Dawn Reader

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Yep, Still Alive ...

Marc's (Aurora, Ohio), 30 January 2017
Yesterday, after supper, Joyce and I drove over to the Marc's store in Aurora (about a half-dozen miles away), a place I go because they carry organic white flour from Bob's Red Mill (a lot of you know: I'm a Baker Boy). While we were there, I ran into a dear student from decades ago. We talked for a while, then posed for a photo that Joyce took. Later, I posted it on Facebook, and, I have to say, I've been swept away by some of the kind remarks from some of my other former students.

But then ... there was this comment: Omg! He is still alive!!

I've kind of wondered about that myself, actually. Being still alive. As a matter of fact, when I looked at the picture Joyce took last night and saw that Old Dude with enough white hair to rival S. Claus, I couldn't believe that I was, you know, looking at me. A living me. But certainly not the me that I carry around in my head all day. (Perhaps this is why I avoid mirrors? Like a vacuous vampire, you know?)

I've never really much liked pictures of myself--not from my earliest school days when School Picture Day was a grim trial of fortitude. Show me your pictures, Danny! was an imperative I never really much cared for because my pictures always seemed to catch me in a most cruel way. And this went on for years. I mean, how is a kid supposed to recover from the laughter caused by his school pictures?!

Perhaps my favorite instance of my bad-picture-self is an image that appeared in Cleveland Magazine back in the 1990s. (See below.) I look as if I just murdered someone--or were contemplating doing so--or had just eaten someone's puppy, and then their kitty, and then their cute parakeet, and then their new little baby. And my beard is a bit too long to convince anyone I'm sane.

Oh well. We have what we have. And what I have now is a snow-white (not Snow White!) beard and mustache.

And when I look at the picture at the top of this page, all I can think is: Omg! He is still alive!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Frankenstein Sundae, 280

In December 1831, Adventures of a Younger Son, Trelawny’s memoir appeared. This, recall, was the book that Mary had helped publish for her friend from brighter days—the summer of 1822, that summer just before Bysshe and the others drowned. Trelawny had basically taken charge then, arranging for the cremations on the beach at Viareggio, Italy, and for the subsequent burial of Bysshe’s ashes in Rome’s Protestant Cemetery—where he himself would one day lie beside the remains of his hero, Bysshe Shelley.
Trelawny’s book, today, would earn something like the reaction to James Frey’s memoir A Million Little Pieces, 2005. Oprah had selected the volume for her Book Club—but then came the news that Frey had exaggerated and fabricated, news Oprah did not take, uh, sitting down. Frey went back on her show and endured a withering interview. And subsequent widespread opprobrium in the literary community.
Trelawny lived in a different time, though, and people were reading memoirs for entertainment, not necessarily for factual accuracy. And so readers were excited by his (exaggerated, fabricated) accounts of his sailing adventures in the Indian Ocean, battles, visits to exotic islands, and so on. The memoir ends before the summer of 1822, but Trelawny says at the end, I am continuing this history of my life.[1] This news did not please Mary, who, as we know, did not cooperate with his subsequent account, Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron, which did not appear until 1858, seven years after Mary’s death.
In August 1832, some months after the publication of his book, Trelawny and his daughter, Julia, 18, spent about a month with Mary. In her journal, Mary was both complimentary and harsh with Trelawny. He is a strange yet wonderful being, she wrote, —Endued with genius—great force of character & power of feeling—but destroyed by being nothing—destroyed by [envy] and internal dissatisfaction—At first he was so gloomy that he destroyed me—this wore off somewhat ….[2]
The Trelawnys left, and Mary wrote a piercing note in her journal about something horrible—yet another horrible occurrence in her still young life. My poor dear Brother William Sep. 8th of Cholera—This is a sad blow to us all ….[3] He was thirty-one.

[1] (London: Oxford UP, 1974), 464.
[2] 526–27.
[3] Ibid., 527.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 128

1. AOTW: I didn't really have anyone this week (other than the usual traffic-jerks), but then, this morning, at the grocery store ... we were in line ... a new lane opened up next to us ... but the AOTW (who was right behind us) scooted over there with nary a backward glance at us. And Darwin smiles ...

