Lauritsen, John.”The Man Who Wrote Frankenstein”, Pagan Press, 2007.
An Original and Argument
We have always been taught that Mary Shelley wrote the great gothic novel “Frankenstein”, John Lauritsen maintains otherwise. His thesis is that Mary Shelley was not the author but her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley is the actual author of the novel and that its basic theme is that of male love. In other words, Shelley, the male wrote the profound and complex work about the very masculine monster. It’s an interesting theory and quite convincing. Using methods of literary criticism, Lauritsen has created a page turner that is full of suspense and reads like a first class detective novel. The author is slick in letting his detractors undermine themselves and the amount of research done to produce this book is phenomenal. Lauristen used letters, comments and the manuscript itself and in doing so recreates the world in which “Frankenstein” was created.
As a gay historian, the author reads the test from a homoerotic view and presents the sexual imagery and secretly coded social commentary in the book. It blows apart the past views of the novel as one-dimensional and his new approach gives him ways in which to interpret the text. Lauristen has challenged the literary canon and tears into the novel that he considers to have been part of a mythical undertaking.
What drew the author to his conclusion? He says it is based upon the various themes of the novel and the ideas of revolution, forgiveness, science, psychology, revenge and nature—all themes found in Percy Shelley. The evidence presented is very persuasive as Mary Shelley was not interested in these issues, Additionally, The author feels that Percy Shelley had strong feelings for other men and this is why the book can be so understood in homoerotic terms. But the most convincing argument of all lies in the poetry, the ideas and the imagination of the text. It is not a gothic thriller but rather a novel of profound and radical ideas which is written in prose that is poetically powerful. Lauristen also maintains that male love, as romantic male friendship, is a central theme of the novel and the references are sometimes quite direct and at other times quite hidden.
The book is actually quite funny and quite dangerous at the same time. It challenges some of the greats in the field of literary criticism but then some of the academics refuse to admit anything that is a bit offbeat. Here is true independent scholarship at its very best. Written in non academic language, it deals with a very academic subject. Here we have a great piece of literature with challenged authorship—a book that has been studies by both graduate students and undergrads. It is quite an engrossing read and I can’t help but look at “Frankenstein” now with a new approach.