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Women's Literary Networks and Romanticism"A Tribe of Authoresses"$
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Andrew O. Winckles and Angela Rehbein

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940605

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781786940605.001.0001

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Mary Shelley and Sade’s Global Network

Mary Shelley and Sade’s Global Network

(p.245) Chapter Nine Mary Shelley and Sade’s Global Network
Women's Literary Networks and Romanticism

Rebecca Nesvet

Liverpool University Press

Since the 1930s, critics have assumed that Frankenstein’s allusions to Donatien-Antoine-François Sade's controversial novel Justine are somehow accidental. This essay contends that Mary Shelley in fact had profound knowledge not necessarily of Justine, but of Sade’s tale ‘Eugénie de Franval’, which concludes his multivolume compilation Les Crimes de l’amour(1800). This tale anticipates many aspects of Mary Shelley’s two earliest novels, Frankenstein and Mathilda; too many to be ‘coincidental’. The ‘Eugénie de Franval’ character Monsieur Clervil anticipates Frankenstein’s Henry Clerval, while Mathilda can be read as a variation on ‘Eugénie de Franval’. Mary Shelley’s debt to Sade complicates the longstanding interpretation of his nineteenth-century global network of literary protégés as a gentleman’s club and reveals a great deal about her performance as a reader and self-fashioning as an author.

Keywords:   Mary Shelley, Sade, Frankenstein, Mathilda, Mario Praz, incest, French literature, network, de Beauvoir, Réage

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