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3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  498 ratings  ·  77 reviews
Renewed interest in the life and works of Mary Shelley has in recent years generated new biographical studies, complete editions of her letters, short stories, and journals, and fresh critical assessments of Frankenstein and her other fiction. This book offers a new text of her novella Mathilda - an extraordinary tale of incest, guilt and atonement that was not published u ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 159 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Thorndike Press (first published 1819)
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"Dearest Father, I have written another novel. Will you publish it?"
"Certainly, my darling Mary! What is it this time? More doomed scientists and their hideous creations? Ghosts and ghouls and other beasties?"
"Oh, no, not at all! It is the story of a young girl and her father--"
"Oh, how lovely--"
"--and his unnatural, twisted, incestuous love for her."
"Get out."
Read my full review here:

This may be one of the most Romantic books I've ever read. Romantic with a big R, not a little one. It's so packed full of feelings, melodramatic dialogues, and rainy moors, you'll be convinced Lord Byron is standing directly behind you.

In Mathilda, the title character narrates from her deathbed the tragic story of her life. Having lost her mother at birth, her father leaves her in the care of a cold aunt and
Mary Shelley is exceedingly famous as the author of Frankenstein, but this work isn't known at all and wasn't even published until 1959. With good reason. (view spoiler) ...more
Jori Richardson
Oh, Shelley. First a story about a lonely, half-dead monster, and now a tale of incestuous romance.

I was very intrigued about the novella "Mathilda." I had heard of before, as "that other Shelley book," but somehow the knowledge of what it was about managed to never reach me until a few days ago.

For those who also do not know the story, this is about a girl who is indeed named Mathilda. Her mother tragically died in childbirth, inspiring her passionate father to flee in grief to the ends of the
Ah, poor Mary Shelley. I’m thinking she has this charmed life – daughter of two talented intellectuals, married to a gorgeous poet husband, herself a writer of what turns out to be one of the most famous books of all time, Frankenstein.

Then I find out that she wrote a little novella, Mathilda, that so shocked and outraged her father (also her publisher) with its subject of father-daughter incest that it was first published in 1959 – over 150 years after it was written. While some read it as auto
Grace Harwood
I've just finished re-reading Frankenstein and it reminded me how much I love the work of Mary Shelley, hence moving on to this small novella. The first part of this book is definitely stronger than the latter half which is a bit fragmented and not terribly polished in my opinion. The first part is just wonderful though - melodramatic, tragic and with all the obsession of the self which marks the typical Romantics of the period. The story commences on a blasted heath, where damaged soul Mathilda ...more
Written in 1819-20, and published posthumously, this novella recounts a father's attraction to his daughter, confession, and suicide. Wavering between a proto- psychological case study, on the one hand, and a high Romantic tale, on the other, Mathilda probes "the diseased yet incomprehensible state of [an incestuous father's:] mind" (165).

The first-person story is narrated by Mathilda (the daughter) who announces in the second paragraph, "I know that I am about to die." Writing this, she continu
This was just absoultely gorgeous. Everytime I read anything by Mary Shelley I just want to read everything she ever wrote, whether it was fiction or non-fiction. This was a very gothic tragic tale of a young girl doomed to death. The tale itself is interesting and tragic. The style of the writing is just beautiful. There are some of the most beautiful and moving passages about depression and suicide that I've ever read. Clearly Mary Shelley understood these things very well and while the plot o ...more
Though I started "The Last Man" several years ago, this is the first Shelley writing that I've finished since completing both editions of "Frankenstein."

I'm working my way now through her complete works since reading Miranda Seymour's biography on this most extraordinary of authors.

"Mathilda" is not an easy read, despite its relatively brief length. It is heavy on first-person narration and detail, really heavy on emotion and sentiment almost to the point of melodrama (except for descriptions of
Janina Flores
Mathilda es una novela corta de Mary Shelley que no vio la luz hasta ciento cincuenta años después de la muerte de su autora. En la historia se debaten varios temas prohibidos; la muerte, el suicidio, la pena y el incesto, que plagan a la protagonista de la obra.

Similar a como se desenvuelve "Frankenstein", Mathilda se cuenta a modo de novela autobiográfica donde en su lecho de muerte la protagonista revive los hechos incluso antes de su nacimiento. En la primera parte, relata un poco de la vida
Portia S
Eloquently written tale of a young girl who has sparked the feelings of romance within her father's heart after he sees her for the first time in fifteen years since the death of her mother in childbirth.


This is a very controversial book, and was published more than a hundred years after Shelley's death. It is written with a sad and lonely heart whose hopes for family comes and goes with glimmers of it coming to pass but it instead dissolves into something perverse.

The real chilling part of
John Cadaver
"I adjure you, my father, has not an unnatural passion seized upon your heart?"

Shelley deals with the controversial issue of incest, in which the father of the eponymous character, having been an absent parent for sixteen years of his daughter's life, returns to establish a relationship with his child.

