Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, March 31, 2017

Frankenstein Sundae, 298

• She told, in her entry on Boccaccio, a story about his passion for a married woman. And then this: That the lovers suffered great misery, may serve as a warning as well as an example, of how such attachments, from their very nature, from the separations, suspicions, and violations of delicacy and ruth entailed upon them, must, under the most favourable auspices, be fruitful of solitude and wretchedness.[1] I wonder how Mary’s father reacted when he read this—from the daughter who had run away with a married man in 1814. Well, I guess we can say, at best, that from experience she had learned a few things. Solitude and wretchedness did follow—though not immediately—after her elopement, and she writes about it continually in her journal and letters.
• In her entry about Giambattista Marino (1569–1625), a Neapolitan poet, she relates a tale about his estrangement from his father, who had not been exactly thrilled about his son’s choice of profession: His father, angry at his resistance to his wishes, was doubly indignant when he gave open testimony of his new career, and actually published a volume of poetry; he turned him from his house, and refused to supply him with the necessaries of life.[2] Mary could not have written a word of that without thinking about her late husband, whose father, Sir Timothy Shelley, behaved in exactly the same manner as Marino’s.
• Occasionally in these entries Mary would wax philosophical about art, about writing, about literature, about life itself. In her entry on Vittorio Alfieri (1749–1803), an Italian poet and playwright, Mary paused to say this: Ignorance narrows the intellect, and takes the living colours from the imagination.[3] Is it too obvious to note how this resonates so jarringly in our own time?

[1] Ibid., 122.
[2] Lives of the Most Eminent Literary and Scientific Men of Italy, Spain, Portugal, vol. 2 (London: Longman Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longman; John Taylor, 1835), 174.
[3] Ibid., 261–62.

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