings, grammatical and factual mistakes, scientific or technical imprecisions ('laboratory' {197} for 'workshop' (p. 162), 'instruments' for 'machines' (p. 46)), obvious implausibilities (for example, changing the duration of Frankenstein's pursuit of the monster at the North Pole from three months to three weeks (p. 204)), and awkward phrasing. Percy Shelley's assistance, he concludes, 'at every point in the book's manufacture was so extensive that one hardly knows whether to regard him as editor or minor collaborator' (p. xvii).

This was the view also of E. B. Murray, the first critic to look closely at Percy Shelley's revisions. To Murray, the revisions were 'original enough to suggest that at times his creative impulse added its own initiative to the novel's effect'.99 Anne Mellor, in contrast, thinks Percy Shelley's revisions less extensive; she also thinks they damaged as well as improved the text.100 Mellor rightly points out that Percy Shelley merely expanded rather than initiated both the contrast between Victor's and Elizabeth's characters and the description of Mont Blanc, a description which owes more to Mary Shelley's 1816 journal observations and letters to Fanny Imlay, subsequently published in 1817 in History of a Six Weeks' Tour, than to Percy Shelley's poem. As for the journey to England, Percy merely suggested that Victor rather than Alphonse propose the idea; the journey itself was Mary's invention.

The first objection Mellor raises to the actual character of the revisions is that 'by far the greatest number' substitute a formal, pedantic diction -- 'stilted, ornate, putatively Ciceronian'101 -- for Mary Shelley's looser and more natural language (e.g. 'conversed' for 'talked', 'augment' for 'add to', 'penury' for 'poverty'; and on the level of the phrase, 'a considerable period elapsed' for 'it was a long time', 'neither of us possessed preeminence over the other' for 'we were all equal', 'eyes . . . insensible to' for 'eyes . . . shut to', 'depositing the remains' for 'wrapping the rest'). When critics complain of the 'inflexibly public and oratorical nature of even [the novel's] most intimate passages',102 it may well be Percy Shelley's work, or his influence, about which they are complaining. Mary's Frankenstein swears that he 'would not die until my adversary lay at my feet', Percy's accepted revision has him declaring that he would 'not relax {198} the impending conflict until my own life, or that of my adversary, were extinguished' (p. 192). 'I do not wish to claim that Mary Shelley was a great prose stylist,' declares Mellor after an anthology of such passages, 'but only that her own prose, despite its tendency toward the abstract, sentimental, and even banal, is more direct and forceful than her husband's revisions.'103

But could it not be argued that Percy's style is appropriate? Characters like Frankenstein, Walton, even the monster (a student, after all, of Plutarch, Milton, and Goethe), are at least in part figures of Percy Shelley himself. Ought they not to speak like him? Though Percy Shelley may not have intended his alterations to make the novel's characters take on his voice -- formal, cultured, 'Ciceronian' -- they did, and Mary Shelley doubtless knew or sensed as much, approving. This point is hardest to make, of course, with respect to the monster, whose status as victim is somewhat obscured by Percy Shelley's more commanding and rhetorical idiom -- the idiom, for example, of the final thirteen pages of the revised manuscript, in which the monster recounts his feelings after having murdered Clerval. The artless dashes, short sentences, and syntactic simplicity of the original present a significantly less sinister and culpable figure than that of the fair copy, with its complex and composed flourishes. Here is Mary's original text of the monster's confession:

When Clerval died I returned to Switzerland heart-broken and overcome -- I pitied Frankenstein and his bitter sufferings -- My pity amounted to horror -- I abhorred myself -- But when I saw that he again dared for happiness -- that while he heaped wretchedness and despair on me he sought his own enjoyment in feelings and passions from the indulgence of which I was forever banned -- I was again roused to indignation and revenge. I remembered my threat and resolved to execute it -- Yet when she died Nay then I was not miserable -- I cast off all feeling and all anguish. I rioted in the extent of my despair and being urged thus far -- I resolved to finish my demoniacal design. And it is now ended -- There is my last victim.
Here is Percy's edited and expanded version of the passage:
After the murder of Clerval, I returned to Switzerland, heartbroken and overcome. I pitied Frankenstein; my pity amounted to horror: I {199} abhorred myself. But when I discovered that he, the author at once of my existence and of its unspeakable torments, dared to hope for happiness; that while he accumulated despair and wretchedness upon me, he sought his own enjoyment in feelings and passions from the indulgence of which I was forever barred, then impotent envy and bitter indignation filled me with an insatiable thirst for vengeance. I recollected my threat and resolved that it should be accomplished. I knew that I was preparing for myself a deadly torture; but I was the slave, not the master of an impulse, which I detested, yet could not disobey. Yet when she died! -- nay, then I was not miserable. I had cast off all feeling, subdued all anguish to riot in the excess of my despair. Evil thenceforth became my good. Urged thus far, I had no choice but to adapt my nature to an element which I had willingly chosen. The completion of my demoniacal design became an insatiable passion. And now it is ended; there is my last victim! (pp. 217-18)
I would agree that Mary Shelley's original makes the monster sound marginally more sympathetic than he does in Percy Shelley's version; the monster is, indeed, as others have argued, 'more frightening than we had imagined precisely because he does not stumble or speak in monosyllables'.104 Percy Shelley himself, moreover, may have shared this view, since the passage is something of an exception, his alterations to the monster's story being less frequent than those to Walton's or Frankenstein's narratives.

