Cover

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Half Title, Frontispiece, Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vi-vii

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Foreword: Empire of the Imagination Women and Speculative Fiction

Jonathan Kearns

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pp. ix-xiv

Human memory is a funny thing. You think you remember in quantum detail the first date with someone you subsequently fell in love with, or where you were and what you were doing on 9/11, or when President Obama won his second term. Investigation, which is something we rarely perform, will in all likelihood prove otherwise; that your remembered life was different, ...

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Preface: Stitched and Bound by Love and Fear: Books, Monsters, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Rebecca Baumann

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pp. xv-xx

All books are monsters. They are created things, sewn together by their authors from ideas, memories, and—most importantly—fragments and half-digested scraps of other books. Then they are printed, stitched and bound, sent out into the world to inspire love or cause fear. They do not always obey their creators. They can be dangerous. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xxi-xxiv

Exhibitions are always collaborative efforts, and many people have helped stitch this one together.
I would like to thank, first and foremost, Lilly Library Director and Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts Joel Silver for his support on every level of this exhibition and for teaching me most of what I know about rare books. ...

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Case 1: Mary Shelley and the Birth of Frankenstein

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pp. 3-28

Mary Shelley (1797–1851) writes at a white-hot heat when she leads her readers breathlessly through the scene of Victor Frankenstein’s creation of a monster. Like Victor, she may have been trembling with her eyeballs starting from their sockets as she committed to page—and thus to life—a being whose very existence was blasphemous. Unlike Victor, she was not a privileged male ...

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Case 2: Mary and Percy

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pp. 29-34

These sentiments, expressed by Victor Frankenstein as he tells his tale to Robert Walton, seem like a straightforward plea to balance a masculine, imperial, conquering, destructive thirst for knowledge with more feminine domesticity. Many critics have demonstrated parallels between the character of Victor and Percy Shelley; both were obsessed with science and knowledge, ...

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Case 3: Mary Beyond Frankenstein

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pp. 35-40

Mary was forever known by the name of her most famous creation. On every work she published in her lifetime, she was identified as “the author of Frankenstein”—often with no other attribution. After her death, well into the twentieth century, her name often appeared as only “Mrs. Shelley.” ....

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Case 4: Mary’s Father, William Godwin

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pp. 41-47

Mary Shelley might have almost seemed to some of her contemporaries to be so strange as to be a new species, and the words she puts in the mouth of Victor Frankenstein as he fantasizes about violating the boundary between life and death could well have been inspired by her own father, William Godwin, to whom Frankenstein is dedicated and whose great intellect ...

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Case 5: Mary’s Mother, Mary Wollstonecraft

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pp. 48-55

Mary Wollstonecraft died because the doctor who attended to her afterbirth did not wash his hands. Ten days after her undersized and weak baby was born, Wollstonecraft succumbed to puerperal fever. That something so utterly stupid (to our modern minds) as poor hygiene could kill a woman whose intellect was nothing short of titanic and deprive history ...

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Case 6: Mad Science

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pp. 56-64

Arguably the most popular reading of Frankenstein today—and indeed throughout most of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—is as a dire warning against the dangers of science. Its fundamental question, these readings assert, is: “Just because we can do something, should we?” In this regard, ...

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Case 7: The Gothic

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pp. 65-75

Ask someone today to explain “the Gothic,” and they might tell you to talk to the teenage girl with black nail polish and Robert Smith hair shopping for striped tights in Hot Topic. Today’s Gothic (or Goth) subculture—robustly represented in music, film, television, literature, and fashion—can be traced back to a literary and publishing phenomenon that began in the 1760s. ...

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Case 8: The Monster’s Books

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pp. 76-81

For people who have only encountered Frankenstein’s monster through films, the greatest surprise when reading the novel for the first time is usually that the monster is not an inarticulate, shambling brute but highly intelligent, educated, and well spoken. The monster as Mary Shelley created him is a literate being, fully able to express his anguish. ...

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Case 9: Victor Frankenstein’s Books

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pp. 82-85

Just as the monster is shaped by his reading, so Victor is shaped by his. While Elizabeth “busied herself with following the aerial creations of the poets” and Henry Clerval “read [deeply] in books of chivalry and romance,” young Victor becomes an eighteenth-century disciple of Renaissance alchemists such as Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, and Albertus Magnus. ...

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Case 10: Frankenstein in Popular Culture

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pp. 86-109

How many characters from nineteenth-century novels have been transformed into mascots for children’s cereal? The answer to that question is two—Frankenstein and Dracula, who became Franken Berry and Count Chocula, introduced in 1971 by General Mills to shill sugar-laden puffs of breakfast delight. One might ask—with good reason—how? How could the Milton-quoting, ...

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Case 11: The Undead

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pp. 110-115

Frankenstein’s monster and the vampire are close cousins; they are both “undead” in different ways, and the modern version of the vampire was born on the same stormy night as Mary Shelley’s monster. Their evolutionary paths through popular culture, however, have led these cousins in very different directions. While the most iconic iteration of the Frankenstein monster is a groaning brute, ...

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Case 12: Artificial Life

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pp. 116-121

The above passage is spoken by Victor Frankenstein to his new friend Robert Walton and has been taken throughout the novel’s long history of interpretation as a clear-cut statement about the dangers of science and technology. The same line is spoken again in the 2017 film Alien: Covenant, the sixth film in the franchise that began with James Cameron’s 1979 Alien, ...

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Case 13: Adapting Frankenstein

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pp. 122-125

The above quote is a curious addition to the 1831 revised edition of Frankenstein. Oddly enough, Victor/Mary’s tale had by this time been announced publicly, not only for the literate public but also for the “vulgar” masses. Shelley’s inclusion of the word “presumption” is a nod to the play that did it ...

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Case 14: Illustrating Frankenstein

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pp. 126-128

Mary Shelley describes her monster in great detail. It does not seem like a challenge to illustrate: yellow skin, black flowing hair, and just generally . . . awful. He is referred to as “deformed” and “hideous” a number of times in the text. And yet the monster has been somewhat elusive to illustrators. The only illustrated edition of the nineteenth century was the 1831 third edition ...

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Case 15: Outsiders and Others

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pp. 129-136

Mary Shelley was an outsider. So, each in different ways, were Percy Shelley, Claire Clairmont, Lord Byron, and John Polidori. They chaffed against the sexual and moral constraints of their time. They wrote fiercely radical poetry. They were considered whores and anarchists, rebels and villains—mad, bad, and dangerous to know. Over the centuries, they have all gained some ...

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Case 16: More Monsters

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pp. 137-144

The century that followed the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein teemed, bounded, exploded with monsters. And what was so remarkable was that so many of these were new monsters. Yes, ghosts, vampires, and other folkloric figures proliferated—often transformed and reimagined in startling ways—but it was also a notably fertile time for the creation of monsters not previously imagined in literature. ...

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Case 17 & Case 18: Weird Women

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pp. 145-166

One of the most fascinating characters of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the one who does not exist at all: the female monster, the unmade mate. What would she have been like? Would she have fulfilled the demands of the monster, going with him to the jungles of South America to live a harmless life of peaceful vegetarianism? Would she have, as Victor predicted, ...

Bibliography

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pp. 167-169

About the Author

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