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New Publication: Mathilda

Mary Shelley’s novel Mathilda may not be as well known as her earlier novel Frankenstein, but for associate professor Michelle Faubert (English, Theatre, Film & Media) it has become a most important work. Faubert has recently published a new critical edition of the novel for Broadview Press. This edition encourages scholarly reconsideration of a novel that has often been stereotyped as biographical, and explores its greater importance to Romantic debates about suicide.

The novel is the story of one woman’s existential struggle after learning of her father’s incestuous desire for her. In fact, Mathildaand Frankenstein share many thematic characteristics: both concern parental abandonment; both contribute to the Gothic form through themes of incest, insanity, suicidality, monstrosity, and isolation; and both are written in the form of a series of letters. However, Mathilda was not published until 1959, 140 years after Shelley wrote it—in part because Shelley’s own father, William Godwin, suppressed it.

Critics have applauded this Broadview Press paperback edition saying it helps to make a primarily neglected text widely available to both scholars and the public, likely becoming the standard classroom text for the study of the original novel. Faubert provides extensive contextual material in her critical introduction and appendices, which include contemporary sources on Romantic-era suicide debates, biographical details about Shelley and her family, and discussions of incest themes in the Gothic genre. Excerpts of works by Mary Wollstonecraft (Shelley’s mother), William Godwin, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley (Shelley’s husband), and others add perspective and depth to the text of the novel itself.

Faubert holds a SSHRC Insight Grant in Romanticism and Revolutionary Suicide and has previously edited Mary, A Fiction and the The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria by Mary Wollstonecraft (2012) and authored Rhyming Reason: The Poetry of Romantic-Era Psychologists (The Enlightened World) (2009) among others.


Mathilda by Mary Shelley
Edited by Michelle Faubert
Broadview Press, 2017
$17.95 print, $12.95 PDF or ePub
Available online.

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