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Beyond the Picturesque and the Sublime : Mary Shelley’s Approach to Nature in the Novels Frankenstein and Lodore

Abstract : It is somewhat striking that Mary Shelley's moment of high personal creativity , the summer of 1816, should have coincided with a climatic catastrophe of worldwide proportions, the eruption of the Indonesian volcano Tambora.¹ 9 One could be tempted to associate the ravages caused by the creature with the deaths provoked by the "year without a summer" in which Frankenstein was written. In fact, Mary Shelley's fiction-perhaps because of the climactic changes she witnessed-reveals a complex approach to the natural world that invites an ecocritical reading. This may be, however, this paper takes up Ralph Pite's invitation to re-contextual-ize any ecocritical approach by taking into consideration the complex approaches to nature, theoretical and practical, that were available to a nineteenth century female writer. As he claims, "In order to have an ecological literature, we need to develop an ecological idea of reading both for history and for texts. For the Romantics to be green, we will need to read them in a green way" (359). As a woman who travelled extensively throughout Eu-rope, Mary Shelley noted in her diaries and letters the changing landscape that caught her imagination. This article claims that these impressions played an important role in shaping her fiction. By focusing on two novels, Frankenstein (1818) and Lodore (1835), situated respectively at the beginning and at the end of her narrative production, this article will outline the evolution of Shelley's discourse on nature and the landscape. The picturesque and the sublime in Frankenstein The British Romantic approach to the natural world is dominated by a pictorial stance: poets and novelists often share with travel writers the search 1 On this subject see the study by Gillian D'Arcy Wood, Tambora, The Eruption that Changed the World (2014) (Kindle edition).
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Antonella Braida. Beyond the Picturesque and the Sublime : Mary Shelley’s Approach to Nature in the Novels Frankenstein and Lodore. Eger Journal of English Studies, Eszterházy Károly Főiskola Anglisztika Tanszék, 2016, pp.27 - 43. ⟨hal-02319146⟩



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