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Reviews

Mary Shelley, The Last Man. Ed. Anne McWhir. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Books, 1996. ISBN: 1-55111-076-8. Price: £9.50Mary Shelley, Lodore. Ed. Lisa Vargo. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Books, 1997. ISBN: 1-55111-077-6. Price: £9.50

  • Nora Crook

…plus d’informations

  • Nora Crook
    Anglia Polytechnic University, Cambridge

Corps de l’article

Here are two titles from the imaginative and risk-taking Broadview Books, the Canadian publishing house which has made a considerable investment in lesser-known works of lesser-known eighteenth and nineteenth-century novelists. At present their problem is getting known. Broadview titles are not to be seen in every academic bookshop; their address in the UK is a book distribution firm (Turpin of Letchworth) only. So their fame in Britain has largely travelled by word of mouth and through the Canadian firm's readiness to send publicity material and sample copies direct to conferences events when asked to do so. Coverage is still patchy, however; for instance, there was no Broadview stand at the recent 1798 conference at Strawberry Hill.

It is to be hoped that Broadview will soon acquire enough momentum to be seen all over the place, for, with all due respects to Penguin and Oxford World Classics, the imprint is a very welcome addition to the market. Their books are well-produced (they seem to be just as sturdy as Norton paperbacks) and though they cost a little more than their rivals, they are still very affordable.

Many of the items on Broadview's list originally appeared in three volumes for the circulating libraries. Never were novels more easy and attractive to read than those expensive productions. Those delightful small octavos! The wide margins, generous leading, strong paper! How the eye raced over print, especially after c.1805, when the long s was pensioned off. Nine hundred pages gone in a flash! With such luxury, no wonder early nineteenth-century novel-readers were so voracious. We shall not look upon their like again. But, as Wordsworth says in Tintern Abbey,

Other gifts
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompense.

Broadview's modern and uncluttered layout, while never looking 'in period' or attempting to be a quasi-facsimile (in the manner of Chapman's Oxford Jane Austen), tends not to make changes for changes sake, at least among those that I have handled, such as uniformly ending with 'FINIS' to conform with house-style where the original had 'THE END'. This is a trifling matter, but it inspires confidence. Moreover, meticulousness in small things is carried on up the line to the important ones. Admittedly, I am not enamoured about Broadview's use of old photographs on covers. The publishers say that these are consciously anachronistic in order to suggest the works 'may relate to periods other than that from which they emerged—including our own era' (endmatter to Lodore). Hm. It works for Frankenstein, but using a photograph of 1855 to epitomise a work of 1835 does nothing for my multi-perspectivism, and, I fear, the effect will be lost on many undergraduates, for whom the nineteenth-century tends to be an undifferentiated stretch of time. The wonderful engraved frontispiece to Godwin's Essay on Sepulchres would have made an far more evocative cover to The Last Man than a photograph of a Victorian tourist mooching about the Parthenon. That, however, is a cavil. [1]

The format and editorial policy of Broadview Books is a sound one, though one can see minor variations between volumes, as, presumably, policy has evolved. (For instance, each chapter of Lodore begins on a new page, as in the original, a luxurious touch absent from The Last Man.) Each volume has an ample historical and critical introduction, and individual editors appear to have been allowed to exercise their initiative within broad guidelines. The explanatory and informative annotation is not wasted on glossing slightly unfamiliar words contained in any reputable college dictionary. Emendation of texts is light; editors prefer to give explanatory footnotes rather than emend the texts (though I notice that there is some silent correction; perhaps Broadview could do with more consistency in this matter). There is an occasional slip-up; for instance, the editor of Anne Plumtre's Something New (1801), unaware of the contemporary idiom, unnecessarily emends 'There was a somewhat repulsive in her manner' to 'There was something repulsive in her manner'. But at least such major changes are responsibly recorded. Finally, there is almost always a good selection of contextual material.

