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My grades are turned in, which means this semester really is over. Mmmm, pumpkin spice coffee... :)

A few quick notes:

1. Thanks to beledibabe for the lovely card and fantastic bookmark! Woohoo!

2. BBC News has some fun limericks that answer the question Is Lewis or Tolkien the best?

3. Powys Media, publisher of the new series of books based on The Prisoner, has announced the second and third books in their series. The second, due in Spring 2006, will be The Other by Lance Parkin, who won the Doctor Who Magazine poll three times as favorite author. The third, due in Fall 2006, will be Miss Freedom by Dr. Who script editor and novelist Andrew Cartmel. For a great review of the first novel, Prisoner's Dilemma by Jonathan Blum and Rupert Booth, see The Unmutual Reviews.

I am so in love with Mary Shelley's 1826 novel The Last Man (available online here). It's a work of terrible beauty, not to mention complex and thoughtful themes. It certainly deserves to be remembered as often and with equal appreciation as Frankenstein. The novel supplies my quote for the day:

Deep sorrow must have been the inmate of our bosoms; fraud must have lain in wait for us; the artful must have deceived us; sickening doubt and false hope must have chequered our days; hilarity and joy, that lap the soul in ecstasy, must at times have possessed us. Who that knows what "life" is, would pine for this feverish species of existence? I have lived. I have spent days and nights of festivity; I have joined in ambitious hopes, and exulted in victory: now,--shut the door on the world, and build high the wall that is to separate me from the troubled scene enacted within its precincts. Let us live for each other and for happiness; let us seek peace in our dear home, near the inland murmur of streams, and the gracious waving of trees, the beauteous vesture of earth, and sublime pageantry of the skies. Let us leave "life," that we may live.

from The Last Man by Mary Shelley


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 16th, 2005 04:03 pm (UTC)
Isn't the end of semester just the most wonderful feeling :o)

I've never read any Mary Shelley except for Frankenstein. Perhaps I should read this too.
Dec. 16th, 2005 05:08 pm (UTC)
It is the most wonderful feeling. I feel all warm inside, like a gingerbread cookie! LOL.

I really do recommend The Last Man. It's unflinching in its description of the plague as it destroys both the people and their institutions. An added fascination is that she used the memory of her own former circle as inspirations, and you can easily tell which character is Shelley, which is Byron, which is Claire. Some scholars see it as a dismissal of the lifestyles and values she had witnessed in her set and her father's - at any rate, it's deeply bittersweet and haunting.
Dec. 16th, 2005 04:23 pm (UTC)
My semester was finally over Wedensday when I took my last final. And Tuesday I will know what my final grades are. Have a beautiful holiday my dear friend full of love and happiness.
Dec. 16th, 2005 05:09 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! I hope you get to have a bit of a rest now after all you accomplished. Thank you for your kind holiday wishes - the same to you, my friend! ((((FG)))))
Dec. 16th, 2005 05:58 pm (UTC)
mmmm, i love mary shelley's writing style. :) fills me with all sorts of warm goodness.
Dec. 16th, 2005 07:57 pm (UTC)
You and me both!
Dec. 16th, 2005 07:22 pm (UTC)
It certainly deserves to be remembered as often and with equal appreciation as Frankenstein.

I have to admit that, despite being a long time SF/Fantasy buff, I'd never read Frankenstein. My daughter has just read it for GCSEs and kept bunging the book in front of me and saying; "Read this, mum, now answer that..."! I have to admit that I thought the book was turgid, repetitive, ponderous, archaic (not surprising when you consider when it was written, but why force it on 15/16 year olds when there are so many interesting modern books to engage the young mind?) and boring! *g* Having recently read H G Wells' War of the Worlds I had been amazed at the very modern views he had on society, ecology, war, waste... etc. and thought that it, unlike Frankenstein, would be a wonderful book to use as a set text for GCSEs. Knowing that English Lit is your field, and accepting that my further ed, degree etc, was pretty much all science based I wondered if you could tell me just what I'm missing in my utter lack of appreciation for Frankenstein. *g*

Oh, and season greetings.
Dec. 16th, 2005 08:15 pm (UTC)
Season's greetings to you, as well! :)

I'm actually a historian by training, so when I read and teach and write about texts, I tend to come from that perspective. (So archaic doesn't bother me! LOL.) I do agree with you about Wells being an excellent read, but then again my students read Wells, too.