2. In the mail this week ... a new volume from the Library of America (to which we've subscribed from the git-go), a volume of stories by ... John O'Hara, with whom I became obsessed a few years ago ... read everything he wrote (and there was a lot), visited his hometown of Pottsville, PA, several times (and environs), saw his grave in Princeton, NJ (he lies near Jonathan Edwards!), his final home in Princeton (which a kind university prof let me tour), etc. I published on Amazon Direct a monograph ($2.99!) about that experience (shameless plug, I know). (Link to that publication.) Anyway, O'Hara was a fine short story writer--and still holds the record for the greatest number of appearances in the New Yorker.

3. This week I blogged about memorizing my 200th poem/literary passage. Then--I realized--I actually have 201! For some reason I'd left off my list that classic classic "Casey at the Bat" (1888) by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, a poem I memorized to entertain my grandson Logan, who loves baseball. So now, I guess, I'm on the way to 300 ...?

4. I finished three books this week ...

     - The first was the debut work by a former student of mine at Western Reserve Academy (I had her in 2001-02), Sulome Anderson, who has just published a memoir--The Hostage's Daughter: A Memoir of Family, Madness, and the Middle East (see yesterday's post, including a link to the fine review Sulome earned in the New York Times). As I said yesterday, Sulome is the daughter of journalist Terry Anderson, captured by militants in Lebanon in 1985 and held for about seven years in brutal captivity. At the time of the capture, Sulome was growing in her mother's womb, so she did not meet her father until she was in elementary school.

Sulome artfully weaves several narrative threads here: memories of her own childhood and adolescence (the latter was marked by her horrific battles with drug abuse and psychological demons), the story of her father's capture, her father's return to his home (where things were profoundly difficult for all), Sulome's pursuit of her father's story in Lebanon and elsewhere (she is a journalist in the region now), and, ultimately, her determination to find and interview her father's captors.

As I said yesterday here, I read the book in two greedy gulps and ended with such admiration for Sulome (admiration that was already substantial), for the capacity of her heart and her amazing courage. The most dangerous thing I do is go to the coffee shop. I cannot imagine the world(s) she has entered with such determination--and with such profound compassion, as well.

     - The second was the most recent Lee Child novel about Jack Reacher--Night School--a novel that takes us back into Reacher's earlier career. He joins some others in Germany to pursue someone who has stolen something worth $100 million to our enemies. What is it?

I prefer the Reacher novels that tell about his roaming about the remote parts of the USA, finding danger and terror and crime, kicking ass, etc.

There's a little ass-kicking in this one--but not enough to satisfy my primitive taste. Still ... it reads quickly, like the others, and I admire Child for his ability to do this, time after time. (This is the 21st Reacher novel.) And--not all that relevant--I can't stand Tom Cruise as Reacher in the two films (so far). Reacher is well over 6 feet--and physically intimidating. Tom Cruise ... never mind.

     - Finally ... a 2002 collection of short stories by Richard Ford, A Multitude of Sins. As readers here know, I'm slowly working my way through all of Ford's work. And I'm nearly finished. So I'm slowing down--not eager to read the final one (though I see he has a memoir coming down the road). All that remains are Canada (2012) and Let Me Be Frank with You (2014--four novellas about Frank Bascombe, who has been the principal character/narrator of three previous novels).

So ... Sins ... more and more about the profound failure of most men and women to be able to live together for very long. I mean, the first sentence in the first story ("Privacy") is this: "This was a time when my marriage was still happy" (3). The second story ("Quality Time") is about an affair; a later story ("Reunion") is about what the narrator calls "ordinary adultery" (66); in "Dominion," a character thinks ("Love, Henry remembered thinking then, was a lengthy series of insignificant questions whose answers you couldn't live without," 153); and "Abyss" (the final story) is about a pair of illicit lovers who visit the Grand Canyon; things don't work out, let's say.

Ford has the ability--rare in many writers, I find--to make me laugh aloud in the public places where I'm reading, bring tears to my eyes, make me think about things in ways I'd not ever before considered. What a talent ...

5. Joyce and I saw the film Lion this weekend at the Kent Cinema--and we both were astonished by the performance of Sunny Pawar, who played the little boy in India--lost on the streets--surviving (some very nasty moments)--ending up adopted by a kind couple from New Zealand. I think it's the best performance by a child I've ever seen--and I loved watching him run (which he had to do a lot!). The "grown" version of the boy was okay, too--but, man, that kid ...  (Link to trailer for the film.)