That Mary Shelley herself went on, in 1823 and 1831, to further elevate the novel's idiom, suggests that she admired and emulated Percy Shelley's high or formal style -- which is partly why she accepted his revisions in the first place.105 When Percy Shelley's revisions seek to clarify, when he repeatedly excises {200} the indefinite 'this', or replaces dashes with colons or semicolons, or substitutes a subordinating 'which' for a co-ordinating 'that', Johanna Smith accuses him of 'imposing his order on [Mary Shelley's] ideas', of seeking 'to control her text'.l06 But what grounds are there for positing Mary Shelley's disapproval, for thinking clarification was for her 'imposition'? Though one can always argue that she grew more conservative with age -- was a different person -- her later revisions suggest quite the opposite: their aim, after all, as she declares in the 1831 introduction, was to mend faults of language 'so bald as to interfere with the interest of the narrative' (p. 229) -- that is, to mend unclarities.

A second and related objection to Percy Shelley's revisions, aside from the claim that they make the novel more stilted, is that they distort Mary Shelley's meaning, both inadvertently, as in the sort of stylistic 'improvements' we have been examining, and with conscious intent. Here is another example in which it is claimed that Percy's revisions make the monster more hideous -- more monstrous -- than he was in Mary Shelley's draft. When Frankenstein destroys the monster's 'bride', the monster withdraws in the holograph 'with a howl of devilish despair', to which Percy Shelley adds 'and revenge'. Mellor objects to this addition on the grounds that Percy is 'blunting our sympathy for the forever forsaken creature and destroying the author's more perceptive understanding'.l07 'Blunting' perhaps (though it is Mary who calls him 'devilish'), but 'destroying'? Moreover, is 'author' quite the right word here? Again, the voice we are listening to is Frankenstein's. Should we not see this revision, too, as appropriate to the narrative, as an expression of the narrator's -- that is, Frankenstein's -- point of view? Besides, what of Mellor's subsequent claim that although 'Mary Shelley saw the creature as potentially monstrous . . . she never suggested that he was other than fully human'?108 How is this possible given the holograph's stress -- much noted by Mellor -- on the 'inhuman', 'unnatural', 'unspeakable' character of the monster's creation? Part of the novel's power derives from the monster's being both human and monstrous. 'I have written a {201} book', she tells Leigh Hunt, in a letter of 6 April 1819' 'in <favour> of Polypheme'109 -- that is, depicting the essentially monstrous as worthy of human sympathy. Percy understood this dual perspective as clearly as Mary, which is why he was also, as Mellor herself points out, responsible for revisions which stress the monster's generosity, as in Felix's bewilderment at finding the creature's gifts: 'to his perpetual astonishment, he found his store always replenished by an invisible hand' (p. 108)' a revision which makes the DeLaceys all the more culpable in their subsequent horrified rejection of the monster.

Then there's the effect Percy Shelley's revisions have on Frankenstein himself. Mellor thinks these flatten his character. For example, in the original, Mary Shelley allows Frankenstein to justify his obsessive behaviour as follows: 'I wished, as it were, to procrastinate all that related to my feelings of affection, until the great object of my affections was completed.' Percy Shelley then rewrites the passage (presumably to excise the repeated 'affection'): 'I wished, as it were, to procrastinate all that related to my feelings of affection until the great object, which swallowed up every habit of my nature, should be completed' (p. 50). Mellor thinks this revision unsubtle: it 'removes Mary's powerful dramatic irony: Frankenstein will of course feel no affection whatsoever for his creature. Moreover, Mary's calculated repetition underlined the degree to which Frankenstein had substituted work for love.'110 The lost irony Mellor laments here seems to me heavy-handed, not worth the awkwardness; the 'calculated' (how can she know?) repetition of 'affection' is hardly necessary to suggest that Frankenstein is sublimating. It could even be argued that the revision makes the passage more not less subtle, as well as smoother. So also with what Mellor sees as the loss of complexity in a subsequent passage, in which Frankenstein paces the streets of Ingolstadt the morning after the creature 'awakens' and flees. In Mary's original draft, Frankenstein describes himself as looking 'as if I sought the wretch whom I feared every turning of the street would present to my view', which Mellor praises for its psychological complexity, since it discloses 'the contradiction inherent in Frankenstein's {202} project (his desire to create what he did not wish to have)'.111 When Percy Shelley inserts 'avoid' after 'sought', producing 'as if I sought to avoid the wretch whom I feared' (p. 40), she claims, the complexity is lost. But examination of the manuscript in the Bodleian suggests that the complexity Mellor finds in the original is her own rather than Mary Shelley's. In the original, what Mary Shelley actually wrote was 'as if I ough sought to the wretch' -- that is, the presence of 'to' in the original suggests that Mary Shelley herself intended 'avoid', but simply forgot, perhaps because the 'ough sought' correction threw her off.

Mellor also accuses Percy Shelley of softening as well as simplifying Victor's characterization, of portraying him as victim rather than perpetrator (thus anticipating 'the same story that Percy Shelley would tell in Adonais of both Keats and himself at the hands of the critics'112). For example, she thinks it egotistical of Victor to assume that the monster will follow him to England, sparing his family and friends. When Percy persuades Mary to introduce doubts ('I was agonized by the possibility that the reverse of this might happen' (p. 151)), Mellor calls the addition 'disastrous', since it undercuts the novel's 'otherwise consistent portrayal of Frankenstein as an egotist who perceives only his own feelings and dangers'.113 Once again, this strikes me as an oversimplification, and the revision, if anything, an improvement. Victor is egotistical, but he's not consistently egotistical. In the two sentences that precede Percy Shelley's 'disastrous' intervention, Victor claims to be 'haunted' with a feeling 'which filled me with fear and agitation'. This feeling is 'that I should leave my friends unconscious of the existence of their enemy, and unprotected from his attacks, exasperated as he might be by my departure' (p. 151). Are these sentences not an expression of concern for others?

