The Man Who Wrote
by John Lauritsen (2007, 232 pp., illustrations, appendices,
bibliography, pb.; publ. Pagan Press, Dorchester Mass., ISBN
Reviewed by Tom Elliott
Book Review Editor
You read it right, the man.
So you bought into the myth that an uneducated teenaged girl
wrote a book that ranks among the world's greatest classics? Not
according to John, who has written a fascinating book of literary
sleuthing that makes three claims: (1) Frankenstein is not a
“scary story” that grew out of telling tales around a
campfire, but a great work of profound and radical ideas,
consistently underrated and misinterpreted, (2) the real author
of Frankenstein is Percy Bysshe Shelley, not Mary Wollstonecraft
Shelly [née Godwin], his second wife, and (3) male love,
in the form of romantic male friendship, is the dominant theme.
Although he uses extra-textual evidence as well, his main focus
is on the text, arguing that if one compares it to the writings
of Shelley and those of Mary in terms of quality and style, there
is no doubt who is the true author. But, being as firmly
entrenched in academia and the public psyche as it is, the Mary
Shelley legend will probably continue.