Contents Index

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 Orkney 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."