Contents Index

the strange system of human society

However unthreatening such language may sound today, in 1818, with England racked by unrest and governed by reactionaries, these were what we might today call fighting words. They certainly signaled the anonymous author's radical sympathies to readers -- and reviewers. This is the point in the novel where discerning readers, not knowing who the author was, would comprehend the significance of the dedication to William Godwin, whose Enquiry concerning Political Justice of 1793 remained the most radical analysis of "the strange system of human society" for the generation of his daughter. This work, presented here in its original form, rather than the more tempered redaction of 1798, when the extreme antiestablishment perspective of the original might have been taken for treason, in many respects underlies the Creature's sense of alienation, his understanding of the structured injustice that allows him no place in human society, and his recognition of endemic restraints upon individual self-fulfillment.