- Important Recent Scholarship on Frankenstein: A Bibliography of the Last Decade
particularly since the 1960s, there has been a growing effulgence of scholarship on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus and its many adaptations, a good deal of which (since the edition by James Rieger in 1973)1 has argued for—or produced editions of—the original 1818 text of the novel. That text, the one celebrated in this collection just over two hundred years later, is, for many, the most indicative of its author’s vision and worldview at the time, compared to her 1831 third edition (used for most of the twentieth century as the standard text), which changed the novel at key points. These alterations made it less radical for some critics, even as the 1831 version also included an introduction, much quoted since, featuring Shelley’s own memories of her tale’s genesis, beginning with the gathering of Romantic writers at the Villa Diodati near Geneva during the stormy summer of 1816, with Lord Byron as host, that included his challenge to them all to write “ghost stories.” For an excellent review and analysis of all this Frankenstein scholarship, especially the criticism up until the 1990s, I recommend Fred Botting’s book Making Monstrous: Frankenstein, Criticism, Theory (Manchester, 1991), as well as Botting’s selection of the most landmark interpretations through 1994 in the Macmillan New Casebooks collection Frankenstein: Contemporary Critical Essays (Houndmills, U.K., 1995). For the best overviews, listings, and samplings of criticism between the mid-1990s and just a few years ago, see the editions of the novel listed below by J. Paul Hunter (2012, 391–520) and Johanna M. Smith (2016, 267–567). [End Page 829]
This impressive output of scholarship, however, which did include many discoveries, among them early drafts of the novel in The Frankenstein Notebooks (1996), edited by Charles Robinson,2 has turned into a geyser in the decade leading up to the novel’s bicentennial and this subsequent collection. Such recent work takes four main forms—annotated editions, essay collections, monographs, and individual articles or essays—most of them generated for the novel’s bicentennial. I therefore conclude this special issue with an annotated bibliography of the most revealing or innovative efforts concerned with the original Frankenstein published over the last ten to twelve years in each of these four different forms. They illuminate the myriad sources, ideas, and cultural debates, as well as the symbolism and art, that appear in Frankenstein (an extraordinary range for a book written by a brilliant eighteen-to-nineteen-year-old) and the many issues, possibilities, and problems of modernity that the novel anticipates and continues to challenge us about into the twenty-first century.
Going beyond the drafts that he revealed in The Frankenstein Notebooks (New York, 1996) and taking advantage of the Bodleian’s purchase of Shelley family papers in 2004, the late Professor Robinson here prints manuscript versions of the novel, the first as Mary Shelley thought she had completed it in 1817 and the second with P. B. Shelley’s revisions (shown in italics), together much of the basis for the 1818 published text. This version resolves the long-standing question of how much Percy Shelley contributed to Mary Shelley’s novel and what his changes were, adding excellent accounts of the whole composition process and the most pertinent aspects of her life.
This thoroughly linked electronic edition—of both the 1818 and 1831 versions in their entireties, with a collation comparing the two in detail—highlights words in blue on practically every line of text. Clicking on any of these opens up a rich array of notes and links, most of them to historical analogues, literary and mythological sources, definitions of words at Shelley’s time, and editor’s interpretations rooted in connections to other parts of the...