8th of May
The timetable seems seriously awry at this point. Henry Clerval was
murdered in late August. Victor's subsequent breakdown forced a two-month
delay during which his father was summoned, and the trial seems to have
transpired about a month after Alphonse Frankenstein's arrival. This
would put it in the December following the summer's removal to the
Islands. Victor's release from prison ensued in a fortnight (3.4.10), and he records that thereafter he
and his father left Ireland as
speedily as they could (3.4.11). Thus, the arrival in Paris
should come some four months earlier than Elizabeth's letter makes it.
This error is attenuated in the first edition, we may remember, by a
similar lapse of time in the trip to England, where, though it appears
that Victor and Henry begin their trip down the Rhine in early September,
they are not reported as having crossed the channel until the "latter days
of December" (3.1.9).
Scrutiny of the surviving manuscripts suggests that Mary Shelley had her
chronology straight the first time around and for some reason changed her
mind and then, again, subsequently compounded the confusion. In the draft
she originally had Victor and his father arrive in Le Havre on the "8th of
Feb." and dated Elizabeth's letter from Geneva "February 18th;" then in
each case she crossed out the month, substituting "May." In the fair copy
intended for the printer, Elizabeth's letter was first dated "April," but
this designation was cancelled and replaced with "May 18th."