As for Victor's confidence that the monster will follow him: 'he had promised to follow me wherever I might go; and would he not accompany me to England?' (p. 151). This question is authored by Mary, and already implies doubt; Percy's addition merely makes it more explicit even as it underlines the complexity or subtlety of Victor's character, his capacity to be {203} alternately egotistical and selfless. Again, Mellor herself provides evidence of Percy's awareness that Victor was perpetrator as well as victim. When Mary has the monster tell Frankenstein, 'I am thy Adam,' it is Percy who alters 'am' to 'ought to be', just as he later has the monster distinguish between the pain caused by Frankenstein and those 'who owe me nothing' (p. 95) Moreover, several changes between the rough draft and the printed version, apparently made by Mary (no fair copies exist), serve to soften Frankenstein and harden the monster; and, of course, this is true also of several of the 1831 revisions, as in her alteration of 1818's 'How is this . . . I thought I had moved your compassion and yet you still refuse to bestow on me the only benefit that can soften my heart' to 'How is this? I must not be trifled with: And I demand an answer.'

In other words, the specific instances of 'imposition' adduced by Mellor are neither as alien nor as damaging as she claims. Nowhere is this clearer than in her account of the novel's final sentence. The original manuscript ends with Walton's last vision of the monster: 'I soon lost sight of him in the darkness and distance.' The fair copy in the Abinger collection ends with a revised version in Percy Shelley's hand: 'he was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance' (p. 221). Mellor calls Percy's revision 'a defensive maneuver to ward off anxiety and assert final authorial control over his wife's subversive creation',114 but 'lost in darkness and distance' is hardly more final or comforting than 'lost sight of . . . in the darkness and distance'. Mellor accuses Percy of 'flatly asserting' that the monster is 'lost in darkness and distance', but the phrase is hardly unambiguous. It is as likely to mean, or to be read as, 'lost to sight' as 'lost to existence'. Again, if anything, the revision is more open-ended than the original. What such instances suggest is that Percy Shelley ought to be treated seriously when he claims to have been 'united' in purpose with Mary Shelley, describing her 'excellencies' in terms that make him feel like 'an egoist expatiating upon his own perfections'.115 Such an admission may sound like 'narcissism', as Johanna Smith puts it, but the revisions themselves bear it out.

None of which is to deny that Mary Shelley is likely to have {204} felt dependent on Percy Shelley or was insecure about her style; it is only to maintain that his revisions of Frankenstein may have posed less of a test or threat than Mellor thinks. Even in the rare instances when Mary Shelley defies -- ignores? omits? -- her husband's alterations, it is not always easy to see why. As the monster peers into Frankenstein's laboratory in Scotland, his creator thinks, in the words of the original draft, that the creature's 'countenance expressed the utmost extent of malice and barbarity', a sentence Percy alters as follows: 'his countenance appeared to express the utmost extent of malice and treachery'. In the published version, Mary drops the added doubt (though 'treachery', as opposed to 'barbarity', stays) (p. 164). Mellor may be right in thinking this omission consistent with 'Mary's idea of how Frankenstein interprets faces and the general role of physiognomy in the novel',116 but such an idea is neither more subtle than the conception of Frankenstein's character implied in Percy's revision nor consistent with the overall depiction of Frankenstein's character. Frankenstein, after all, is elsewhere capable of doubt, and doubt is an obvious component of his torment. Here, as elsewhere, what the Shelleys are weighing are questions of emphasis. Victor is both victim and perpetrator, in Mary's original draft and Percy's revisions.

Mellor is more persuasive when she discusses Percy Shelley's additions of a political or ideological nature. Left to herself, Mary Shelley was quite capable of describing Frankenstein's experiments as an offence to God, or of referring to 'Christian lovers', a phrase Percy changes to 'youthful lovers' (p. 120). The monster's destruction, she writes, 'is a task enjoined by heaven'. It is Percy, one suspects, who feels compelled to add the secular alternative: 'the mechanical impulse of some power of which I was unconscious' (p. 202) (though, again, this way of speaking is perfectly consonant with Frankenstein's scientific character). In some instances, Mary, or Mary and Percy, caught such discordances, so that on 'third' thought, as opposed to second, they were eliminated, as in two extended additions to the rough draft in which Percy aims clearly personal satirical barbs at the pettiness of Oxford customs and ceremonies. Less obtrusive, but still startling, are Percy's interpolated attacks on {205} hierarchical privilege, in the comparison of Swiss with English and French institutions (p. 60), and on the 'slow torturing manner' of the legal profession (p. 83). In both instances, the narrative is disturbed; one senses the presence of an alien voice. Even here, though, there remain questions. The attack on hierarchical privilege reads as follows:

The republican institutions of our country have produced simpler and happier manners than those which prevail in the great monarchies that surround it. Hence there is less distinction between the several classes of its inhabitants; and the lower orders, being neither so poor nor so despised, their manners are more refined and moral. A servant in Geneva does not mean the same thing as a servant in France and England. (p. 60)