6. Final Words--some words from the various online word-of-the-day sites I subscribe to ...

     - from dictionary.com
froideur \frwa-dœr\ noun
1. French. an attitude of haughty aloofness; cold superiority.
... how can I express the cruelty of the atmosphere, the impertinent froideur of the air, which bit at any exposed parts of our bodies in a manner reminiscent of the Empress's loathsome puppy.
-- John Boyne, The House of Special Purpose, 2009
Origin of froideur

Froideur means “coldness” in French and is formed from the adjective froid “cold” (from the Latin adjective frigidus). The French suffix -eur (from the Latin suffix -or) is also used in English loanwords from French, e.g., entrepreneur, voyeur. The word entered English in the 18th century.

     - from wordsmith.org
pronunciamento  (proh-nun-see-uh-MEN-toh) noun
An official or authoritarian announcement.
From Spanish pronunciamiento (pronouncement, military uprising), from pronunciar (to pronounce), from Latin pronuntiare (to put forth), from pro- (toward) + nuntiare (to announce). Ultimately from the Indo-European root neu- (to shout), which also gave us announce, denounce, pronounce, and renounce. Earliest documented use: 1832.
“Johnny Depp’s statement, after Amber Heard ended their 15-month marriage, was blunt:
‘Given the brevity of this marriage and the most recent and tragic loss of his mother, Johnny will not respond to any of the salacious false stories, gossip, misinformation and lies ...’ Need I tell you that Depp’s pronunciamento didn’t stop the gossip?”
Doug Camilli; “Depp Just Wants to Get This Over With”; Montreal Gazette Canada); May 28, 2016.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Pleasant Return to Yesteryear

Yesterday, I walked--slowly, slowly! (ice!)--up to the chapel at Western Reserve Academy, where I taught the final decade of my career (2001-2011). One of best students my first year was Sulome Anderson, who, I recognized very quickly, was one of the finest writers I'd ever taught. She was mechanically flawless--but her sentences were sinuous, even complicated. But she handled it all with aplomb.

So I can't say that I was at all surprised--just happy!--to learn that she has recently published a book, The Hostage's Daughter: A Memoir of Family, Madness, and the Middle East (Dey St., 2016), a work that earned a terrific review in the New York Times, whose reviewer called it "a complex and engaging memoir." (Link to the entire review.)

Sulome is the daughter of journalist Terry Anderson, snatched by terrorists in Beirut in 1985 and held in grim captivity for seven years. Sulome was not quite yet born when this occurred and so did not actually meet her father until late 1991 when he was finally released.

I'm going to blog a bit more about the book itself in my "Sunday Sundries" tomorrow--but I'll just say here that I consumed it in two bursts in a single day. Rapid but revelatory prose.

Anyway, Sulome had returned to her former high school to talk with the students about her experiences, her book--and to speak with them, as well, about how they ought to go about their lives. The word empathy came up a lot in her talk (I silently applauded each time), a word she has a deep appreciation for because, you see, she is now a journalist in the Middle East, spending months every year in Lebanon (and elsewhere), facing danger and devastation so frequently as to astonish me. She radiates courage--but is far, far too self-effacing to aim the spotlight at herself.

She wants us to notice the forgotten ones, the ones who suffer more every hour than most of us do in a lifetime.

The students were very receptive, were full of questions, and, later, I was happy to be among those to have lunch with her (the chocolate-chip cookies reminding me how sweet sin can be). So great to talk with her again and to see that in fundamental ways she remains the Sulome I knew--but who, by finding the identity and purpose that she had sought in high school, has moved beyond potential into a most admirable adulthood.

She spent the entire day at the school, visiting classes, attending a student production in the evening of Twelve Angry Jurors (a play I used to teach in Aurora--Back in the Day), and socializing with so many of the teachers who had taught and admired her.

I can think of few experiences as important for students as seeing one of their own become such an inspirational but humble figure.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Milestone of ... Madness?

