Also, I think what I hate the most about the common trend to state MARY SHELLEY INVENTED A WHOLE NEW GENRE rather than to explore how Mary Shelley re-invented/re-imagined/refreshed an already existing genre is that it alienates Mary from the existing Gothic that she was actively engaging in a metaphysical discourse and in some essence dismisses her ability to communicate with it. It’s the same as the common critical approach as to say how Frankenstein is deliberately antagonistic to Romanticism when the fact of the matter is that Mary was extremely Romantic and possibly the most integral and dedicated person in her generation’s core group to formulating an identity of exactly what that was and meant.
Mary Shelley wasn’t an anomaly. Mary Shelley wasn’t new. Mary Shelley was working with old concepts and old material and the very same language and constructs as all the old white men philosophers and intellectuals of her community. Why are we still so reluctant to place Mary as a part of that group and to call her a Romantic or a Gothic writer??? Why are we still embarrassed to admit that Mary Shelley was doing this thing? Why are we segregating a unique teenage girl prodigy shaped space to ogle at from a safe distance sanitized and distant from her boyfriend-then-husband, their community, her father, his male contemporaries and even John Milton whose very words are turned upside down and inside out throughout her magnum opus slam dunk???
This isn’t exactly the same gripe but I think it’s part and parcel of the same general problematic trend in commentary: the way the fact she was a teenage girl is used to legitimise teenage girls as being connected to “proper” horror and therefore worthy of more respect than when they were considered to be into “teen girl” horror.
jkrockin and I and some friends were talking about this on the weekend — it is such a teenage girl book. The way to learn how to be human in it is to read books that are deep and sad, and then to feel deep and sad about them! Everybody has Feelings all over the place!
Why can’t we contextualise her as belonging to all kinds of traditions and groups in the work she created? Part of it is, I think, that women are always divorced from their contexts as a way to depoliticise. Rosa Parks just wanted a seat on the bus. Anne Frank was just a kid with a diary. Frida Kahlo just painted self portraits. Helen Keller was just a little girl learning to sign ‘water’ at the pump. Malala Yousafzai was just a kid who wanted to learn stuff.
Women, especially young women, always have their hard work reduced to spontaneous eruptions of instinct, rather than their considered and methodical words and actions be taken as the work of brilliant, thoughtful minds.