Rousseau, Robespierre, and English Romanticism

By Gregory Dart | Go to book overview

Notes

INTRODUCTION
1
Frankenstein, the 1818 text, ed. by J. Paul Hunter (New York and London: Norton, 1996), p. 30. Further references are given after quotations in the text.
2
There are a number of comparisons between Rousseau and Prometheus in the Romantic writing of the period. For example, in the novel The Wrongs of Woman which Mary's mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, left uncompleted at her death, Rousseau is described by the heroine Maria as 'the true Prometheus of Sentiment'; Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman, in Complete Works, 7 vols., ed. by Janet Todd and Marilyn Butler (London: William Pickering, 1989), I, 96.
3
The account that the Comte de Mirabeau gives of this society in his 'Essay on the Sect of the Illuminati' is highly reminiscent of Shelley's description of the creation of the monster in Frankenstein: 'Formed in the recesses of impenetrable darkness, this society constitutes a new race of beings … Their oaths would realise the sanguinary fable of Atreus, and would cover the whole face of the earth with a nation of assassins. ' This is cited in John Adolphus's Biographical Memoirs of the French Revolution, 2 vols. (London: 1799), II, 484, which was read by both Percy and Mary Shelley between 1810 and 1820.
4
See Lee Sterrenburg, 'Mary Shelley's Monster: Politics and Psyche in Frankenstein', The Endurance of Frankenstein, ed. by George Levine and U. C. Knoepflmacher (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), pp. 143–72; see also Gary Kelly, English Fiction of the Romantic Period, 1789–1832 (London: Longman, 1987), p. 192.
5
See Mary Shelley, Journals, ed. by Paula R. Feldman and Diana ScottKilvert (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), p. 657, 670. Percy Bysshe Shelley, Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. by F. L. Jones (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), pp. 480–95, and N. I. White, Shelley, 2 vols. (London: Secker and Warburg, 1947), appendix VI: reading lists.
6
It was, of course, during the same 'Swiss' summer that the Shelleys' companion Lord Byron composed the third canto of Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage, which contains an account of Rousseau as a 'self-torturing sophist' who was 'enamoured' of an 'ideal beauty' that 'breathed itself to

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