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By Judith Butler, Shoshana Felman, Barbara Johnson

In 1980, deconstructive and psychoanalytic literary theorist Barbara Johnson wrote an essay on Mary Shelley for a colloquium at the writings of Jacques Derrida. The essay marked the start of Johnson's lifelong curiosity in Shelley in addition to her first foray into the sector of 'women's studies,' one among whose commitments was once the rediscovery and research of works through girls writers formerly excluded from the tutorial canon. certainly, the final e-book Johnson accomplished sooner than her loss of life was once Mary Shelley and Her Circle, released the following for the 1st time. Shelley was once hence the topic for Johnson's starting in feminist feedback and likewise for her finish. it truly is astounding to keep in mind that after Johnson wrote her essay, basically of Shelley's novels have been in print, critics and students having in most cases brushed off her writing as inferior and her profession as an aspect influence of her well-known husband's. encouraged by way of groundbreaking feminist scholarship of the seventies, Johnson got here to pen but extra essays on Shelley over the process an excellent yet tragically foreshortened profession. loads of what we all know and consider Mary Shelley at the present time is because of her and a handful of students operating simply a long time in the past. during this quantity, Judith Butler and Shoshana Felman have united all of Johnson's released and unpublished paintings on Shelley along their very own new, insightful items of feedback and people of 2 different friends and fellow pioneers in feminist thought, Mary Wilson wood worker and Cathy Caruth. The e-book hence evolves as a talk among key students of shared highbrow dispositions whereas last the circle on Johnson's lifestyles and her personal fascination with the existence and circle of one other lady author, who, after all, additionally occurred to be the daughter of a founding father of smooth feminism

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Extra resources for A Life with Mary Shelley (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics)

Example text

Barbara Johnson This question of man suspended between life and death returns us finally to that second untimely meditation of Mary Shelley—untimely for her time but ardently timely for our own—namely, her other novel entitled precisely The Last Man. While Frankenstein was the story of the one who was superfluous in the world of men, The Last Man is the story of the one who is superfluous in a world without men. It’s the story of the one who remains. Now, what does this remainder of humanity signify in relation to the question of the ends of man?

But this pitiless demystification is narrated as a series of privations and unendurable sorrows. At each step, one loses again a fatherland which never existed. The story of The Last Man is in the last analysis the story of modern Western man torn between mourning and deconstruction. In a certain sense, one can say that modern literature begins with this end of man, at the moment when the last man leaves Rome without knowing what language to speak to it. It is interesting to note that in the novel by Maurice Blanchot also entitled The Last Man, one no longer finds any traditional narrative landmarks.

Clearly, great pains have been taken to let as many seams as possible show in the fabric of the argument. The preface goes on: I mention these limitations in a spirit not of apology but of warning. To the extent that it succeeds in communicating its point at all, this book will necessarily enrage the reader. What it says is emotionally threatening. ) (p. ix; emphasis mine) My book is roughly sutured, says Dinnerstein, and it is threatening. This description sounds uncannily like a description of Victor Frankenstein’s monster.

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