Okay, I reached a milestone today--one that will probably not surprise my Facebook friends. Those folks probably have noticed the past few months that I seem to have been memorizing a lot of poems (I post about each one when I've learned it).

Well, there's been a reason for that.

Some months ago, I realized that my total was nearing 200 (I was in the 170s at the time). I thought: I'm a-gonna do this!

And so I set out to do that which, today, I finished. No. 200.

I've written before here about my obsession with memorizing, an obsession that began slowly, accelerated, and has now reached terminal velocity.

The first piece I memorized as a school assignment was back at Adams Elementary School (Enid, OK) in the early 1950s. "A Visit from St. Nicholas," which I had to recite for the parents at some program. As I've written before, that part in the poem about "dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly" always puzzled me, but I charged through it as if I knew what it meant. (Good preparation for my teaching career!)

Other teachers assigned other poems through the years--one, my senior year in high school, was the first stanza or so of Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"--"The curfew tolls the knell of parting day ...."

I memorized other things just by repetition--hearing it, saying it--from naughty rhymes on the playground to Scripture in church.

After I began teaching a few years, I began requiring my students to memorize famous poems and passages (about ten to a dozen a year), and it was then that my true memorization mania commenced. I would learn the texts along with my class, but soon I grew bored and while they were learning, say, "The Road Not Taken," I would do another Frost poem. This went on and on and on.

I retired from public school in January 1997, then returned in 2001 to teach at a private school, Western Reserve Academy, where I continued the practice--again, learning new ones while the kids worked on my "old" ones.

I was nearing 100. And I reached it. On November 8, 2010, I gave a speech in the Reserve Chapel about what I'd done. One hundred poems!

But then what?

Aw, just keep learning ones I liked, were famous, were by writers I admired--or all of the above.

Finding "rehearsal" time, as I've written here before, has become an ... issue. I know that I must practice them, every week, more than once, or they will fly away like bored birds. So I've assigned a "time" for each of them. I have sets of them I rehearse (mumbling and mouthing only--I have not yet begun to speak them aloud in public!):

  • brushing my teeth in the morning (newer ones, every day)
  • in the shower, M-T, Th-Fri
  • while I dress (newer ones), every day
  • walking over to the coffee shop (M-T, Th-Fri)
  • at the coffee shop in the morning (M-T, Th-Fri)
  • driving out to the health club (M-T, Th-Fri)
  • at the health club (Monday thru Saturday, though I'm sometimes a Bad Boy and take a nap instead)
  • walking over to the coffee shop in the afternoon (Mon-Sat: newer ones, ones I'm learning)
  • walking home from the coffee shop in the afternoon (ditto)
  • in bed (going over ones that caused me to stumble earlier in the day)
So I've reached 200. Now what? Do I rest? Pat myself on the back?

I'm not sure. I know that (soon?) I will probably find some poems I just must learn. And so I'll do it. And off I'll go again on the Highway to 300.

And as for practice time? Joyce--who is usually the sole audience for these lines--may soon realize she's married an inveterate mumbler.

Anyway--here's the entire list ...

Matthew Arnold
              “Dover Beach”

W. H. Auden
              “Funeral Blues”
              “Musée des Beaux Arts”
              “Autumn Song”
              “Carry Her Over the Water”       

              “Psalm 23” (KJV)

Elizabeth Bishop
              “One Art”
              “Breakfast Song”

William Blake
              “The Tyger”

Philip Booth

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
              “How Do I Love Thee?”

Robert Browning
              “My Last Duchess”

Lord Byron
              “She Walks in Beauty”

Carroll, Lewis

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
              “When I Was Young”
              “Kubla Khan”

Billy Collins
              “After I Heard You Were Gone”

Hart Crane
              “My Grandmother’s Love Letters” (“There are no stars tonight”)

Stephen Crane
              “The Sage Lectured”
              “A Man Saw a Ball of Gold in the Sky”
              “A Man Said to the Universe”
              “In the Desert I Saw a Creature”
              “I Saw a Man Pursuing the Horizon”       

E. E. Cummings
              “I carry your heart with me”
              “maggie and millie and molly and may”
              “love is more thicker than forget”
              “the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls”
              “anyone lived in a pretty how town”

Charles Dickens
              Opening and closing sentences from A Tale of Two Cities

