Mary Shelley: Author of "Frankenstein"

By Elizabeth Nitchie | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER
5
Albé and the Pirate

In spite of a little turn for irony, sporadically directed at her characters or her friends or herself, Mary Shelley was a romantic. In her actions, in her enthusiasms, and especially in her choice and treatment of subject and character in her writings, she showed her preference for those exotic and emotional elements that marked the literary movement of her time. As a novelist, therefore, she naturally appropriated to her own use the two men in her circle of friends who best fitted the romantic pattern, Lord Byron and Edward John Trelawny. Although close acquaintance dulled their glamor, she never forgot the exciting charm of these two giovanni stravaganti as she first knew them. Individually or fused into one character they appear in her fiction, rebellious, violent, and moody, fascinating to women, tender toward children, communing with thunderstorm and tempestuous ocean, fighting for the cause of liberty. They made admirable heroes for her romantic stories.

Mary greatly admired Byron's Cain ("almost a revelation, from its power and beauty"1) and Don Juan ("the last Cantos . . . want the deep and passionate feeling of the

____________________
1
Letters, I, 150, to Mrs. Gisborne, November 30, 1821.

-107-

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