I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut the last few weeks. Whenever that happens, I usually turn to reading something completely different from my usual picks to give myself a bit of a break, which is how I came to pull my recently acquired copy of the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein off the shelf this week. I’ve never read Frankenstein before, but it has been on my list for quite awhile. By a strange work of fate, I unknowingly picked up this book for the first time within days of Shelley’s 221 birthday and during the year marking the book’s 200th anniversary.
I often feel a personal connection to women writers of ages past that I have never once experienced while reading a man’s work. They feel somehow more real to me. While reading Frankenstein, I am acutely aware that I am reading words penned by a woman who lived and died over a century ago. She sat hunched over a desk and created the world of Victor Frankenstein the same way I sit in coffee shops creating worlds of my own, and now, 200 years later I’m curled up in my bed reading her words and leaving my own in the margins. This is what I love most about stories, and why I am so determined to read the words of as many women as possible. The experience is more than reading words on a page; I’m having a conversation with my metaphorical ancestor, with a woman who helped lay the stone of the path I’m now walking. She’s reaching out and speaking through words written 200 years ago. She lives a breaths in the bound pages of my paperback.
Maybe that all sounds very dramatic, but it’s how I experience it. I have always felt a very real connection to women of the past, a sort of spiritual sisterhood if you will, but it has been awhile since I’ve really tapped into it. I’m grateful to Mary Shelley for inviting me back into the conversation, and I cannot help but feel like the universe pushed me into her path.
Happy birthday Mary Shelley. It was a long overdue introduction, but it is great to have finally made your acquaintance.