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Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  90 ratings  ·  13 reviews
An innovative, beautifully written analysis of Mary Shelley's life and works which draws on unpublished archival material as well as Frankenstein and examines her relationship with her husband and other key personalities.
Paperback, 308 pages
Published December 15th 1989 by Routledge (first published 1988)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  90 ratings  ·  13 reviews


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Paul Bryant
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: litcrit, biography
Hell of a story although there are way too many Marys and Janes and Williams. They were brain-rich but name-poor in those days.

1787 – Mary Wollstonecraft, a well-educated 28 year old woman with no money and no husband, sick & tired of bad gigs as a governess, decides to become a writer. She gets some run of the mill stuff published but she is plotting something big which arrives five years later.

1792 – The first major feminist statement ever, A Vindication of the Righ
...more
Alicia
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
I love the book Frankenstein so wanted to read more about the author and to learn what led her to write such a fascinating book. Unfortunately, I ended up skimming or skipping much of Mellor's book because she focused on feminism, incest, immorality, etc, but I did learn 2 interesting things:

1) 200 years ago, when Mary Shelley wrote about putting together a man out of body parts gathered from animals and cemeteries, then giving him the "spark of life", there were actually many scient
...more
Katherine Addison
This is going to be rather scattershot, since there are several quite distinct issues this book raised for me.

1. The problem with Mellor's literary analysis is that she does not distinguish shades and degrees of meaning with any degree of sophistication or subtlety. Here, the most egregious example (discussing Frankenstein):

Victor most ardently desires his bride when he knows she is dead. The conflation with his earlier dream, when he thought to embrace the living Elizabeth but instead held in hi/>Victor
...more
Thomfrost
Oct 06, 2017 rated it liked it
3/4
Despite being deliberately feminist in its approach, this is one of the most balanced and comprehensive critical work on Mary Shelley I've come across so far. Of particular interest to me were the chapters about her relationship with Godwin, her story with Percy Shelley, and the scientific and philosophical works that influenced her writing. It's not perfect. There's some fuzzy logic in it, and sometimes Mellor's otherwise moderate criticism gives way to sweeping remarks and dubious cla
...more
David Allen
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This enlightening look at Mary Shelley's life and writings from a woman's perspective will make you think of Frankenstein in a fresh way, both textually (disaster occurs when a man tries to have a baby without a woman!) and biographically (is Shelley criticizing her husband's poor parental skills?). Good analysis of the underrated The Last Man too. For scholarship, quite readable. Docked a star for use of "teleological," "semiotics" and "phenomenological."
April
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I probably will not have time to revisit this biography for a very long time, if ever. However, I did want to take a minute to point out that what I did read (for a research paper) was hilarious, well-written, and entertaining. I would recommend this for anyone who wants to get to know Shelley and her works in a deeper way.

I believe Anne Mellor is/was a leading Shelley scholar with feminist leanings, but that is just guesswork based on what my professor told me.

Here are some great quotes from
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Kali
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
i don't think i appreciated/understood frankenstein or mary shelley's life until i heard a lecture by prof. anne k mellor, considered the premier shelley scholar of our time, i believe. she completely blew me away with the simple but revelatory topics she brought up in the lecture: frankenstein as birth story, expressing shelley's anxieties about childhood; frankenstein as story of man trying to reproduce without woman; and so many other creative and interesting ideas. i wrote a final paper on f ...more
Gabrielle
I am officially obsessed with Shelley's "feminist science". This was a really interesting look at the woman who wrote one of my favorite books and gives a great analysis of the cultural factors that contributed the obvious opposition to controlling nature found in the novel.
Michelle
Dec 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book has a lot of useful information on Shelley and on Frankenstein.
Bridgette
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very insightful, especially regarding changes Percy made to Mary's work. I thoroughly enjoyed the section on Feminism.
Alis ,the story traveller
classic!!mary shelley is the queen...sorry..empress of gothic fiction!!
Madly Jane
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1-shelleyana
Good but not great. Miranda Seymour's biography is great, but this does give you and inside in a feminist viewpoint.
Alison
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Jesus Christ, what a fraught and disturbing life Shelley had. Thankfully, she was also brilliant and a writer.
Adella
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Dec 23, 2012
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