This relationship is tainted when he conflates his daughter with her deceased mother, developing unnatural passions steered toward Mathilda. His perverse projection throws her into an abysmal turm
Δεν μπορώ να πω πως η Ματίλντα με συνεπήρε τόσο όσο ο Φρανκενστάιν.

Η ιστορία είχε αρκετό λυρισμό, άλλωστε η μελωδική γλώσσα και το γότθικο, σκοτεινιασμένο ύφος ήταν, κυρίως, ο λόγος που μου άρεσε αυτή η νουβέλα. Παράλληλα, η υπόθεση ήταν αρκετά τολμηρή και, τουλάχιστον για τα δεδομένα εκείνης της εποχής, προκλητική, ωστόσο με άφησε σχετικά αδιάφορη, ενώ ήταν, σε πολλά σημεία, προβλέψιμη, με τάσεις επανάληψης(γλωσσικών εκφράσεων, αλλά και σκέψεων της ηρωίδας), οι οποίες με κούραζαν. Οι χαρακτήρε
Emily Mellow
OK I didn't actually read it much, but enough to know it's pretty freakin' dry and slow. I liked Frankenstein enough to want to check out her other stuff, but please. This is not my style at all. Definitely disappointing as I thought of Shelley as a pretty good writer, even if Dr. Frankenstein was endlessly boring himself.
Such a profound book, everybody can have their own interpretation. In my opinion this book leaves somethin to keep in your mind an in your heart for ever. I remember specially the final, maybe I will read it again. Exactly that's what you don't when you really like a book!
"I am, I thought, a tragedy; [...] [H]e takes all the profit and I bear all the burthen." (Chapter 10)

Very dramatic, a bit too much so for me.
Beautiful writing style.....horrible subject matter. I must stop pushing the "suprise me" button on my audiobook app!
A nice, quick read for anyone who enjoys melodrama, heaths, nature worship, dramatic suicides, and the like.
Oh Mary. First Frankenstein’s monster and now incestuous love.

Mathilda is the name—and story—of a girl who was abandoned by her “passionate” father when he lost his wife. She was left in the care of an iffy aunt who loves Mathilda but expects her to be prim and proper without showering upon her the required amount of attention.

Mathilda’s father returns about when she’s about 16 and takes her home with him. And that’s where things take a turn for the worst.

Most of us who know about this story k
AmberBug **
Shelf Notes Review

Dear Reader,

Did I tell you how much I ADORE Melville House for coming up with a Novella subscription service? Each month, I get two small but colorful volumes dropped at my door! Just the right size, and I get to read some classic lit mixed in with all the other books I happen to be reading. Genius! Want to be included in the fun? Check it out here! The Art of the Novella. So yes, now that I have that out the way... I can tell you ALL about how this first Novella didn't quite s
Emma Mckay
I read this after her masterpiece Frankenstein, and have to say I was a bit disappointed with this one in comparison. I read this for a Gothic literature module and have to say that from a Gothic perspective it was a bit of an anti-climax for me. The first chapter sets us up for this really dreadful story when actually not a lot seems to happen. Of course Mathilda's father has an incestual love for her which is terrible; but this love is never acted upon and so it seems a bit dramatic that she i ...more
Sean O'Hara
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angela Meyer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
More interesting than enjoyable. This novella, written in 1819, is a psychological treatment of the subject of incest told in the first person. Mathilda, a pretty, motherless girl is happily reunited with her wandering father only to find that he has transferred his passion for his dead wife to his daughter. The revelation of his deep feelings leads to his suicide and to her life of guilt, shame and withdrawal from society.

There is much to recommend this brief novel as an insightful portrayal o
Maggie James
'Mathilda' is a hard book to like. It's written as a letter/memoir aimed at an unknown third person, which means there is virtually no dialogue and what there is fails to convince, being long and rambling. The protagonist and her father are self-obsessed individuals, unable to get a grip on their out-of-sync emotions, leading to obsessive preoocupation with their worries. There are numerous oddities with the spelling of various words, even allowing for the fact language evolves over time and som ...more
Catherine Gordon
I hadn't heard anything about this book before reading. Mathilda's mother dies in childbirth and her father leaves her with an unfeeling Aunt consumed with grief only to reenter her life when she is sixteen. From such an inauspicious start things don't get any better. This is a dark book from beginning to end. There is a reason why it isn't well known. Having read it, I wouldn't recommend it.
Sad to say I really disliked this. Dislike is too strong a word, maybe. I found it dull and had very little emotional reaction to it at all. The premise is horrible and intriguing (father falling in love with his daughter), but the book is basically one long first-person narration with very little momentum. Sorry Mary Shelley -- I still love you.
Although I found the plot a but bland the language is absolutely beautiful. It almost felt like I was reading an extended poem layered with those subtle hints that eighteenth century authors were masters of. I can appreciate its not everyone's cup of tea - even for Shelley - but it helped me pass an afternoon at work more pleasurably.
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Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, often known as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley) was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, travel writer, and editor of the works of her husband, Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. She was the daughter of the political philosopher William Godwin and the writer, philosopher, and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft ...more
More about Mary Shelley...
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