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ISBN: 978 1 847772 37 4
Categories: 20th Century, British, Women
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Published: March 2013
213 x 135 x 23 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)
In the summer of 1816, aged nineteen, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. A pioneering work of science fiction, it captured the popular imagination from the start. The daughter of radical philosopher William Godwin and pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley lived an unconventional life marred by tragedy. At sixteen she scandalised England by eloping with her married lover, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, but was widowed after only a few years when he drowned. She survived him by nearly thirty years, supporting herself and their one surviving son largely by the pen.
Muriel Spark had a lifelong fascination with Mary Shelley. She published her first book on her in 1951, then spent decades revising and refining it. It is reissued here with previously unpublished material. Spark paints an engaging portrait of a complex and misunderstood figure. She divides her study into parts, ‘Biographical’ and ‘Critical’. A sympathetic account of Shelley’s life is followed by critical studies of her major literary works. Spark’s abridgement of Shelley’s uneven apocalyptic novel The Last Man is included here, while her initial scheme for the book and her later preface, in which she reflects on her own subsequent career as a novelist, are added. This is a fascinating study of Mary Shelley’s life and work. It also provides valuable insight into the critical and creative development of Muriel Spark.
With an introduction by Michael Schmidt.
Introduction by Michael Schmidt
Mary Shelley: Author’s Note
Part I. Biographical
Part II. Critical
Appendix. The Last Man – An Abridged Version
'Spark achieves precisely what she sets out to: no surprise to us now but pretty impressive given that this was her first book.'
Zoë Strachan, Scottish Review of Books Praise for Muriel Spark 'Mysterious, haunting, meticulously wrought.'
'The style is bracingly familiar â beady, ironic, acidulous... She is an astute critic.'
Anthony Quinn, Daily Mail Like all her work, surprising, beautifully written, and with unnerving glimpses into the abyss which lies, always, beneath our feet.
- John Mortimer, Evening Standard
'The marvellous thing about Muriel Spark's writing is that...it never gets knotted up in its own so-sharp-she'll-cut-herself cleverness. Spark's writing has a subtle merriment about it, a lightness of touch, a willingness to share in fleeting moments of mundane love and pleasure.'
Jenny Turner, London Review of Books
'Like all her work, surprising, beautifully written, and with unnerving glimpses into the abyss which lies, always, beneath our feet.'
John Mortimer, Evening Standard
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