Iconoclastic Departures: Mary Shelley After Frankenstein : Essays in Honor of the Bicentenary of Mary Shelley's Birth

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Syndy M. Conger, Frederick S. Frank, Gregory O'Dea
Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1997 - Fiction - 362 pages
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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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Contents

III
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IV
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About the author (1997)

Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin on August 30, 1797 in London, the daughter of William Godwin--a radical philosopher and novelist, and Mary Wollstonecraft--a renowned feminist and the author of Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She eloped to France with Shelley in 1814, although they were not married until 1816, after the suicide of his first wife. She began work on Frankenstein in 1816 in Switzerland, while they were staying with Lord Byron, and it was published in 1818 to immediate acclaim. She died in London in 1851.

Carla H. Hay teaches in the Department of History at Marquette University. Syndy M. Conger teaches in the Department of English at Western Illinois University.

FREDERICK S. FRANK is Professor Emeritus of English at Allegheny College. He is the coeditor of The Poe Encyclopedia (1997) and the author of Through the Pale Door: A Guide to and through the American Gothic (1990), both available from Greenwood Press.

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