From Shelley's biography...
Posted by Patricia Bingham on April 07, 1998 at 14:17:09:
In response to ghost stories & vampyres., written by P. Bingham on April 02, 1998 at 21:15:29
Here is what I have in my Mary Shelley biography by Emily W. Sunstein:
"Mary was also the favorite of Polidori, whom she treated with teasingly affectionate firmness: 'Mrs. S. called my her younger brother' he noted dismally. He ws clever, handsome, and interesting in regard to science and phsychological phenomena, but so unstable and offensive that Byron was to fire him in the fall. As for many contemporary young men, Byron was his role model, but he couod not come up to the mark. One afternoon as Mary was climbing up to Diodati he was incited by Byron to leap from the famous balcony to offer her his arm, an ingloriously sprained his ankle. When the poets decided to sail around the lake (the Shelley' and Lord Byron), he became suicidally distraught.
While May was expanding with such provocations, they also undoubtedly turned her inward, to her birth, which had killed her mother in just a stormy season; to her pototypical genious-father; to Harriet Shelley (Shelley's first wife who killed herself). The excitement intensified during the week of June 16. One the 16th Chapuis was caught at Diodati by a wild downpour and spent the night. They all gathered at the fireplace and read allowed a German book of ghost stories translated into french, Fantasmagoriana, ou Recueil d'histoires d'apparitions de spectres, revenants, fantomes, etc. From the introduction's reference to the occult in Scotland that had fascinated Mary in adolescence, the contents probed to her quick. In "La Morte fiances," a man who abandoned his beloved for another girl is killed by her pursuing ghost. In "Le Revenant," a girl who married against her father's will loses her baby and is abandoned by her husband.
A group of travelers in "Les Portraits de Famille" relate ghostly encounters they have had, and this inspired Byron to propose that they each write a ghostly story. "You and I", he told Mary, "will publish our together." At this thrillin gprospect Mary set herself to think of a story that would "speak to the mysterious fears of our nature" and prove her worthy of her parent (whom were Mary Waolstencraft & William Godwin). Next day helley started a tale; Byron read the beginning of his own. "The ghost-stories are begun by all but me," Polidori goaded himself, apparently meaning all the men. Keeping up the "ghostly" tone near the following midnight, Byron recited Christobel, to Mary a peticization of her own childhood situation, but Shelley suddenly "saw" Mary as the villainess with eyes for nipples (possibly balming Mary for seducing him from Harriet - which is not actually true, they were already quite broken up) and ran screaming from the room. Mary quietly left Polidori, the professional, to calm Shelley, but this attribution of monstrosity and guilt made its mark.
The poets dropped their strories, but Mary persisted and became the houseparty joke. "Have you thought of a story?" they asked each day, to which she had to reply "with a mortifying negative." Her ambitions and her value were at stake, however, and she focused that pressure on her failure, determined to break it. One June 22 Byron and Shelley were to leave to sail around the lake, perhaps adding to Shelley's anxiety; Shelley who could not swim, would come close to drowning in a storm. The night before their departure the company speculated on a subject Mary may have brought up from de Stael's De l'Allemagne: whether the principle of life could be discovered and whether scientists couold ngalvanize a corpse of manufactured humanoid. When Mary went to bed, still worrying about her ghost story, she had a "waking"hynagogic nightmare:
I saw the pale student of hallowed arts kneeling besdie the thing that her had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretcvhed out, then, on the owrking of some powerful engine, show signs of life...His success would terrify the artist, he would rush away...hope that...this thing...would subside into dead matter...he opens his eyes; behold the horrid thing stands at his bedside, opening his curtains...
Opening her eyes in terror, Mary tried to shake off the dream, thought again about her failed ghost story, and realized that she had found it...
I also have P. Shelley's bio but it doesn't go into more detail than this one.
] Mary, however, became entranced with the idea of a man-made monster, an idea that haunted her night and day, and was eventually to result in her 1818 masterpiece Frankenstein. The subject became too agitating for the sensitive Shelley. One night Byron repeated the lines of Coleridge's Chritabel (a poem Byron had persuaded Murray to publish), describing the witch's breast: "hideous, deformed, and pale of hue". Byron had an enormous dramatic gift, and this time his chilling tones were more than effective. Shelley ran from the room, reviving only after they had thrown cold water on him. He described how he had imagined a woman whose breasts had eyes instead of nipples."
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