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Review (Baldrick, Chris. (1987). In Frankenstein's Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-Century Writing. Oxford: Oxfor - Book Report/Review Example

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Book review –In Frankenstein's Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-Century Writing. The book “In Frankenstein’s Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-Century Writing” by Chris Baldick is an application of structuralist theory to literary criticism and historical research, and includes an extensive review of the symbolic content of Victorian literature as it relates to the social developments of the era…
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Book review (Baldrick, Chris. (1987). In Frankensteins Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-Century Writing. Oxford: Oxfor
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Download file to see previous pages The result is a detailed re-contextualization of Romantic literature within the framework of historical interpretation, making “In Frankenstein’s Shadow” an excellent reference source for further reading on the topic by students of history, English literature, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and mythology. Baldick’s thesis in the book “In Frankenstein’s Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-Century Writing” can be summarized in the passage where he writes: “Books themselves behave monstrously towards their creators, running loose from authorial intention and turning to mock their begetters by displaying a vitality of their own. 'Unluckily', writes Freud, ‘an author’s creative power does not always obey his will: the work proceeds as it can, and often presents itself to the author as something independent or even alien’1 There is a sense in which all writing must do this, but with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein the process goes much further. This novel manages to achieve a double feat of self-referentiality, both its composition and its subsequent cultural status miming the central moments of its own story. Like the monster it contains, the novel is assembled from dead fragments to make a living whole, and as a published work, it escapes Mary Shelley’s textual frame and acquires its independent life outside it, as a myth.” (30) Baldick shows how the “alien” relates to the shadow aspects of society through the creation of monsters in Victorian literature. He invokes Freud and Levi-Strauss in building the structuralist interpretation of the milieu, using a psychological method of interpretation to apply to the symbols of the literature. The work is a good source for students in the field to review as a model of academic research and literary criticism. Historians will find depth in the ideas presented as they relate to primary source material, cross-referenced for accuracy and interpreted through the lens of the prominent ideologies of the time. Post-modernists will enjoy the de-constructive elements of the critique, and see it as an inspiration for further research in literary criticism. In this regard, Baldick succeeds in producing a detailed work of scholarship that analyzes the relation of cultural symbols to myth, and it is valuable even in the political context of understanding how the “alien” and “other” can be portrayed as monstrous in mass-media. As the title suggests, the author is searching for the “Shadow” in Victorian literature as a psychological archetype. While this suggests affinity with the research of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, who chart the appearance of psychological archetypes across the mytho-poetic expression of cultures in numerous works, such as Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” and “The Masks of God” series, Baldick follows the structuralist logic of Levi-Strauss with an emphasis on the political and social aspects of interpretation, proceeding from the philosophical establishment of “Frankenstein” as an expression of mythology in modernism to a discussion on the influence this story had over other writers. He reviews the work of Conrad and Melville ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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