Iconoclastic Departures: Mary Shelley After Frankenstein : Essays in Honor of the Bicentenary of Mary Shelley's Birth
Syndy M. Conger, Frederick S. Frank, Gregory O'Dea
Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1997 - Fiction - 362 pages
Iconoclastic Departures contributes to the ongoing reevaluation of Mary Shelley as a professional author in her own right with a lifelong commitment to the development of her craft. Many of its essays acknowledge the importance of her family to her work - the steady theme of much earlier scholarship - but for them the family has become an imperative socio-psychological context within which to better understand her innovations in the many literary forms she worked with during her career: journals, letters, travelogues, biographies, poems, dramas, tales, and novels. The book's essays also convey the conviction that even if Mary Shelley, after Percy Shelley's death, gradually retired from public life as his relatives wished, she retained a resiliently resistant attitude toward many of the established orders of her day, easily recovered by a careful look beyond her "feelings" to the productions of her literary "imagination." The Mary Shelley who inhabits this three-part collection of portraits is a radical, even if a quiet radical. Part 1 focuses on various moments in her construction of her authorial identity; parts 2 and 3 anatomize the nature of her resistance and her innovation. She is presented as a writer who reappropriates authority for herself, who redesigns genres, who redefines gender, who rewrites history and biography, who revises her readers' aesthetic expectations, and who protests cultural imperialism at home and abroad. It seems significant to the contributors to this volume that this new, radical Mary Shelley was not invented by a pointed call for papers but emerged spontaneously from an open invitation to scholars working in various corners of the English-speaking world.
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