Monday, October 14, 2013

The Dreams of Mary Shelley

Being October, though not much of a Halloween person, I thought it would be fun to read Frankenstein.  I have never read even an abridged version of this story, nor do I know very much about the plot.  
Mary Shelley
I began reading my copy last week, and there is an author's introduction page, which I read through, and found a wonderful truth about the author, Mary Shelley.  She says,
It is not singular that, as the daughter of two persons of distinguished literary celebrity, I should very early in life have thought of writing.  As a child I scribbled, and my favorite pastime during the hours given me for recreation was to "write stories."  Still, I had a dearer pleasure than this, which was the formation of castles in the air - the indulging in waking dreams - the following up trains of thought, which had for their subject the formation of succession of imaginary incidents.  My dreams were at once more fantastic and agreeable than my writings.  In the latter I was a close imitator - rather doing as others had done than putting down the suggestions of my own mind.  What I wrote was intended at least for one other eye - my childhood's companion and friend; but my dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed - my dearest pleasure when free.
I cannot help but wonder if Mary Shelley read a lot of fairy tales in her childhood.  A child who is exposed to fairy tales at a very young age is more apt to have a fantastic imagination. About fairy tales, Albert Einstein once said:
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
And my favorite quote about fairy tales is this:
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” - Neil Gaiman, Coraline
Here is an article on The Importance of Fairy Tales by Meg Moseley. The author explains: 
I believe fairy tales will help a child develop a vivid imagination, too, and a sense of wonder and strong curiosity about the world. A child who’s capable of imagining fairy wings and magic bean stalks is also capable of imagining other wonders. Imagine a grown man, a surgeon, who was raised on fairy tales. He envisions an entirely new medical procedure and he’s told that it’s impossible. But his heart, if not his mind, remembers that the impossible is possible, so he tries it…and it works.  
There are even deeper values to fairy tales. Because they don’t have to follow the conventions of the real world, they are wonderful vehicles for conveying deep truths. 
While I do not know the ending to Frankenstein, I think there may be something extraordinary about the story that could only have been written by someone who had an extravagant mind and was probably exposed to fantastical stories about the world around her, which should make for an interesting story. 

2 comments:

  1. You've made a great case for fairy tales here, Ruth. I believe I'll put Frankenstein on my post-WEM TBR list.
    I love the Neil Gaiman quote.

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    1. Isn't that a great quote? I learned that one during our Medieval school year. Fairy tales are also a lesson about good and evil, and good always wins. That's why they are the best stories.

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