Though they never knew each other in life (MW died soon after MS was born), the similarities are inescapable. MW wrote The Vindication of the Rights of Women. MS wrote Frankenstein. Both books were earth-shattering in their own right. The men (William Godwin and Percy Bysshe Shelley respectively) who they made their lives with were far from conventional. By the standards of their time, MW and MS broke all of the rules of what it was to be a female. In doing so, they paved the way for future generations of writers (female especially) to fulfill their dreams.
I loved this book. Gordon introduces her subjects to the audience in such a way that they feel modern. While reading, I was inspired to give the proverbial middle finger to what is “normal” and not care what others think. If nothing else, I think that is the legacy of this extraordinary pair of women.
The only thing I will warn is that Gordon’s narrative is not linear. She alternates each chapter between MW and MS. I took a minute to understand where Gordon was going. After that, I had no problem with the story.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley is available wherever books are sold.
Over the centuries, women have been portrayed as many things: the innocent victim who is in need of rescue, the slut, the man-hater, the marriage-minded miss, etc. The problem with these images is that they are 2-D and without room to grow beyond the boxed-in perception. The only way to smash these stereotypes is to allow us to tell our own stories from our perspective.
This book is a classic for a reason. Forty-plus years after its initial publication, it is as relevant today as it was back then. Their theory that women writers have a greater insight and ability to create 3D fully human characters as opposed to the typecast idea of females that some male writers have can still be seen today on both the page and the screen.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is one of those novels. If we did not read the novel, we have watched at least one of the numerous film adaptations.
Published in 1818, The Morgan Library is commemorating the 200th anniversary of the book and the history of the narrative in the exhibit, It’s Alive! Frankenstein at 200.
Containing manuscripts, images, movie posters, and other memorabilia, the exhibit lays out the history of Frankenstein from a novel to a cultural icon that still lives with us 200 years after it’s premiere.
I truly enjoyed this exhibit. The exhibit is laid out in such a way that the visitor is not overwhelmed by dry academic facts. It starts off with Mary Shelley, takes the reader through her life, the publishing of the novel, the reaction of the public and finally to the various adaptations that have come about over the years. It is fun, entertaining and educational without hitting the visitor over the head.
I recommend it.
The Morgan Library is located at 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016. It’s Alive! Frankenstein at 200 will be at The Morgan Library until January 27th, 2019. Check the website for ticket prices and hours.
Earlier today, I saw Young Frankenstein (1974). A satire of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, as only Mel Brooks can conceive of, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) is the American grandson of the infamous scientist, Victor Frankenstein. Frederick will do anything to prove that he is not his grandfather’s grandson, but when push comes to shove, the blood and the infamous history of Frankenstein’s takes over.
Teri Garr plays Inga, Frederick’s assistant.
Inga may appear to be just a dumb blonde speaking in a faux Eastern European accent and wearing a low-cut dress, but her character is vital to Frederick’s development from the beginning of the film to the end of the film. Along with Igor (Marty Feldman), they travel with Frederick from his denial of who he is to his acceptance of his DNA and his fate. Inga also gets some of the best lines in the film, as per the scene above.
I recommend this film, if nothing else, for Teri Garr’s performance.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, I’d like to share a few quotes and videos from some of the trailblazers and fore-mothers who have come before us.
“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand.
“If men could see us as we really are, they would be a little amazed; but the cleverest, the acutest men are often under an illusion about women: they do not read them in a true light: they misapprehend them, both for good and evil: their good woman is a queer thing, half doll, half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiend.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Shirley
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
“Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”- Jane Austen, Persuasion
“A woman is like a tea bag-you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”-Eleanor Roosevelt
“The greatest feminists have also been the greatest lovers. I’m thinking not only of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley, but of Anais Nin, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and of course Sappho. You cannot divide creative juices from human juices. And as long as juicy women are equated with bad women, we will err on the side of being bad.”-Erica Jong, Fear Of Flying
Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) is the grandson of the original Dr. Frankenstein. After years of trying to remove himself from his familial past, he is pulled back in and attempts to re-create his grandfather’s work. Co starring the late Peter Boyle (the monster), Marty Feldman (Igor), Teri Garr (Inga) and the late great Madeline Kahn (Elizabeth).
What can I say about this movie? It is immensely quotable and beyond funny. Brooks retains the origins of Mary Shelley’s original novel while putting his own stamp on the story.
And now for your viewing pleasure, the trailer for Young Frankenstein:
I’m also including Putting On The Ritz, it’s the funniest scene in the film.
To Be Or Not To Be is Brook’s 1983 remake of the 1942 original film starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.
Just before World War II, a Polish acting troupe led by Frederick and Anna Bronski (Brooks and his late wife, Anne Bancroft) is preparing for their next production when they learn that it has to be scrapped. The Nazis are massing on the borders of Poland. When Anna starts receiving flowers and visits from a young Polish officer (Tim Matheson), the entire troupe becomes involved in the war.
Brooks and his collaborators kept much of the original screenplay intact while putting their own spin on the film. As he did in The Producers, Brooks taking the sting out of the Nazis (as much as one can), while pointing out the absurdity of their beliefs. This movie is perfect and funny and always enjoyable.