Though Percy interpolated this passage, it may well owe something to an earlier letter Mary wrote from Lake Geneva, one published prior to Frankenstein in the History of a Six Weeks' Tour Through a Part of France, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland (1817). 'There is more equality of classes here than in England', writes Mary in the letter. 'This occasions a greater freedom and refinement of manners among the lower orders than we meet with in our own country. I fancy the haughty English ladies are greatly disgusted with the consequences of republican institutions.'117 In the light of a passage like this, who is to say that Percy's interpolation was an imposition? The revision may introduce a discordant voice, but this voice may well be Mary's. As Carson suggests, 'in this and other additions to Frankenstein, Percy Shelley may be writing as he thinks his wife would (or should) write. What better way of writing like Mary Shelley than elaborating upon a passage from one of her own letters?'118 How appropriate, moreover, that Percy 'borrow' from Mary in a passage that is meant to have been written by a woman, Elizabeth Lavenza, in a letter to her brother. Here, as elsewhere, the novel's revision 'enacts' its themes of mutuality and interdependence. Writing becomes a genuinely social activity, limitation is equably acknowledged, authorship becomes a less fraught -- some would say a more humane -- activity.


1 This copy is now located in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.

2 These issues Jack Stillinger, in Multiple Authorship and the Myth of Solitary Genius (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 20, calls 'situations where someone other than the nominal author is essentially and inextricably a part of the authorship'.

3 Unless otherwise specified, all references to Frankenstein come from the 1818 edn., ed. James Rieger (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1974). See p. 207 for the correction of Walton's notes. The 1818 version is available in two other editions: it is the version preferred by The Mary Shelley Reader, ed. Betty T. Bennett and Charles E. Robinson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), and by Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus: The 1818 Text, ed. Marilyn Butler (London: William Pickering, 1993).

4 See entry of 18 June 1816 in John William Polidori, The Diary of Dr. John William Polidori, 1816, Relating to Byron, Shelley, etc., ed. William Michael Rossetti (London: Elkin Mathews, 1911), 125.

5 It is easy in retrospect to exaggerate Shelley's relative standing as an author at this time. Queen Mab (1813), Alastor (1816), and Laon and Cythna (1818) had, indeed, all been published, but at their author's expense. The first edition of Frankenstein, of course, quickly made Mary Shelley a more commercially successful writer than her husband; the book sold out and made a profit.

6 Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, ed. Johanna M. Smith, in the series Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism (Boston: Bedford Books of St Martin's Press, 1992), 275, 274. Smith is usually more reticent and qualified in her accounts of Percy's revisions. Their principal, and most influential, feminist critic is Anne K. Mellor in Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters (New York: Routledge, 1988).

7 Ellen Moers, 'Female Gothic', in Literary Women (Garden Ciq, NY: Doubleday 1976), 94. U. C. Knoepflmacher, in 'Thoughts on the Aggression of Daughters', in Levine and Knoepflmacher (eds.), The Endurance of Frankenstein (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), 95, explains Mary's passivity as follows: 'fearful of releasing hostilities which -- without a maternal model -- she regarded (or wanted to regard) as exclusively male attributes, Mary Shelley could resort only to passivity as a safer mode of resistance'.

7 See Emily W. Sunstein, Mary Shelley: Romance and Reality (Boston: Little Brown, 1989), 139. Also Mary Poovey, The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 143.

8 Entry of 1O Apr. 1817 in The Journals of Mary Shelley 1814-1844, ed. Paula R. Feldman and Diana Scott-Kilvert, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), i. 166.

10 Mary Shelley to Edward John Trelawny, Apr. 1829, in The Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, ed. Betty T. Bennett, 3 vols. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983), ii. 72.

11 James P. Carson, 'Bringing the Author Forward: Frankenstein through Mary Shelley's Letters', Criticism, 30/4 (Autumn 1988), 431.

12 Mary Shelley to Maria Gisborne, c.27 Apr. 1822, in Letters, ed. Bennett, i. 253. For a comparable later instance of ambivalence, again involving Percy Shelley, see the following parenthetical turn at the end of Mary Shelley's negotiations with Edward Moxon, from whom she rightly claimed a fee and possession of copyright for her work as editor of Percy's Posthumous Poems: 'The M.S. from which it was printed consisted of fragments of paper which in the hands of an indifferent person would never have been decyphered -- the labour of putting it together was immense -- the papers were in my possession & in no other person's (for the most part) the volume might be all my writing (except that I could not write it)' (Mary Shelley to Edward Moxon, 7 Dec. 1838, ibid. ii. 300).

13 Mary Shelley to Jane Williams, 1O Apr. 1823, ibid. i. 328.

14 Mary Shelley to Maria Gisborne, 9 Feb. 1822, ibid. 318.

15 Mary Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 3 Aug. 15 Aug.l 1823, ibid. 361.

16 Poovey, Proper Lady, 138.

17 The references occur on p. 87 and twice on p. 96 of the Rieger edn. As far as I can tell, after examining the originals (Abinger Dep. c. 477/I and c. 534, constituting in the Rieger edn. p. 30 l. 12 to 97 l. 16 and pp. 97 l. 17 to 109 l. 8, plus p. 117 ll. 17 to end), they do indeed seem to be in Percy Shelley's hand, but Johanna M. Smith, in '"Cooped Up": Feminine Domesticity in Frankenstein', her contribution to the 'Case Studies' in her edition of the novel, is probably right to caution reserve: 'The manuscript evidence for this assertion does not seem to me conclusive; moreover, even if it were he who introduced the word surely Mary Shelley would have had her own ideas of what it connoted' (p. 274 n.).

