Book Reviews

When I added this tab, I was of the mindset that I was going to review one book a month. Sadly, this has not been the case. When you spend your days assessing manuscripts, it’s hard to spend your down time doing what it is you do while working: Reading. Nevertheless, I am going to try my best and follow through with my original goal. Even if it means I can only manage to read and review novellas.

With that being said, this month I managed to conquer Mary Shelley’s Mathilda. Of all of Shelley’s works, Mathilda is her most controversial. Although it was written in 1819, it was not published until 1959. Some critics felt the work was autobiographical, and that the three central characters within the text stood for William Godwin, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley. When Mary submitted the work to her Father for publication, he refused to publish it based on the fact that he found the central theme of incest to be completely revolting.

Mary wrote Mathilda as a means to distract herself from the grief she was suffering from over the recent deaths of her two children. The dark state of mind she was in when she wrote the text certainly inspired the overall mood and setting of the piece. The writing is incredibly dark and atmospheric, and the first-person narrative could easily be described as a detailed and disturbing psychological case study. It is for this reason, that the reader will accrue no enjoyment from the the text. Mathilda deals with common Romantic themes of incest and suicide; namely the incestuous love a Father harbours for his only daughter, and the impending suicide resulting from his guilt and shame. Withdrawing from society, our protagonist is revisited daily by her ghastly memories and in the end succumbs to suicidal thoughts and spends her days waiting to die.

This is truly one of the most depressing books I have ever had the pleasure to read and review. I will do my best to review something more lighthearted next time.



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