Emily Dickinson
              “Because I could not stop for death”
              “A bird came down the walk”
              “Hope is the thing with feathers”
              “If you were coming in the fall”
              “I like to see it lap the miles”
              “I taste a liquor never brewed”
              “Much madness is divinest sense”
              “There is no frigate like a book”
              “They say that ‘Time assuages’ —”
              “The going from a world we know”
              “The brain is wider than the sky”
              “I heard a fly buzz when I died”
              “A narrow fellow in the grass”
              “The props assist the house”
              “As imperceptibly as grief”
              “This is my letter to the world”
              “Tell all the truth but tell it slant”
              “The bee is not afraid of me”
              “Wild Nights! Wild Nights!”
              “A route of evanescence”
              “I dwell in possibility”

John Donne
              “Death Be Not Proud”
              “The Flea”
              “No Man Is an Island”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
              “Concord Hymn”

John Fletcher
              “Do Not Fear”

Philip Freneau
              “The Indian Burying Ground”

Robert Frost
              “Acquainted with the Night”
              “Fire and Ice”
              “Mending Wall”
              “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
              “Provide, Provide”
              “Questioning Faces”
              “The Road Not Taken”
              “The Silken Tent”
              “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Thomas Hardy
              “When Dead”

Jeffry Harrison

Felicia Hemans
              “The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck”

Robert Herrick
              “Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May”

A. E. Housman
              “When I was one-and-twenty”

Oliver Wendell Holmes
              “Old Ironsides”

Langston Hughes
              “Mother to Son”

Ted Hughes
              “Hawk Roosting”

Ben Jonson
              “On My First Son”

John Keats
              “Much Have I Travell’d in the Realms of Gold”
              “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be”

Martin Luther King, Jr.
              Excerpt from “I Have a Dream”

Galway Kinnell
              “Promissory Note”

Philip Larkin

Vachel Lindsay
              “Factory Windows”

Abraham Lincoln
              “The Gettysburg Address”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
              “The Arrow and the Song”
              “The Cross of Snow”
              “My Lost Youth”
              “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls”
              “Haunted Houses”

Amy Lowell
              “Night Clouds”

John McCrae
              “In Flanders Fields”

Keir Marticke (WRA student)
              “She Who Carried Hope”

Andrew Marvell
              “To His Coy Mistress” (“Had we but world enough”)

John Masefield
              “Sea Fever”

Edgar Lee Masters
              “Mabel Osborne”
              “Percy Bysshe Shelley”

William Matthews

Edna St. Vincent Millay
              “The Courage That My Mother Had”
              “Dirge Without Music”
              “First Fig”
              “Only until This Cigarette Is Ended”
              “Second Fig”
              “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed”
              “I Shall Forget You Presently”
              “Sonnet XIII: Read history”

Clement Clarke Moore
              “A Visit from St. Nicholas”

Sharon Olds
              “The Clasp”
              “High School Senior” (“For 17 years …”)
              “I Go Back to May 1937”  (“I see them standing…”)

Mary Oliver
              “The Black Snake”
              “When I was young and poor”

Thomas Paine
              “These are the times that try men’s souls”

Edgar Allan Poe
              “Annabel Lee”
              “The Raven”
              “To Helen”

Ransom, John Crowe
              “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter”

Edwin Arlington Robinson
              “Mr. Flood’s Party”
              “Reuben Bright”
              “Richard Cory”
              “Miniver Cheevy”

Kay Ryan
              “Ship in a Bottle”

Brynn Saito
              “Stone on Watch at Dawn”

Robert W. Service
              “The Cremation of Sam McGee”

