A d v e r t i s e m e n t
In both the 1818 and 1831 editions of Frankenstein, Victor
says that he first saw the white cliffs of England in late December
and arrived in England in early October. On page 217 of The
Essential Frankenstein, Mr. Wolf writes, “Readers attempting to
keep track of Victor’s calendar must decide here which date to
accept.” He then gives his own preference and promises to continue
to work with the October date. This commitment, however, is
forgotten in Appendix D of his book, where his chronology gives
December as the time of Victor’s arrival in England.
Readers who have adopted Walton are more interested in his
well-being and success than they are interested in Victor’s calendar.
It worries them that Uncle Bob does not ask why Victor did not
arrive in England until nine months after having first sighted its
white cliffs on a clear morning in the latter days of December. In
the 1818 edition, shortly before Victor asks Uncle Bob to destroy
the person he claims to have created, he says that Clerval, in a letter
to Victor in the Orkneys, reminds his friend that nearly a year had
elapsed since the two of them had left Switzerland. In the 1831
edition, as though Victor has discovered this discrepancy, he omits
Clerval’s reference to the amount of time that does not square with
his own account. At the same time, however, he suggests Clerval
would have been interested in Uncle Bob’s discovery of a shorter
route to the Pacific Ocean. It is odd that Victor didn’t mention
Clerval’s Indian enterprise before, but then again, perhaps not.
After all, Uncle Bob offered no suggestion that there is a shorter
route to England from Rotterdam than the one Victor took! The
discrepancies of this kind in Victor’s story, which suggest that it is
a fabrication, are discoverable in the minds of the Saville children.
This aspect of Mary Shelley’s machinery is designed to point out
the flaws of political parties and associations, as described by her
father in Political Justice. Organizations are usually not very good
at liberating the things that matter most from the tyranny of things
that matter less. Contradictions are overlooked for the sake of
preservation of the organization. Being a part of an organization
tends to limit the ability of the individual to think, to discover ways
in which knowledge already in hand may be used to solve problems.
“Organized religion” is all too often not religious in the sense of the
word that truly distinguishes it from superstition.
56 [Next][Exit tour]
To a Candid World, Copyright 1998, Thomas Wolfsehr publisher