18 I am obviously not alone in this belief. Paul Cantor, e.g. in Creator and Creation: Myth-making and English Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press' 1984), 1O9, calls Frankenstein 'a nightmare of Romantic idealism, revealing the dark underside to all the visionary dreams of remaking man that fired the imaginations of Romantic myth-makers'.

19 Chris Baldick, In Frankenstein's Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-Century Writing (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), usefully points to moments in Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice which explicitly deny the possibility of 'perfectibility', which Godwin calls 'pregnant with absurdity and contradiction'. 'By perfectible is not meant that he [man] is capable of being brought to perfection,' insists Godwin, but 'continually made better and receiving perpetual improvement' (quotes from Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, ed. Isaac Kramnick (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1976), 144-5). Though the often 'rarified rationalism' of the Enquiry, Baldick admits, 'smacks of Frankensteinian irresponsibility', such rationalism is 'qualified by important warnings against the detachment of science from social ties' (p. 28).

20 Entry of 19 Oct. 1822, in Journals, ed. Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, i. 184.

21 According to Sunstein, Romance and Reality, 23, there is evidence that Godwin 'began by treating Mary as a great experimental opportunity', but eventually developed for her 'the strongest attachment that was in his nature'. She was educated at home, by Godwin himself, who gave her 'access to his many books, directing her reading, and in due course taking her to public lectures. He encouraged her literary abilities, in 1808 publishing her light verses "Mounseer Nongtongpaw, or the Discoveries of John Bull in a trip to Paris" in the Godwin Juvenile Library' (Butler (ed.), Frankenstein, p. x).

22 Godwin, Enquiry, 112.

23 Quoted in Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, ed. Maurice Hindle (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1992), p. xl. The comment comes from one of De Quincey's 'Autobiographical Sketches' originally published in Tait's Edinburgh Magazine, 4 (March 1837), 173-4. See The Collected Writings of Thomas De Quincey, ed. David Masson, 14 vols. (Edinburgh: Adam & Charles Black, 1896-7), iii. 35.

24 Wendy Lesser, in the introduction to the recently reprinted Everyman's Library edn. of Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), pp. ix-x.

25 Quoted in ibid., p. xiv. Coleridge, Godwin's friend and frequent visitor, is another obvious model for the 'Promethean' writer. Mary Shelley not only knew Coleridge personally -- knew the reality of his dependencies and irresponsibilities ('as if', in Wordsworth's words from 'Resolution and lndependence', 'life's business were a summer mood', one in which 'others should / Build for him, sow for him and at his call / Love him') -- but was much influenced by the image of the writer projected in his writings, particularly in the essays in The Friend, with their stress on individual genius (an image also projected in Madame de Staël's account in De l'Allemagne of Schlegel's distinction between the classical and the romantic, an account from which Coleridge borrows, and one Mary read in the autumn of 1815). Moreover, two of Coleridge s most famous poems, 'The Ancient Mariner' and 'Kubla Khan', are obvious and important presences in Frankenstein. In the opening pages of the novel, Captain Walton writes to his sister of journeying 'to unexplored regions, to "the land of mist and snow"' (p. 15), and in ch. 4 Frankenstein himself likens his haunted, fearful steps to those of the mariner quoting ll. 446-51 (p. 54). Both Frankenstein and his creation, moreover, are outcasts, like the mariner, and the icy landscapes over which they despairingly journey ironically comment on the Khan's caves of ice, as if denying the poetmaker's capacity to ally them -- magically, divinely -- with the sunny pleasure dome.

Though Byron was also, obviously, a 'Promethean' figure (and much like Godwin Shelley, and Coleridge in terms of personal or familial irresponsibility), he not only shared Mary Shelley's sceptical attitudes towards political and philosophical radicalism, but his example seems to have helped or emboldened her in resisting and questioning it. As Jane Blumberg puts it: 'Byron represented an alternative approach to the question of reform, one that was no less thrilling or attractive than PBS's, but which, beneath its iconoclasm, was somewhat more tolerant of conventional social and political structures' (Mary Shelley's Early Novels: 'This Child of Imagination and Misery' (London: Macmillan, 1993), 63).

26 Mary Wollstonecraft, The Wrongs of Woman: or Maria. A Fragment, in Mary and The Wrongs of Woman, ed. Gary Kelley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976), 89.

27 See Peter Dale Scott, 'Vital Artifice: Mary, Percy, and the Psychopolitical Integrity of Frankenstein', in Levine and Knoeplfmacher (eds.), Endurance, 174, for whom 'one might say that "The Modern Prometheus" is a pendant to Émile and La Nouvelle Héloïse'.

28 Entry of 1 Aug. 1816, in Journals, ed. Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, i. 112.

29 David Marshall, The Surprising Effects of Sympathy: Marivaux, Diderot, Rousseau, and Mary Shelley (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 187. Rousseau discusses the decision to 'abandon' his children in Books VII and VIII of the Confessions and the Rêveries du promeneur solitaire. Marshall points to the prominent part this incident plays in Mary Shelley's long and otherwise sympathetic biographical essay on Rousseau in the volume Eminent Literary and Scientific Men of France for Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopedia (1838-9). Though Mary Shelley wrote this article over twenty years after Frankenstein was published, as Marshall suggests, the language with which she reproaches Rousseau is 'remarkably similar to the reproaches that the monster makes to the parent who has abandoned and orphaned him' (p. 189, which also offers specific examples).

