Mary Shelley's Journal


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Mary Wollstonecraft

William Godwin


From the "Journals of Mary Shelley Part 1" :

The following excerpt from Mary Shelley’s journal reminded me of many of the description of landscape within Frankenstein:

“We leave St. Martin on mules at seven o’clock – the road for a league lay through the plain at the end of which we were taken to see the Cascade- the water here falls 250 feet dashing & casting a spray which formed a mist around it… This cataract fell into the Arve which dashed against its banks like a wild animal who is furious in constraint…There is something so divine in all this scenery that you love & admire it even where its features are less magnificent than usual. …

As we mounted still higher this appeared the most beautiful part of our journey- the river foamed far below & the rocks & glaciers towered above-mighty pines filled the vale and sometimes obstructed our view.”  The Journals of Mary Shelley Vol. 1. 114-115, entry is dated July 1816.



Mary Shelley’s Journals

The abundance of interesting material to choose from made this project exciting. One could write a doctorial thesis comparing the information in Mary Shelley’s journal’s to the text of Frankenstein or The Last Man. One of the most fascinating journals contains fragments of both Percy and Mary Shelley’s writings. “The Geneva Journal Fragments” begins in July of 1816 and continues to June 7, 1819. This is a critical period for Frankenstein, as it was during the time it was written and the first year after it was published. The landscape descriptions are nearly identical to those in the text of the novel. Percy and Mary traveled by mule around the Glaciers via mule. Mary describes the Arve and the surrounding area as one of the most beautiful scenes in the world. Victor Frankenstein expresses a similar viewpoint several times in Frankenstein. Additionally, there are description of lightening storms and rain in the journals that are similar to when the Creature first appears to Victor.

Exploring Mary Shelley’s journal, along with the notebooks containing the Frankenstein text, was an enlightening experience. The landscape details are interwoven with her private life in the journals. There is also entire written by Percy, the two provide a glimpse into the woman and writer. The despair Mary felt following the death of her baby is recorded in the journals and is mirrored by Victor in Frankenstein. Both the journal and the notebooks provide evidence to support the web project. The notebooks provide detailed information on characters. The character Safie was not in the original text and had a different name. Originally, Mary Shelley called her “Maimouna” after a friend of Percy’s. Then Mary wrote “Amina,” “X,” and “Y” in the text until she decided upon Safie. All of the information connects to the web project, more specifically the minor character analysis.  RC

Works Cited:

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus. Ed. Susan J. Wolfson. Second. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007.

­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________. The Journals of Mary Shelley Vol. 1. Eds. Paula R. Feldman and Diana Scott-Kilvert. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

_____________. The Frankenstein Notebooks Part 1. Transcription Charles E. Robinson. New York: Garland Publishers, 1996.