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laundry, frankenstein, and latin

July 28, 2010

While Mary was writing Frankenstein, she was pregnant and had a toddler. She was not married to Shelley so most of England would not speak to her. That fall, her half-sister killed herself and a few months later Shelley’s deserted wife jumped off a bridge. Mary kept writing, though. She studied Latin every day and kept to a rigorous course of reading, including books by Sidney, Milton, and Smollet. Meanwhile, she kept tabs on the feckless Shelley. While he was away in London, fighting for custody of his children by his dead wife, she wrote a friend, asking her to please get his dirty clothes out of his room and have them sent to the laundry. She apologized for asking such a favor, saying, “Mr. Shelley’s thoughtlessness must be my excuse.”

How come she didn’t get to be thoughtless? Why was she worrying about the laundry?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ruth permalink
    July 28, 2010 12:07 pm

    Because along with creating whatever women create, they worry about laundry….and food and homework and friends and, and, and.

  2. July 28, 2010 3:27 pm

    Yeah, it’s as if Mary were multi-tasking intellectually, emotionally and physically. Did she have any choice if she wanted to stay alive and pursue her goals?

    I was thinking about what you wrote Charlotte a few posts back about feeling free to be yourself away from your usual surroundings. I wonder if being in Geneva helped Mary?

  3. July 29, 2010 4:31 pm

    At the risk of sounding obnoxious, I think that perhaps one reason she was worrying about the laundry was that it kept her from having to concentrate on the fact that she was a second-rate novelist married to a poetic genius.

    Shelley was a jerk and a bad husband. But “Frankenstein” and “Ode to the West Wind” are in no way comparable as works of art.

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