Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I don't know why it is, but getting ready and leaving home always causes me quite a bit of stress. I procrastinate and avoid and then end up running around madly. I will have to spend more time examining this and trying to be conscious as it doesn't really help out anybody.

We are a bit on edge anyway today because our little Albert is not feeling too well. He didn't come in to noodge me for a walk at all yesterday, nor did he do his usual greeting dance. M took him to the vet early today, so I am waiting to hear his prognosis.

The engine light on the Honda has gone off again for the last couple of times I have driven it, but I am pretty sure that does not mean the problems diagnosed do not exist. I don't really know what to make of that. I was going to take the train today, but, yet again, I decided to drive. What a wuss I am.

My sweet peeps, Emmylou and Rodney.
But my lil' paper on Frankenstein is posted. I had so much trouble with Victor this time that I really couldn't see much of anything else. My thesis was that VF was the pro-type for the self-involved, self-obsessed male that we (and I use that term loosely) laugh at in all the bro/buddy comedies. A serious manchild (here's a nice one from The Onion on this topic). This week, on to Poe and Hawthorne. Wonder if I'll be able to find any Poe around here ... (Laugh from the audience ... J [aka Jack Alcott] wrote a Poe novel and there are pictures of Edgar Allen Poe all about the house).

Onward to shower, packing, and Queens. Maybe tonight I will write more about Joan Dye Gussow and Julia Della Croce, who was another dinner guest.

Oh the best news is that the new Emmylou Harris-Rodney Crowell cd, Old Yellow Moon, arrived yesterday and it is sublime. The title song is one of the weakest on the album. As I wrote to S last night upon my first listen, Back When We Were Beautiful will take you out at the knees.

Counting down the days!

For the hell of it, here's my essay (and by the by, we have to write an essay under 320 words. It's not easy to say anything in that limited amount of space).

Foremost among Shelley’s remarkable achievements in Frankenstein must be the figure of Victor (henceforth, VF), a prototype of self-involved, self-obsessed male characters: manchildren. VF’s descendants include Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Humbert Humbert in Lolita and anything with Will Farrell. These men do what they will, follow their interests and passions with little to no self-awareness, while they wreck havoc and destruction on those near and dear to them.  
Though many times VF boasts of his devotion to humankind and philanthropy, self-reference and preservation generally shine through his declarations. So little self-awareness does VF possess that shortly after he reunites with his “monster” after the deaths of William and Justine, he declares … “You may render me the most miserable of men, but you shall never make me base in my own eyes.” That his primary impulse here is preservation of his own self-regard demonstrates his fathomless immaturity.
Marks of maturity include care, acknowledgement and responsibility for others (“I knew well therefore what would be my father’s feelings, but I could not tear my thoughts from my employment”). He does not visit his family for years; he leaves his fiancĂ©e to wait, not even bothering with regular communication. And all the while he exults himself with aggrandizing nonsense. He prides himself on his pride: “I am no coward to bend beneath words.”
VF exhorts Walton and crew to continue his quest. On his deathbed, he declares “During these last days I have been occupied in examining my past conduct; nor do I find it blamable.”
Perhaps this level of relentless egotism was a by-product of, a reaction to loss of personal power or a kind of anonymity that occurred with the rise of industrialism. In all of these readings, from Grimm to Shelley we see a range of questions and issues about identity and a character’s place in the world.


  1. Nice commentary --especially your last paragraph about loss of personal power due to anonymity. I think we are affected by the opposite malady in lieu of the rise of social media. Everyone is a star -- everyone wins the prize. Egos abound. Snookie rules.

  2. I enjoyed reading your essay... interesting perspective on a classic and enjoyed the thought-provoking "manchild" and "anonymity" via industrialism comments.