Broadview's investment in the novels of Mary Shelley is to be warmly welcomed. Though they attracted a good deal of notice in their day, being either reviled, like The Last Man, or lauded, like Lodore, they were later dismissed by Trelawny in his 1878 Records as not worth reading ('[M]ore than ordinarily commonplace and conventional') and until the last twenty-five years he has had it mostly his own way, since the texts have been unavailable except to a small handful of specialists who had access to the original editions or to the Folcroft facsimiles of the 1970s (not widely sold or advertised in the UK). The 1996 Pickering Mary Shelley's Novels and Selected Writings (of which I am general editor) made them all accessible to a wider academic public for the first time in the UK, but the price puts the edition beyond the reach of most private buyers (and many academic libraries). If Mary Shelley is to enter the canon as a novelist of the period 1820—1840 rather than as a one-book author, there must be good paperback editions as well.

True, I give only two cheers for Broadview's 1994 Frankenstein (advertised vaingloriously as the Best Edition), which ratcheted up some old canards. It was irritating to see the editors use M. K. Joseph's Oxford edition of the 1831 text as copytext for collating, instead of going back to the original; even the old Dent Everyman text is free of the errors which Joseph introduced; doubly irritating to see them repeat as fact Joseph's claim that the 1823 Frankenstein was 'reprinted from the 1818 plates' when it was a complete resetting, with about 120 minor substantive changes made by Godwin, as E. B. Murray had shown back in 1980; maddening to see them state roundly that Mary Shelley was 'entirely cut out of the production process' by her husband—you can just see the quotation turning up again in a thousand student essays—on the basis of a letter in which she authorised her husband to correct one small portion of the proofs (which she later had the opportunity to revise again anyway). And the disappointment was sharpened by the fact that there is so much that is good about the edition. One would like to recommend it whole-heartedly as a student text. Certainly, its Appendices contain the most focused and useful selection of source material of any version of Frankenstein .

However, with the two titles under review, I have no such reservations. No one who reads these can fail to be impressed by, at the very least, the hard work that has gone into them. But they have more than that; they have that extra inwardness with the works in question, which separates the competent from the inspired editor. I know nothing about the circumstances of how Anne McWhir and Lisa Vargo became editors of these novels, but their work reads as if they sang under Broadview's windows and thumped on its door for the privilege.

McWhir's edition of The Last Man (1826), the first novel Mary Shelley wrote on her return to England, fully recognizes and foregrounds the crucial importance of the author's expressed aims in writing the novel: 'making the scene universal to all mankind and of combining this with a peculiar interest' (MWS Letters, I: 510). McWhir builds on and surpasses the work of previous textual editors, Hugh J. Luke (1965) and Morton Paley (1994). [2]

Like most recent commentators, McWhir is dutifully anxious to distance herself from reductive critics who treat The Last Man primarily as a revelation of Mary Shelley's desolation after P. B. Shelley's death (I wonder who and where such persons are today? Hiding in the woodwork, I'll be bound.) But unlike some other critics (notably Muriel Spark and Betty Bennett) who have stressed the political and philosophical dimensions of the novel, McWhir does not make these the chief focus, perhaps feeling that they have received justice elsewhere. Nor does she read it primarily as a treatment of the 'Last of the Race' theme, which she sees as the more conventional side of the book, though she has clearly researched it, and in has turned up some new sources, such as Leigh Hunt. She is more concerned to show how The Last Man evades categorisation as 'Last Man' fiction, pointing out that in Mary Shelley's work, unlike that of Campbell, Byron and others, loss dominates over horror. Verney presides, finally, not over a city of corpses but 'a depopulated city of statues mocking life' (xx).

McWhir's particular aids to helping us to read the Last Man are, firstly, a bringing forward of apt visual analogues, both of which appear as images within the book itself. What the double portrait is for Frankenstein, the mosaic and the panorama/diorama are for The Last Man. The work, as she presents it, is like a picture composed of minute fragments, put together with at times obsessive care, which make sense only when one stands back and looks at the whole from a distance. (She remarks how often Verney adopts the point of view of looking at a city or a landscape from a height, and seeing it spread out below as a map). Yet it also moves towards looking at history as a series of dissolving views. Like the diorama, 'the novel imposes films and veils between layers of its own reality . . . to reconstruct history as a kind of visionary synchronicity'. Like the diorama, the perspective is shifting and 'includes all points of view and all times and places—or, at least, as many as its author can imagine' (xxvi—xxvii). Secondly, McWhir suggestively develops the theme of gender. It has been often noted that Plague in the novel is female. McWhir, following Steven Goldsmith, [3] pursues the implications of this, dwelling, like him, on the figure of Evadne, whose death is connected with the coming of the plague, teasing out the rich and often conflicting associations of the name. She draws attention to the persistent recurrence of females who disguise themselves in men's clothing, of which the presiding genius is the Sibyl herself, who veils herself behind a male narrator, and whose leaves, deciphered and edited by the ambivalently gendered 'Author' (Mary Shelley the widow? 'The Author of Frankenstein'?), form the text of the actual book, The Last Man.