30 Quoted in Marshall, Surprising Effects of Sympathy, 188.

31 See Muriel Spark, Mary Shelley (London: Constable, 1988), 145. The most interesting and exhaustive of the accounts of Victor's resemblance to Percy Shelley is found in Christopher Small, Ariel Like a Harpy: Shelley, Mary and Frankenstein (London: Victor Gollancz, 1972), 100-21.

32 William St Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys (London: Faber & Faber, 1989), 317.

33 Blumberg, Mary Shelley's Early Novels, 29. Blumberg thinks Mary Shelley's questioning of 'optimism, idealism, and revolution' was present from the beginning of her writing life, though in the works which followed Frankenstein 'her criticisms become bolder and more confident' (p. 37).

34 Mary Shelley, 'Preface by Mrs. Shelley to First Collected Edition 1839', in The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Thomas Hutchinson (London: Oxford University Press 1956), p. x.

35 Entry of 2, Feb. 1822, Journals, ed. Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, 399.

36 This is Mary Shelley's characterization, from a note in her edition of The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, 4 vols. (London: Edward Moxon, 1839), iii. 159.

37 Ernest J. Lovell, 'Byron and Mary Shelley', Keats-Shelley Journal, 2 (19 Jan. 1953), 49.

38 Mary Shelley (ed.), Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ii. 139.

39 From the preface to ibid. i., 126.

40 Quoted in Sunstein, Romance and Reality, 72.

41 See ibid. 104-6. For Trelawny's comment see Letters of Edward John Trelawny ed. H. Buxton Forman (London: Oxford University Press, 191O), 225; see also the criticisms on pp. 229, 232, 234, 239-40, 259-60. Mary Shelley defended herself as follows. 'Some have a passion for reforming the world', she notes, in Journals ed. Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, ii. 553-4, in an entry of 21 Oct. 1838, explaining 'my lukewarmness in the "Good Cause"' -- 'others do not cling to particular opinions. That my Parents and Shelley were of the former class, makes me respect it. . . . I earnestly desire the good and enlightenment of my fellow creatures -- and see all in the present course tending to the same, and rejoice -- but I am not for violent extremes . . . I have never written a word in disfavour of liberalism. . . . I believe that we are sent here to educate ourselves and that self-denial and disappointment and self-controul are a part of our education -- that it is not by taking away all restraining law that our improvement is to be achieved.'

42 George Levine, introduction Levine and Knoepflmacher (eds ), Endurance, 6. Related discussion of Mary Shelley and 'reality' is found in Laurie Langbauer, 'Swayed by Contraries: Mary Shelley and the Everyday', in Audrey A. Fisch, Anne K. Mellor, and Esther H. Schor (eds.), The Other Mary Shelley: Beyond 'Frankenstein' (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 185-203, for more general accounts of women and everyday experience, see Margaret Homans, Bearing the Word: Language and Female Experience in Nineteenth-Century Women's Writing (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), Dorothy E. Smith, Everyday Life as Problematic: A Feminist Sociology (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1987), and Bettina Aptheker, Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness, and the Meaning of Daily Experience (Amherst, Mass.: University of Massachusetts Press, 1989).

43 Mellor, Mary Shelley, 55.

44 This behaviour is partly conjectured or inferred, and raises questions of biographical tact, questions eloquently voiced by Percy: 'I never will be a party in making my private affairs or those of others topics of general discussion. Who can know them but the actors? And if they have erred, or often when they have not erred, is there not pain enough to punish them?' (Percy Bysshe Shelley to Leigh Hunt, letter of (?) 20 Dec. 1820, The Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Frederick L. Jones, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), ii. 66). This was hardly Mary Shelley's view. For all her ladylike horror of 'improper' forwardness, Mary approved autobiography, self-reference in art, biographical speculation. Like Keats she admired writers who explore the 'dark passages' of the human heart -- that is of their own hearts (Keats is thinking primarily of Wordsworth) (John Keats to John Hamilton Reynolds, 3 May 1818, in The Letters of John Keats, ed. Hyder Rollins, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958), i. 281; Keats identifies Wordsworth as the modern poet for whom the human heart is 'the main region of his song'). Though, at times, 'the intrusion of self in a work of art' is to be deplored (as in Madame de Genlis's memoirs, which 'are one large capital I from beginning to end' (Mary Shelley to Jane Williams Hogg, 20 June 1828, Letters, ed. Bennett, ii. 48)), 'well-managed, there are few subjects. . . that excite stronger interest or elicit more beautiful lines'. The habit 'of self-analysation and display . . . has caused many men of genius to undertake works where the individual feeling of the author embues the whole subject with a peculiar hue. . . . Such persons turn to the human heart as the undiscovered country. They visit and revisit their own, endeavour to understand its workings, to fathom its depths, and to leave no lurking thought or disguised feeling.' Mary Shelley admires such persons, listing as favourites Burton, Sterne, Montaigne, Rousseau, Boswell, and her own parents. (In the essay 'Giovanni Villani', first printed in The Liberal, 4 (1823), repr. in The Mary Shelley Reader, ed. Bennett and Robinson, 331-2.)

45 Journals, ed. Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, i. 65-6.

46 Ibid. 67-8.

47 Ibid. 66.

48 Ibid. 69.

49 See Letters, ed. Bennett, i. 6 for Mary's letter to Thomas Jefferson Hogg, also for Bennett's footnote summarizing their relations and Cameron's account of the relations of Claire and Percy.

50 See Journals, ed. Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, i. 66 n.

51 As Moers notes, 'there is nothing in the journal about domestic help or a nurse in attendance' ('Female Gothic', in Levine and Knoepflmacher (eds.), Endurance, 82).