It's hard to do Frankenstein credit off the cuff, but so many things are working together in that piece, from the classic Oedipal issue of parent and child, to the modern issue of isolation and community. There is, in the work, a uniquely post-Scientific Revolution view of creation, and the nature of the creator and the created. It's Gothicism infused with a Romantic sensibility, and it's Science Fiction infused with Horror. The monster, unlike in the film versions, is in fact more eloquent and more sympathetic than Frankenstein, and in the monster I think we can see humanity's outrage at both the creator and the idea of mortality. (Think of Victor Frankenstein as God - "the Victor" - in Paradise Lost, which was a tremendous influence on the story.)

I enjoy her style - though I think her voice and her themes are better developed in The Last Man - but the book is a beautiful bridge between texts as old as classic mythology (it's interesting that Mary Shelley saw Prometheus not as a hero, but as a devil - similarly, many of the Utopian promises the Romantics saw in the French Revolution and Industrial Revolutions, like fire, became the source of horrors as well as progress) and as current as Blade Runner or even Serenity.

See? I told you I'd have a hard time doing this in a quick post. I see it as a text that is a window in both directions, foreshadowing the birth of new genres, while reinterpreting ancient and classic texts. It's one stop shopping for questions about the human condition.
Dec. 16th, 2005 08:28 pm (UTC)
PS. All that said, I would want any young reader, or any student, prepared with at least an introductory understanding of the Prometheus myth, the Oedipus story, and Paradise Lost, as well as the general issues of the Scientific, French, and Industrial Revolutions, and Gothicism, Romanticism, and Christianity -- all of which Mary Shelley's contemporary readers would have been -- before reading Frankenstein. Much of the key is in the context.
Dec. 16th, 2005 10:08 pm (UTC)
Okayyyyyyyyyyyy! *g* Right, I can see all the themes as daughter managed to tease them out quite well, plus I gave her my huge Encyclopaedia of SF which is very helpful. However, the style just grates on me as it is so pompous and lecturing. Listening to Frankenstein leves me with a headache and a desire to tell him to grow up, take responsibility for his actions and stop bloody whinging! I guess I'm just too much a modern reader. *g*

Thanks for taking me seriously though, I much appreciate it. Daughter got A+ for her essay, so even thought she didn't enjoy or appreciate having to read it she did understand it!
Dec. 16th, 2005 11:45 pm (UTC)
Huge congrats to your daughter! Well done indeed. And I can certainly concede the style issue. At some point, it really is a question of different strokes for different folks, you know? I think Blade Runner the film does best in the recent past what Frankenstein did in the 19th century (with Rutger Hauer's Roy as the monster). But BR is no longer recent now either, is it? *sigh* Thanks for being willing to talk about it. And kudos again to your daughter!
Dec. 16th, 2005 10:48 pm (UTC)
*pats your shiny brain*

the fact that you can make it to the end of an obviously very busy senester and still post comments like this... (:

*we're not worthy - we're not worthy*

Dec. 16th, 2005 11:47 pm (UTC)
*blush* You are waaay too kind. Frequent overuses of dashes and compound-complex sentences are sure signs that I'm exhausted. As for brainpower, I probably won't be able to find my way to my car in the parking lot. LOL! It's all relative. Your kind words are most appreciated, however. *raises coffee cup in salute*
Dec. 16th, 2005 10:53 pm (UTC)
see, I feel sorry for your students because they only have you for a semester or so, while we get you all the time. *beams*

fab quote as usual - "the beauteous vesture of earth, and sublime pageantry of the skies" is gorgeous.

I haven't read much Shelley beyond Frankenstein. I figure that any woman whose source material gave us Young Frankenstein will always be revered.

/ annoying frivolity.
Dec. 16th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC)

"For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius..." :-P

You are SO much fun. Thanks for your lovely comments.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )