My first ever attempt at a blog entry…

Hello everyone, I’m putting it out there right now that I’m not the most creative person in the world or used to this kind of writing, but here we go. This is our first time back in class after break, and over break we read Frankenstein, a book I’m familiar with from my time with Ms. Manganiello in 10th grade English. We didn’t get into Frankenstein right away however, and one of the first things Professor Mueller talked about in class was the screening for an Arthurian film on Tuesday that I sadly could not attend. There was more general discussion about the final project for our class where we select one book and we go in depth about the history of said book, and while I have one book on my mind I’m hesitant on choosing it because it might be dull. After getting all of that out of the way we dove right into the actual work, and compared our transcriptions of Robert Henryson’s “Moralitas”. My partner and I had pretty different takes on our transcriptions, he changed the actual content and made it how he felt it should be while I completely copied Henryson’s words. One interesting thing that he did that I didn’t was change all of the f’s that were supposed to be s’s into s’s, and instead of doing that I just left them as f’s. There was a lot of discussion around the class about the glossing as well, and whether or not some of Henryson’s glossing was necessary and why some of us glossed certain things instead of others. Professor Mueller used the MED as well, and we tried searching for certain words in it, which was actually pretty helpful considering I get absolutely nowhere when I’m trying to search for something on that site. After finishing up with Workshop #2 we transitioned into our first novel, Frankenstein. The first phase of our discussion started with the important characters in the novel, and each student was assigned either Victor Frankenstein, Captain Walton, or the creature. We all found passages within the novel that we thought best represented our assigned character and it was probably my favorite part of the class because Frankenstein and the creature are two of my favorite characters from literature because of their interesting relationship. After that was over with we got into groups and went over our assigned essays that were within the novel, and my group found that our essays were all related in that they talked about nature as being a core topic in the novel. One interesting thing I noticed in my essay was that the reviewer referred to the author of Frankenstein as a “he”, and this just puts some perspective into how Mary Shelley had to go about with the publication of her novel because of the fear of how a female novelist would be received. The final part of class was our next workshop which was focused on the covers of the 1818 and 1831 editions of the novel, and it actually was pretty crazy how much the covers changed in just 13 years. The 1818 edition didn’t have any artwork, and most importantly didn’t even include Mary Shelley’s name on it, and I don’t believe it was on the novel until 1822. The 1831 was more appealing with an actual illustration on it, and it had the aforementioned Shelley’s name being included on the cover. That workshop was also done in partners and after we discussed our observations on the covers we came together and shared all of our thoughts as a class. That was pretty much what happened in class on Monday, and while I’ve never done an assignment like this before, I can definitely say that it wasn’t all that bad.

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6 thoughts on “My first ever attempt at a blog entry…

  1. Thanks for this helpful run-down of the class, Patrick. I’m curious to know whether you all believe, after our class discussion, that the epistolary form of the novel and its multiple narrators reflect anything significant about the material creation and reception of the novel.

    • I believe that the epistolary form of the novel, along with the multiple narrators, reflect that the material creation of the novel itself was of a similar circumstance. Like Victor’s desire to create life, Shelly’s creation of the book stemmed from intellectual conversation with her peers, and was ultimately brought on in the form of a competition (or in Victor’s case: the impossibility of it; a goal to be achieved). So as Mary is telling the tale of Walton, who is telling the tale of Victor, who is telling the tale of his Monster, tells the tale of the couple in the woods, Mary draws a connection to the creation of the monster and the creation of her book, that although it was physically created by one person, it could not have been done without the use of others. What is significant about this is that Shelly almost seems to suggest that books are not an individual’s own content, by rather a cumulative narrative which the author draws from multiple influences.

  2. It’s interesting you say you found the illustration more appealing. I actually really liked the simplicity of the 1818 version. I actually didn’t even mind that her name wasn’t on that page…as long as it was put in somewhere, like on the spine or on another page, that would have been fine with me. I also like the quote from Paradise Lost. I like when authors do that, which is relatively common in contemporary books.

    I had a lot of fun with the glossing. I used the Old Scots dictionary and it was fascinating. It reminded me of the OED, with different contextual uses outlined and such. Much of the poem didn’t need to be glossed and that modernized version we looked at in class over glossed, I thought. It was still helpful to look at that though.

  3. I also really enjoyed the part of class where we all chose passages about the characters in Frankenstein. Hearing everyone’s perspectives on the characters was very interesting because the dynamics between all of the characters are so important to the novel. I thought it was especially interesting to take a closer look at Walton because he is a very intriguing character even if he is not featured in most of the novel. I was one the people assigned to Walton and I was glad that I was because I was eager to investigate his character more deeply myself and also listen to what other people thought about him as well. The discussion of how Frankenstein “edited” Walton’s transcription of Frankenstein’s story was also very noteworthy,

  4. Upon reading my assigned essay for Frankenstein, I was left a bit confused. I was aware that there was something interesting being said about nature acting as a type of character and something being said about authorship but I wasn’t quite sure. It wasn’t until our group with you, me, and Sam, that I realized what my essay was saying. As you mention in your blog post, you noticed your essay referred to the author as “he”, and we all seemed to have essays that mentioned the author as male. It was Sam’s essay that really clarified that aspect of all our essays. Sam’s essay mentioned that maybe Shelley’s husband actually wrote Frankenstein, and that would clarify why our essays were mentioning the author using male pronouns. All of our articles also discussed nature as being a critical character within Frankenstein. Hearing your and Sam’s essays described within our group really helped me to decode what my essay was saying.

  5. I definitely think our group discussion with you, Patrick, and Victoria was useful because all three of our essays seemed to fit together like puzzle pieces as far as each one containing more information about the authorial questions regarding Shelley’s name and gender and the concepts about nature. I think the criticism of the novel was so negative in the beginning because people (especially in that age, but still today) take any “new” ideas surrounding nature or society as dangerous. So if they took Shelley’s point about man being able to create human life as a serious threat to religion, that definitely affects the reception of the novel but not for its literary feats but just for it’s radical ideas. To comment on Alex’s question above: “Do you think the epistolary form of the novel and its multiple narrators reflect anything significant about the material creation and reception of the novel?” I find it interesting after reading about Samuel Richardson’s rise in success from his epistolary novels, that Frankenstein wasn’t granted the same sudden success as Richardson’s novels, Pamela and Clarissa, solely based on form since epistolary was popular. I would guess this is because Richardson wrote morality novels — which readers ate up because they love a good tale about a women’s potential fall or maintenance in morality and chastity (proven when women readers pushed Richardson to write a morality tale with a male protagonist and it didn’t sell as well) — and Shelley wrote a novel that readers felt was void of morals. So I think this difference in reception was a battle of content over form, content coming out stronger in this case.

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