Mary Shelley: Author of "Frankenstein"

By Elizabeth Nitchie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
8
The Author: No Idle
Acclivity

Godwin once assured Mary that it was laziness that made her feel that she could succeed more quickly with a play than with a novel. "But as there is no royal road to geometry, so there is no idle and self-indulgent acclivity that leads to literary eminence."1 Idle and self-indulgent Mary never was. Struggling with poor health and low spirits after her return to England, she kept doggedly at her writing, sometimes with enjoyment but oftener, as time went on, with a sense of necessity and pressure. As she wrote to Trelawny, she knew "too well that that excitement [of writing] is the parent of pain rather than pleasure."2 And soon the pain lost its creative thrill and subsided into the dull ache of a burden to be borne, a driving task to be accomplished. "I am sorry," wrote Mrs. cccccccc Mason to her in 1836, "that you are obliged to write, for nothing can render that sort of occupation agreeable, except its being voluntary."3 It was one

____________________
1
. Shelley and Mary, IV, 1016A-1016C.
2
. Letters, II, 18.
3
. Shelley and Mary, IV, 1079.

-165-

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