52 Entry of 13 Mar. 1815 in Journals, ed. Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, i. 69. Keats, too, provides evidence of the prophylactic effects of reading. According to Walter Jackson Bate, John Keats (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966), 27, 'the time at which Keats began to read so eagerly (during the last three terms he was at school, as Clarke [John Clarke, whose school it was] said) would start almost exactly after the death of his mother in March 1810. Unquestionably this final loss, coming after others, had much to do with his sustained commitment to study, to reading.'

53 Journals, ed. Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, i. 70.

54 Blumberg, Mary Shelley's Early Novels, 54.

55 Frankenstein, ed. Butler, p. xiii.

56 Mary Shelley may also have associated Percy Shelley with the death of their second daughter, Clara, whose health was endangered by a long carriage journey undertaken at Percy's urging -- just the sort of carriage journey that had endangered the life of Percy Shelley's first daughter, Ianthe (See William Veeder, Mary Shelley and Frankenstein: The Fate of Androgyny (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 13).

57 Mary Shelley to Jane Williams, c.2 July 1813, in Letters, ed. Bennett, i. 343.

58 See Sunstein, Romance and Reality, 34.

59 As Wendy Lesser acutely notes, in the introduction to her Everyman edn. of Frankenstein, p. xvi, to write Frankenstein was for Mary Shelley 'an act of enormous hubris and a submission to forces beyond the author's control, "I busied myself to think of a story," she tells us in the preface; "I had thought of a story," she says after her crucial dream. But in between these two comments, in which her italics wilfully stress the element of will, Mary Shelley describes to us the dream origins of her story, the circumstances whereby her "imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me"'.

60 Mellor, Mary Shelley, 80.

61 Mary Shelley to Maria Gisborne, 30 June 1821, in Letters, ed. Bennett, i. 203.

62 Mary Shelley to Sir Walter Scott, 14 June 1818, ibid. 71.

63 Mary Shelley to John Cam Hobhouse, 10 Nov. 1824, ibid. 455.

64 See the introduction to Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, ed. Hindle, p. viii. The dedication was dropped in the 1831 edn.

65 See Moers, 'Female Gothic', 79-87.

66 Such kindly fathers are exceptions to be contrasted with 'a series of forbidding fathers -- the father whose "dying injunction" forbade Walton to embark on a sea-faring life; Henry Clerval's father, who insists that his son be a merchant rather than a poet; the "inexorable" Russian father who tries to force his daughter into a union she abhors; the treacherous Turkish father who uses Safie to obtain his freedom yet issues the "tyrannical mandate" that she betray Felix' (Knoepflmacher, 'Thoughts on the Betrayal of Daughters', in Levine and Knoepflmacher (eds.), Endurance, 104).

67 Entry of 21 Aug. 1816, Journals, ed. Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, i. 13O.

68 The origins of the novel, moreover, ought not to be forgotten. The ghost story competition at the Villa Diodati, in Marilyn Butler's words, was 'genuinely collaborative in that the four stories or versions of stories we have (to include both those attributed to Polidori) represent variations on the same two themes. One is the punishment ironically but justly visited on the protagonist for his or her transgression, another the idea that the Eastern European or Near-Eastern figure of the vampire is especially the bearer of such a punishment' (Frankenstein, ed. Butler, p. xxiii).

69 Blumberg, Mary Shelley's Early Novels, 206.

70 Ibid. 209.

71 Ibid. 214.

72 Letters of Mary Shelley to Lord Byron, 21 Oct. 1812, John Edward Trelawny, Apr. 1823, and Lord Byron, 16 Nov. 1822, in Letters, ed. Bennett, i. 283, 326, 188. Paul A. Cantor, in 'Mary Shelley and the Taming of the Byronic Hero: "Transformation" and The Deformed Transformed,' in Fisch, Mellor, and Schor (eds.), The Other Mary Shelley, 89, thinks Mary Shelley's short story 'Transformation', published in 1830 in The Keepsake annual, 'clearly constitutes a rewriting' of Byron's The Deformed Transformed.

73 Mary Shelley to Edward John Trelawny, 27 Dec. 1830, Letters, ed. Bennett, ii. 120. William St Clair restores the expurgated passages in his edn. of Trelawny's Adventures of a Younger Son (London: Oxford University Press, 1974). The most notable of the missing episodes concerns a visit to a brothel in India. In addition to the collaborations with Trelawny and Byron, two other instances are worth mentioning: The History of a Six Weeks' Tour, which was published in 1817 by T. Hookham and the Olliers, could be considered a joint creation, since it contains a journal to which both Percy and Mary contributed, four descriptive letters (two by each), as well as 'Mont Blanc'; and Mary Shelley's own Journals, which, as Mary Jean Corbett points out in 'Reading Mary Shelley's Journals: Romantic Subjectivity and Feminist Criticism', in Fisch, Mellor, and Schor (eds.), The Other Mary Shelley, 78, was originally conceived as a 'co-production' with Percy.

74 Moers, 'Female Gothic', 81.

75 Mellor, Mary Shelley, 66.

76 Percy Shelley to Lackington, Allen, & Co., 22 Aug. and 23 Oct.. 1817, in Letters, ed. Jones, i. 553, 565.

77 Mary Shelley to Percy Shelley, 24 Sept. 1817, in Letters, ed. Bennett, i. 42.

78 Mary Shelley to Leigh Hunt, ibid. 53.

79 Quoted in Sunstein, Romance and Reality, 94.

80 Ibid. 113.

81 Carson, 'Bringing the Author Forward: Frankenstein through Mary Shelley's Letters', 450.

82 Toril Moi, Textual/Sexual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory (London: Methuen, 1985), 8.

83 The quotation is from Sunstein, Romance and Reality, 127; the remark about emendation from E. B. Murray 'Shelley's Contribution to Mary's Frankenstein', in Keats-Shelley Memorial Bulletin, 29 (1978), 51 n.

