Mary Shelley movie - trailer

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Mary Shelley movie - trailer

Postby Saturn » Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:44 pm

"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: Mary Shelley movie - trailer

Postby Ravenwing » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:45 pm

One of my thoughts whilst watching that trailer for a second time:

Did Mary Shelley keep Percy's heart in the hope that someday it could be transplanted into a corpse, and then reanimated, so that he could love her once again?

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Re: Mary Shelley movie - trailer

Postby Saturn » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:56 pm

No, don't think so, that's a bit far fetched. Mary was a very rational and scientifically curious, and learned person. She didn't actually believe that what Frankenstein was able to achieve in her novel could, or should actually be done - that's kind of the point of the whole book...

Also, from what I've read Byron just fished any old organ out of Shelley's remain as they were burning. It was probably part of his liver or another organ apart from the heart. We'll never know, it was buried with her.
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Re: Mary Shelley movie - trailer

Postby Ravenwing » Fri Apr 27, 2018 1:53 pm

Actually, it was Edward Trelawny, and not Byron, who did the deed. He later wrote a book titled "Recollections of the last days of Shelley and Byron (1858)", which can be downloaded here: https://archive.org/details/recollectionsofl00trel

This is an excerpt from that book:

Recollections of the last days of Shelley and Byron (1858), by Edward Trelawny, pages 135 to 138:

"Three white wands had been stuck in the sand to mark the Poet's grave, but as they were at some distance from each other, we had to cut a trench thirty yards in length, in the line of the sticks, to ascertain the exact spot, and it was nearly an hour before we came upon the grave.

"In the mean time Byron and Leigh Hung arrived in the carriage, attended by soldiers, and the Health Officer, as before. The lonely and grand scenery that surrounded us so exactly harmonized with Shelley's genius, that I could imagine his spirit soaring over us. The sea, with the islands of Gorgona, Capraji, and Elba, was before us; old battlemented watch-towers stretched along the coast, backed by the marble-crested Apennines glistening in the sun, picturesque from their diversified outlines, and not a human dwelling was in sight. As I thought of the delight Shelley felt in such scenes of loneliness and grandeur whilst living, I felt we were no better than a herd of wolves or a pack of wild dogs, in tearing out his battered and naked body from the pure yellow sand that lay so lightly over it, to drag him back to the light of day; but the dead have no voice, nor had I power to check the sacrilege—the work went on silently in the deep and unresisting sand, not a word was spoken, for the Italians have a touch of sentiment, and their feelings are easily excited into sympathy. Even Byron was silent and thoughtful. We were startled and drawn together by a dull hollow sound that followed the blow of a mattock; the iron had struck a skull, and the body was soon uncovered. Lime had been strewn on it; this, or decomposition, had the effect of staining it of a dark and ghastly indigo colour. Byron asked me to preserve the skull for him; but remembering that he had formerly used one as a drinking-cup, I was determined that Shelley's should not be so profaned. The limbs did not separate from the trunk, as in the case of Williams's body, so that the corpse was removed entire into the furnace. I had taken the precaution of having more and larger pieces of timber, in consequence of my experience of the day before of the difficulty of consuming a corpse in the open air with our apparatus. After the fire was well kindled we repeated the ceremony of the previous day; and more wine was poured over Shelley's dead body than he had consumed during his life. This with the oil and salt made the yellow flames glisten and quiver. The heat from the sun and fire was so intense that the atmosphere was tremulous and wavy. The corpse fell open and the heart was laid bare. The frontal bone of the skull, where it had been struck with the mattock, fell off; and, as the back of the head rested on the red-hot bottom bars of the furnace, the brains literally seethed, bubbled, and boiled as in a cauldron, for a very long time.

"Byron could not face this scene, he withdrew to the beach and swam off to the "Bolivar." Leigh Hunt remained in the carriage. The fire was so fierce as to produce a white heat on the iron, and to reduce its contents to grey ashes. The only portions that were not consumed were some fragments of bones, the jaw, and the skull, but what surprised us all, was that the heart remained entire. In snatching this relic from the fiery furnace, my hand was severely burnt; and had any one seen me do the act I should have been put into quarantine."


Yes, there is the late 19th century theory that it was not Percy's heart which Mary Shelley held onto for many decades and until the very last of her living days. The following link leads to an article from 1885 in the NY Times, stating, as you did point out, that it might have been Percy's liver which was retrieved from the fire: https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesm ... 782157.pdf

However, during the mid-20th century Arthur M. Z. Norman did question the validity of that theory, and thus he did postulate otherwise. In the process, he shed new light onto the cause of "Percy's hypochondriacal troubles": https://academic.oup.com/jhmas/article- ... edFrom=PDF

Journal of the History of Medicine (1955), by Arthur M. Z. Norman, page 114:

"The Shelley scholar is aware of Shelley's hypochondriacal troubles; Shelley's unburnable heart suggests a physical basis for some of his complaints. It seems very probable that Shelley suffered from a progressively calcifying heart, which might have caused diffuse symptoms with its increasing weight of calcium and which indeed would have resisted cremation as readily as a skull, a jaw, or fragments of bone. Shelley's heart, epitome of Romanticism, may well have been a heart of stone."


That NY Times article does beg the question: If Percy's liver was "saturated with sea water", then why couldn't it be supposed that his heart was, too?

When Percy's calcified heart or liver was finally laid to rest, it was buried with his son, as after Mary Shelley's funeral and before their son's death, it was discovered that she had kept it in a drawer of her writing desk.

After having watched the "Mary Shelley" trailer for a third time, I noticed it portrayed her as having smoked what seemed to be opium. I have yet to find a DVD copy of "Bright Star", though I hope to do so. Did that film portray Keats as having smoked opium, too? The movie "Total Eclipse" portrayed Rimbaud and Verlaine as each having drank absinthe and smoked hashish.

In regards to the new "Mary Shelley" film itself, its director is a female film director from Saudi Arabia, which is a horribly oppressive country towards women and non-Muslims. As a female director, she suffered from worse discrimination in Saudi Arabia than Mary Shelley did as a female novelist in England hundreds of years ago. It will probably be interesting to perceive her "Mary Shelley" movie, in part, as a criticism of the evil that is Islamic authoritarianism.

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Re: Mary Shelley movie - trailer

Postby CasaMagni » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:45 pm

Unfortunately, Trelawny was such an unreliable witness that we do not know to what degree his account of the cremation is true or not.

Branching off a little, Guido Biagi's 1893 book The Last Days of Shelley contains interviews with some local inhabitants of Viareggio, who could allegedly remember the episode. But since it was common practice for those washed up on shore to be cremated (afaik) I wonder how they could distinguish between the ceremony involving the Englishmen and those others which may have taken place...

As for the movies, I'm not a big fan. Dramatic licence tends to diverge from the truth, so I generally avoid.
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Re: Mary Shelley movie - trailer

Postby Saturn » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:47 pm

Ah of course, it was Trelawny, the 19th century Walter Mitty.

I've read and own 'The last days of Shelley and Byron' and that in itself is like a really over the top Hollywood movie.

Hard to trust anything Trelawny said, but I was basing my theory of Shelley's 'heart' from the research in Miranda Seymour's excellent biography of Mary Shelley.
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