Happy Book Lover’s Day!

Did you know that today was National Book Lover’s Day? Neither did I, but I heard on the radio this morning that it was so I googled it and – sure enough there is such a thing. How will you be celebrating? I will probably start by working from 8 to 5, but after that I think I will get started with reading Ruth Ozeki’s “A Tale for the Time Being.” What will you be reading?

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Oh, and I have a another tidbit to share:

My first literary neologism: The “Frankenslam!”

(below: Mary Shelley, author of “Frankenstein”)

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I recently learned on Twitter about a book that deals with the lives of Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and the romantics. It’s Lynn Shephard’s “A Treacherous Likeness.”  It sounds very interesting, but I’m not sure if it would be my up of tea or not. It did get me thinking about Mary Shelley again, and her wonderful “monster.” I remember, the first time I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, marveling and how articulate and literate her “Modern Prometheus” was. Although I knew enough not to expect some grunting, lurch-ing Lon Chaney (Boris Karloff?) version of the monster, I was still surprised at his intellect.

How did come by it? Well, during the novel, he finds a portmanteau containing three books which help him educate himself. It is in chapter fifteen when the “monster” describes how he came by part of his education:

“One night during my accustomed visit to the neighboring wood where I collected my own wood and brought home firing for my protectors, I found on the ground a leathern portmanteau containing several articles of dress and some books. I eagerly seized the prize and returned with it to my hovel. Fortunately the books were written in the language, the elements of which I had acquired at the cottage; they consisted of Paradise Lost, a volume of Plutarch’s Lives, and the Sufferings of Young Werther. The possession of these new treasures gave me extreme delight; I now continually exercised my mind on these histories…”

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(above: John Milton, author of “Paradise Lost”)

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(below: Plutarch’s Lives)

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It is primarily from these three books that the monster slowly constructs his mighty intellect. How fortuitous that ‘divine providence’ saw fit to not only provide the poor wretch with some books, but some classics! (Perhaps this was the same providence which caused a watertight sea chest to wash ashore “with everything he needed” on Robinson Crusoe’s island?) Anyway, it set me pondering about these three books. I wonder how many of us (besides the monster) have read them all? I assume Mary Shelley did, but at this point, she’s the only person I know of who has completed the relatively rare “Frankenslam!”

I’m on my way, though, as I actually own copies of all three, and have read Geothe’s “The Sufferings of Young Werther” and much of Plutarch’s Lives (and the monster notes that the portmanteau contained “a volume” of Plutarch’s Lives, not all*). I’ve attempted Milton a couple times without success, but maybe trying again should be how I celebrate National Book Lover’s Day? (And I wonder, perhaps it was on August 9th that the monster found the books… )

What about you? How far along are you with the Frankenslam? Have you started? Finished? Will you be joining the small club of those who have managed it?

*re-reading further, he relates that it is the volume that contains the lives of the founders of the ancient republics. I may have to do some research to determine exactly which volume it translates to.

(below: my personal library’s raw materials for a Frankenslam. Note the “used” sticker on the spine of Paradise Lost & Paradise Regained – must’ve bought that at the Wabash College Bookstore way back in the day… Perhaps I should purchase “a leathern portmanteau” in which to keep them?)

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3 Comments

  1. Dee said,

    August 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Jay …….
    I am always astounded by the connections you make and the visuals you import ….. WELL DONE!
    What I have to share today is that in April, I read The Lady and her Monsters ….. (Sorry, I am so computer non-adept that I don’t know how to underline) ….. by Rosanne Montillo. It is a history of dissection/ vivisection going way back ….. ending in the present day! but centered on Mary Wollstonecraft and her book.
    Most interesting – I recommend it!
    Thanks for sharing the way you do ……..
    Dee

    Like

    • Jay said,

      August 11, 2013 at 9:40 am

      Thanks so much, Dee. And thanks for the recommendation. Hard to believe a book on vivisection/dissection would be an easy read, but I’ll put it on my list of potential reads.
      -Jay

      Like

      • Dee said,

        August 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm

        It was certainly not hard to read ….. I liked how Mary was put into context of both history, family history, social background of the day (medical research gone criminal) and her goings on with Shelly et al. Better than fiction!

        Like


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