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Mathilda by Mary Shelley
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Mathilda (1819)

by Mary Shelley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
"a luxury of grief" ( )
  tronella | Jun 22, 2019 |
"I was a creature cursed and set apart by nature", 18 December 2016

This review is from: Mary Shelley - Mathilda (Paperback)
Although the dark and turbid mindset of the heroine of this tale gives us an impression of the author's own feelings at this time (her son had recently died), as a work of literature I found this terribly over-the-top and melodramatic.
Matilda's mother dies shortly after her birth, and her distraught father goes abroad. For the next sixteen years the girl grows up in the care of a cold-natured aunt until finally, to her joy, her father returns.
(spoiler alert) After a few deliriously happy months in his company, he suddenly and inexplicably changes, becoming harsh and abrupt. When Matilda demands he tell her why, he at last reveals that he is in love with her. And here the whole thing just became ridiculous to me. Both parties decide they must never again meet; her father goes on to commit suicide. Matilda goes off to live in a cottage on a moor, where she adopts a nun's dress and talks interminably about her longing for death, unable to go back into society as "like another Cain, I had a mark set on my forehead to show mankind that there was a barrier between me and them." (Why? She did nothing wrong.)
As a description of profound, illogical depression, it has some merit, but I have to say that I found Matilda an unpleasantly self-obsessed tragedy queen. ( )
  starbox | Dec 17, 2016 |
This short novel was Mary Shelley's second book after Frankenstein, but due to its controversial themes, it was not published until 140 years later in 1959. It is a semi-autobiographical portrayal, with the roles of Shelley, her father William Godwin and her husband Percy Shelley taken by Mathilda, her unnamed father and her poet companion, Woodville. The controversy lies mainly in the theme of the incestuous love ("unlawful and monstrous passion") her father feels for Mathilda, which, not surprisingly, given that there is no suggestion of any real such impropriety, led to William Godwin refusing to return the manuscript to Mary for publication. Linked to this theme, the main thrust of the novel is Mathilda's despair and wish for death because of guilt at supposedly having provoked the unnatural love on the part of her father; it is a bleak piece of writing, penned by Shelley after the death of her two young children, one year old Clare and three year old William, which led to her temporary alienation from her husband. In sum, a morbid read, arguably significant more for its literary background than its intrinsic merit as a novel. ( )
  john257hopper | Apr 2, 2016 |
What can I say? It's a book of another time, where death reunites you with those you've lost. Where Freud's Mourning and Melancholia had not yet been written. I admit that this other time both intrigues me and excludes me. The writing is beautiful. Let's leave it at that. ( )
  Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
Shelf Notes Review

Dear Reader,

Did I tell you how much I ADORE Melville House for coming up with a Novella subscription service? Each month, I get two small but colorful volumes dropped at my door! Just the right size, and I get to read some classic lit mixed in with all the other books I happen to be reading. Genius! Want to be included in the fun? Check it out here! The Art of the Novella. So yes, now that I have that out the way... I can tell you ALL about how this first Novella didn't quite strike my fancy, unfortunately.

Oh Mathilda, this one seemed promising but it became apparent early on that this was going to be very long-winded (even for a novella). Don't get me wrong, it was written beautifully (I mean it is Mary Shelley!) To be frank, the book started off pretty interesting but after the part with her father panned out and we met her poet beau, I found it downright dull. I can barely understand the idea behind her father lusting after her (super creepy). I mean yes, the father wasn't in her life growing up and I'm sure she looked quite a bit like her Mother when they finally met... but REALLY? To make matters worse, he made her life miserable because of his own guilt. The guy was a terrible human being, so why should I care that he met his fate tragically? I don't. It made me so angry that Mathilda succumbs to depression after he passes, she has the chance at a normal life but she is stuck under the shadow of her dastardly father.

It wasn't a waste to read this though, the book is quite unique and has a very interesting background story. Apparently, Shelley and her Father shared a different kind of relationship themselves (cough, gag). When Mary wrote this novel, her father (who was sent the Novella to be published) never allowed her to do so, saying that the themes were "disgusting and detestable". This Novella wasn't published until 1959, but was written 1819. The story behind the book is fascinating and definitely gives the book a little more depth. I can't wait to check out my next Novella, and I encourage you to join me in this endeavor.

Happy Reading,
AmberBug ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Shelleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Faubert, MichelleEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It is only four o'clock; but it is winter and the sun has already set: there are no clouds in the clear, frosty sky to reflect its slant beams, but the air itself is tinged with a slight roseate colour which is again reflected on the snow that covers the ground.
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Book description
An orphaned girl finally meets her father when she's in her mid-teens — a glorious time, but within months, he disappears and commits suicide. His crime, to love a forbidden love, his daughter. She then isolates herself and wills herself to die. A very Romantic period novel.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0976658372, Paperback)

But my father, my beloved and most wretched father... Would he never overcome the fierce passion that now held pitiless dominion over him?

With its shocking theme of father-daughter incest, Mary Shelley’s publisher—her father, known for his own subversive books—not only refused to publish Mathilda, he refused to return her only copy of the manuscript, and the work was never published in her lifetime.

His suppression of this passionate novella is perhaps understandable—unlike her first book, Frankenstein, written a year earlier, Mathilda uses fantasy to study a far more personal reality. It tells the story of a young woman whose mother died in her childbirth—just as Shelly’s own mother died after hers—and whose relationship with her bereaved father becomes sexually charged as he conflates her with his lost wife, while she becomes involved with a handsome poet. Yet despite characters clearly based on herself, her father, and her husband, the narrator’s emotional and relentlessly self-examining voice lifts the story beyond autobiographical resonance into something more transcendent: a driven tale of a brave woman’s search for love, atonement, and redemption.

It took more than a century before the manuscript Mary Shelley gave her father was rediscovered. It is published here as a stand-alone volume for the first time.

The Art of The Novella Series

Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:47 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Narrating from her deathbed, Matilda tells the story of her unnamed father's confession of incestuous love for her, followed by his suicide by drowning; her relationship with a gifted young poet called Woodville fails to reverse Matilda's emotional withdrawal or prevent her lonely death.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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