William Shakespeare
              “All the world’s a stage” (from As You Like It)
              “But will you woo …?” (from The Taming of the Shrew)
              “Well come, my Kate” (from Shrew)
              “Fie, fie!” (from Shrew)
              “To be or not to be” (from Hamlet)
              “O, what a rogue and peasant slave” (from Hamlet)
              Hamlet (assorted short speeches)
              “Our revels now are ended” (from The Tempest)
              “Sigh No More” (from Much Ado About Nothing)
              “She should have died hereafter” (from Macbeth)
              “Soft you; a word or two before you go” (from Othello)
              “Fear No More the Heat of the Sun” (from Cymbeline)
              Sonnet 1: “From fairest creatures we desire increase”    
              Sonnet  2: “When forty winters shall besiege thy brow”
              Sonnet 18: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
              Sonnet 27: “Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed”
              Sonnet 29: “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes”
              Sonnet 30: “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought”
              Sonnet 31: “The bosom is endeared with all hearts”
              Sonnet 55: “Not marble, nor the gilded monuments of princes
              Sonnet 56: “Is it thy will thy image should keep open”
              Sonnet 64:“When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defac’d”
              Sonnet 73: “That time of year thou may’st in me behold”
              Sonnet 97: “How like a winter hath my absence been”
              Sonnet 98: “From you have I been absent in the spring”
              Sonnet 106: “When in the chronicle of wasted time”
              Sonnet 111: “O, for my sake do you with Fortune chide”
              Sonnet 116: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds”
              Sonnet 123: “No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change”
              Sonnet 130: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”
              Sonnet 138: “When my love swears that she is made of truth”
              Sonnet 147: “My love is as a fever, longing still”
              Sonnet 154: “The little love god, lying once asleep”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Shel Silverstein
              “The Little Boy and the Old Man”

Charles Simic
              “Eternity’s Orphans” (“One night you and I were walking”)

Kathryn Starbuck
              “A Gift”

Robert Louis Stevenson
              “My Shadow”
              “Windy Nights”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
              “The Charge of the Light Brigade”
              “Crossing the Bar”
              “The Eagle”
              “The Kraken”

Dylan Thomas
              “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”
              “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower”
              “In My Craft or Sullen Art”

Tomas Tranströmer
              “The Half-Finished Heaven”

Ocean Vuong
              “Torso of Air”

Walt Whitman
              “O Captain! My Captain!”

Richard Wilbur
              “Ecclesiastes 11:1”
              “The House”
              “April 5, 1974”
              “Year’s End”
              “Boy at the Window”

William Wordsworth
              “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud”
              “She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways”
              “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal”
              “The World Is Too Much with Us”
              “My Heart Leaps Up”

Wright, Charles
              “It’s Sweet to Be Remembered”

William Butler Yeats
              “Brown Penny”
              “The Lake Isle of Inisfree”
              “Oil and Blood”
              “The Second Coming”
              “When You Are Old”
              “The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner”
              “Down by the Salley Gardens”
              “The Wild Swans at Coole” 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Frankenstein Sundae, 279

The year 1831 was significant for Mary for another reason: She published a revised version of Frankenstein. (In 1824, her father had made some slight changes in the book for another republication.) In 1831, she made some substantive changes. In the original (1818), for example, she had Victor marry his cousin Elizabeth, but in the revision she becomes, instead, a girl his family had adopted. (Whatever the case, Elizabeth does not live long, thanks to … you get three guesses.) Mary also removed some of the scientific references. And there were other changes that, collectively, merit—in the view of most scholars—the adjective significant.
But the great gift to fans of Mary and the book is her 1831 “Introduction,” in which she explains the genesis of the novel—those stormy nights and days on Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816, the ghost-story-writing project that Byron had suggested, her frustrations about her initial failure to come up with a good idea.
Then—this famous passage about what happened late one night: When I placed my head on the pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie. I saw—with shut eyes, but acute mental vision,—I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy half vital motion.[i]
In that “Introduction,” she also credits Bysshe for encouraging her to expand her story into a novel, and she refers to her work with a phrase that has become famous enough to serve as a title of other books about her and her work—my hideous progeny.[ii]
Most scholars agree that Mary embellished—even sanitized—that summer and its various doings. (They were a rowdy crew—Byron, Bysshe, Mary, Claire, Dr. Polidori.) But there is certainty, too, that there is a core of truth in Mary’s bright apple.

[i] “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus,” The Novels and Selected Works of Mary Shelley, vol. 1 (London: William Pickering, 1996), 179.
[ii] Ibid., 180; on Amazon.com, search, using the title line, “hideous progeny,” and you will find quite a selection, including editor Steven Earl Forry’s Hideous Progenies: Dramatizations of Frankenstein from the Nineteenth Century to the Present (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1990). It’s a book I’ve used a lot.