84 Quoted in Elizabeth Nitchie, Mary Shelley: Author of Frankenstein (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 214 n.

85 Percy Shelley to Mary Jane Godwin, 29 May 1822, in Letters, ed. Jones, ii. 428.

86 Feb. 1823, quoted in C. Kegan Paul, William Godwin: Friends and Contemporaries, 2 vols. (London: Henry S. King, 1876), ii. 277.

87 Mary Shelley to Maria Gisborne, 3 May (6 May) 1823, in Letters, ed. Bennett, i. 336.

88 Percy Shelley to Mary Jane Godwin, 29 May 1822, in Letters, ed. Jones, ii. 428.

89 Letters, ed. Bennett, ii. p. xvii. Bennett's view is seconded by Susan J. Wolfson in 'Editorial Privilege: Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley's Audiences', in Fisch, Mellor, and Schor (eds.), The Other Mary Shelley, 49, in which Mary's editorial labours are said to amount at times to 'co-creation'.

90 Mary Shelley to Thomas Jefferson Hogg, 11 Feb. 1839 in Letters, ed. Bennett ii. 309. As Blumberg reminds us, that the poem 'was never intended for the general public was well known. PBS apparently told Shelley, when news of the pirated 1821 edition reached the couple in Italy, that he preferred the poem in its unauthorized form; without the dedication to Harriet and with some of the more shocking passages removed' (Early Novels, 165). There was a prudent or practical side to Mary Shelley's suppression in her edition. With the notes, Queen Mab was still liable to prosecution, although not likely to be prosecuted. When these notes were restored, in the next edition, a prosecution was brought simply to prove the liability.

91 Entry of 12 Feb. 1839, in Journals, ed. Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, ii. 560.

92 Mary Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 6 Oct. 1839, in Letters, ed. Bennett, ii. 326.

93 Entry of 12 Feb. 1839, in Journals, ed. Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, ii. 561.

94 Mary Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 12 Dec. 1838, in Letters, ed. Bennett, ii. 304.

95 Shelley, Poetical Works, ed. Mary Shelley, 40.

96 P. D. Fleck, 'Mary Shelley's Notes to Shelley's Poems and Frankenstein', Studies in Romanticism, 6/4 (1967), 227-8. Charles H. Taylor, Jr., in 'The Errata Leaf to Shelley's Posthumous Poems and Some Surprising Relationships Between the Earliest Collected Editions', PMLA, 70 June 1955), agrees: many of Mary Shelley's misreadings exist for no more sinister reason than that 'she failed to notice them' (p. 416). Similarly, Letters, ed. Bennett, ii. p. xvii, thinks Mary Shelley's 'editorial principles, stated or implied, stand up well even by modern standards'. For a contrary or critical modern view see Joseph Raben, 'Shelley's "Invocation to Misery": An Expanded Text', Journal of English and German Philology, 65 (1966), 65-74. As Blumberg points out, it is in her notes to Percy Shelley's Essays, Letters from Abroad and Fragments that Mary Shelley's praise not only 'becomes extravagant and her image of him as an ethereal being the most vivid', but that 'she highlights the "Christian" features of his work' (Mary Shelley's Early Novels, 181, 182).

97 Poetical Works, ed. Mary Shelley, 278-9.

98 Marilyn Butler, Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 50-1.

99 Murray, 'Shelley's Contribution to Mary's Frankenstein', 67.

100 Mellor, Mary Shelley, 58.

101 Ibid. 60.

102 George Levine, quoted ibid. 60.

103 Ibid. 62.

104 George Levine, in the preface to Endurance, p. xiii.

105 For an account of the differences between the 1818 and 1831 revisions see Frankenstein, ed. Rieger, 230-59. The larger narrative changes made in the 1831 edn. are three in number: the presentation of Eiizabeth as unrelated to Frankenstein, the dissociation of Frankenstein's father from science, and the decision to have Frankenstein journey alone to Chamounix. Each of these changes can be seen as an improvement, as in David Ketterer's Frankenstein's Creation: The Book, The Monster, and Human Reality, English Studies Monograph Series, 16 (Victoria, BC: University of Victoria Press, 1979), 110. Frankenstein, ed. Marilyn Butler, on the other hand, sees the changes as more significant, especially those involving Frankenstein's character. In 1831 Frankenstein 'is partly absolved from blame for his early errors . . . yet also reproaches himself more than in the first version' (p. 199); also, his links with materialist science are played down, and he's given 'an explicitly religious consciousness' (p. 200).

106 Frankenstein, ed. Smith, 273.

107 Mellor, Mary Shelley, 62.

108 Ibid. 63.

109 Mary Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 6 Apr. 1819, in Letters, ed. Bennett, i. 91.

110 Mellor, Mary Shelley, 63.

111 Ibid.

112 Ibid. 69.

113 Ibid. 67.

114 Ibid. 68.

115 Quoted in Spark, Mary Shelley, 21.

116 Mellor, Mary Shelley, 64.

117 Mary Shelley to Fanny Imlay, 1 June 1816, Letters, ed. Bennett, i. 21.

118 Carson, 'Bringing the Author Forward: Frankenstein through Mary Shelley's Letters', 449.