Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Lady and Her Monsters (Roseanne Montillo)

The book, The Lady and Her Monsters--A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley's Masterpiece (by Roseanne Montillo), is a delightful dance between the history of medicine and the development of one of the best known classics of Gothic and horror fiction, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and how science informed the writing of a literary classic.

For a long time I have wondered about the extent that the body snatchers (such as Burke and Hare), and the doctors that they supplied bodies for, influenced what Mary Shelley wrote. While I would have liked to explore such things while I was in college, the program that I was in reserved such things for students much later in their studies (and I am not even sure if Master level students are allowed to pursue such ideas). Therefore, I greeted my winning of this volume with much delight.

I knew some of the material covered in this book, in terms of broad strokes, but being able to put it all together was something that I was grateful that the author, Roseanne Montillo, helped me to do. Knowing the history brings a new level of understanding to the novel Frankenstein (which I read four times during the course of my college work, besides reading on a couple of occasions previously to getting my twin Bachelor degrees).

Literary and history students familiar with the names Shelley, Godwin, Polidori, and Byron, will gain new insight of those individuals--who occasionally despite their fame, come across as really petty human beings (personal judgment call there). Plus the whole episode from a medical history viewpoint is just fascinating.

Yes, I won this book in a Goodreads contest, and I am glad that I did. My only regret is that I somehow misplaced it for several weeks which delayed my finishing reading the book in a timely manner.

I am giving this book five out of five stars.

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