Cover image for Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley : an introduction
Title:
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley : an introduction
Author:
Bennett, Betty T.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
xiii, 177 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"A revision and expansion of the introduction to The novels and selected works of Mary Shelley, published in 1996 by Pickering and Chatto"--T.p. verso.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780801859755

9780801859762
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"Recognition of Mary Shelley's systemic dual focus on public and domestic power as the means to interrogate traditional norms and propose alternatives materially alters parochial perceptions of her objectives and her achievements. Her novels, outside of Frankenstein, and recently, The Last Man, have been dismissed as simple, mutual dissociated "romances" or experiments in genre solely to intersect with a market niche; they are neither. Rather, they and all of Mary Shelley's major works voice a cosmopolitan, socio-political reformist ideology that evolved as their author's acute awareness of world events enabled her to calibrate her literary voice to deal with unfolding rather than past societal issues. Her multidisciplinary fusion of literature, political philosophy, and history calls for a commensurate multidisciplinary reading in order to understand the complexities of both the author and her works." -- Betty T. Bennett In this book, Betty T. Bennett offers an extensively expanded version of the introduction she wrote for Pickering and Chatto's eight volume set, The Novels and Selected Works of Mary Shelley. Along with her insightful retelling of Mary Shelley's eventful life story, Bennett gives us a fresh reading of Frankenstein in the context of its author's full career. She also discusses a variety of Mary Shelley's lesser known works, including Matilda, Valperga, The Last Man, Perkin Warbeck, Lodore, Falkner, and her travel books. The result is a compelling portrait of Mary Shelley as she saw herself -- an inventive, irreverent writer whose desire for political and social reform was at the heart of her literary expression for three decades.


Summary

"Recognition of Mary Shelley's systemic dual focus on public and domestic power as the means to interrogate traditional norms and propose alternatives materially alters parochial perceptions of her objectives and her achievements. Her novels, outside of Frankenstein , and recently, The Last Man , have been dismissed as simple, mutual dissociated "romances" or experiments in genre solely to intersect with a market niche; they are neither. Rather, they and all of Mary Shelley's major works voice a cosmopolitan, socio-political reformist ideology that evolved as their author's acute awareness of world events enabled her to calibrate her literary voice to deal with unfolding rather than past societal issues. Her multidisciplinary fusion of literature, political philosophy, and history calls for a commensurate multidisciplinary reading in order to understand the complexities of both the author and her works." --Betty T. Bennett

In this book, Betty T. Bennett offers an extensively expanded version of the introduction she wrote for Pickering and Chatto's eight volume set, The Novels and Selected Works of Mary Shelley . Along with her insightful retelling of Mary Shelley's eventful life story, Bennett gives us a fresh reading of Frankenstein in the context of its author's full career. She also discusses a variety of Mary Shelley's lesser known works, including Matilda , Valperga , The Last Man , Perkin Warbeck , Lodore , Falkner , and her travel books. The result is a compelling portrait of Mary Shelley as she saw herself--an inventive, irreverent writer whose desire for political and social reform was at the heart of her literary expression for three decades.


Author Notes

Betty T. Bennett is Distinguished Professor of Literature at American University, Washington, D.C. Her books include Mary Diana Dods, a Gentleman and a Scholar ; Selected Letters of Mary Shelley ; and, in three volumes, The Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley ; all available from Johns Hopkins.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

"Introduction" is the key word in Bennett's title: the book began as the introduction to Nora Crook's eight-volume edition of Shelley's oeuvre, The Novels and Selected Works of Mary Shelley (CH, Jan'97). It appears here in a revised and expanded version, although since the text fills just 121 small pages of large type, it remains a quick read. With the discussion of each work confined to a few pages, the coverage is necessarily superficial, and nothing will be new to Shelley experts. However, the virtues of a good introduction are not depth and originality but comprehensiveness and clarity, and Bennett, one of Shelley's most learned commentators, provides both. She combines a narrative account of Shelley's life with critical discussions focusing especially on political aspects of her work. Frankenstein and The Last Man understandably get the most thorough treatments, but all the novels and many of the minor works are also discussed. A bibliography and extensive notes refer curious readers to more thorough treatments, and a chronology puts the whole in context. This useful overview is recommended for undergraduate and beginning graduate students. J. T. Lynch; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark


Choice Review

"Introduction" is the key word in Bennett's title: the book began as the introduction to Nora Crook's eight-volume edition of Shelley's oeuvre, The Novels and Selected Works of Mary Shelley (CH, Jan'97). It appears here in a revised and expanded version, although since the text fills just 121 small pages of large type, it remains a quick read. With the discussion of each work confined to a few pages, the coverage is necessarily superficial, and nothing will be new to Shelley experts. However, the virtues of a good introduction are not depth and originality but comprehensiveness and clarity, and Bennett, one of Shelley's most learned commentators, provides both. She combines a narrative account of Shelley's life with critical discussions focusing especially on political aspects of her work. Frankenstein and The Last Man understandably get the most thorough treatments, but all the novels and many of the minor works are also discussed. A bibliography and extensive notes refer curious readers to more thorough treatments, and a chronology puts the whole in context. This useful overview is recommended for undergraduate and beginning graduate students. J. T. Lynch; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark