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author of Frankenstein.
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There could hardly be a work more different from Mary Shelley’s iconic Frankenstein than this powerful exploration of a teenage girl’s innocent affection for her father, only to be betrayed by his far darker feelings for her—subject matter that may account for Mathilda remaining unpublished in Mary Shelley’s own lifetime, to be rediscovered in the 1950s.
Written as a first-person narrative, Mathilda takes the form of a series of flashbacks in which the narrator tells of her unhappy childhood in the care of an unloving aunt after the death of her mother; her joy at being reunited with her long-absent father; and his devastating revelation, which is to alter her life for ever. She writes, “Unlawful and detestable passion had poured its poison into my ears and changed my blood, so it was no longer the kindly stream that supports life but a cold fountain of bitterness corrupted in its very source.”
Yet even after she has found some solace in the solitude and anonymity of a remote country home, Mathilda’s feelings toward her father seem to become increasingly ambivalent—and her emotions grow more complex when she meets and begins falling in love with a famous and charismatic poet (Mary was married to Percy Byshe Shelley).
Mathilda’s increasing difficulty in resolving this extraordinary ménage à trois brings further tragedy, with a dénoument that is both unexpected and moving.
This 2011 edition, produced entirely inhouse by eBook Versions, has been respectfully and sympathetically edited with a light touch. The (often tortuous) Victorian punctuation, phrasing and classical alliterations of the original, unedited manuscript have been recast to produce a version more accessible to today's reader, while never detracting from the integrity of Mary Shelley’s original prose.
Additional content also exclusive to this edition includes biographical notes and a preface explaining the extraordinary circumstances in which Mathilda, although written by one of the 19th century’s most famous female authors, was kept from the public for more than 130 years.
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