Mathilda by Mary Shelley: An Intertextual Analysis
Even before P.B. Shelley’s drowning, Mary Shelley’s first stay in Italy was marred by the death of her two children (Clara Everina died in September 1818, while William passed away in June 1819), and by her subsequent estrangement from her husband, held partially responsible for her inconsolable loss. In the Summer of 1819, while she was sojourning in Villa Valsovano (near Leghorn), Mary Shelley occupied herself with the composition of a novella entitled Mathilda, which she completed in a very short time. The only copy of her manuscript (a story dealing with the theme of a father-daughter incest) was immediately sent to Godwin, who was supposed to superintend its publication. Nonetheless, Mathilda was not published until well after the writer’s death, in 1959, nor was the manuscript ever returned, despite Mary’s requests. Up until recent years, the novella has received little critical attention; moreover, most of the scholars engaged in the analysis of the text have chosen a strictly biographical approach, focusing on the complex and troublesome relationship between Mary Shelley and her family members. Conversely, this paper aims at offering an intertexual investigation of the text, connecting it with her debut novel Frankenstein, and with Proserpine (a verse drama published immediately after Mathilda), thus demonstrating that, far from merely mirroring her life events, Mathilda can be regarded as a landmark of Mary Shelley’s career as a writer.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Elisabetta Marino, "Mathilda by Mary Shelley: An Intertextual Analysis", in "Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere 23 (2018)", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2018, pp. 49-65
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