McWhir also includes the most complete commentary to date upon the remarkable intertextuality of the novel (it contains far more, and more diverse, literary allusions than any of Mary Shelley's other works) and this leads her to some of her most interesting insights. Take, for instance, her examination of Mary Shelley's use of Shakespeare. At the height of the plague, Verney goes to a performance of Macbeth at Drury Lane. It is tempting to think that this is introduced because Mary Shelley had witnessed such a performance and allowed herself the indulgence of mentioning it. But McWhir points out that we are, in Verney's description of the witches' cavern, 'glimps[ing] the Sibyl's cave from another perspective' and foreshadowing the Countess of Windsor's vision of Idris 'pacing clowly towards [a] cave' (xxiii). Again, McWhir comments on the quotation from Shakespeare's Sonnet 63, which Mary Shelley adapts to describe the dead Evadne as follows:

Crushed and o'erworn
The hours had drained her blood, and filled her brow
With lines and wrinkles

'Shelley', McWhir comments, 'changes not only the pronouns but also the verb tense, putting into the past an event that Shakespeare projects onto the future. Shelley's own conflation of past and future and of subject and object is, however, underlined by knowledge of her quotation's source'. Pointing out that Shakespeare addressed his poem to a beautiful young man, McWhir links this quotation to her observations about gender, suggesting that the dead Evadne, disguised in man's attire as a soldier 'is a version of the young man of the sonnets, no longer young and transformed into a woman . . . . An agent of mutability and destruction in a world which looks back longingly to its lost paradise, she is Mary Shelley's alter ego'. But the dying Evadne also recalls the apparition of the bleeding nun in M. G. Lewis's The Monk, who similarly summons a Raymond to join her in the grave (xxv—xxvi).

This might come over in this summary as over-ingenious and strained, but, read in its entirety, McWhir's commentary persuades the reader that this is how the novel works. It weaves a web of associative threads (another powerful metaphor),

. . . so that in the scholarly tracking of sources and analogues the reader learns something about the relation between private grief and the public realm of literary fiction. Reading The Last Man is thus an unusually intense meeting of scholarship and personal recognition (xxii).

Impossible not to think that McWhir is here describing at her own experience of editing the novel and that she has returned, as it were, from the labyrinthine cave of the book to tell us something of what she has discovered. Such involvement, risking the obsessional, raises the question: can one read The Last Man in this way unless one is editing it? McWhir's reply is that every attentive reader is also a creator and an editor. We read in order to become enmeshed in Mary Shelley's 'web of mind' (xxvi)—a web too richly textured for any single editor to disentangle.

Unlike some commentators, McWhir does not quite see The Last Man as ending in utter darkness, though she hedges somewhat on what kind of small chink of light might(be visible. Yet is not the underlying meaning of the book close to Auden's 'Life remains a blessing/ Although you cannot bless'? (my emphasis). As she points out, Verney is frequently foolish and mistaken; he is not a completely reliable narrator. There is much that he does not notice, or turns his back on; for instance (an example not noted by McWhir), when he lays the body of Idris in front of the altar in St George's Chapel, Windsor, he observes the stained glass but not— a detail which a contemporary reader could have picked up on—that it depicts the Resurrection. Is not his greatest mistake the subsuming of Woman into that word 'Man', by which the human race is known as 'mankind'? The rhetoric of the novel forces us to accede to the proposition that Verney is indeed the Last Man, but we are not forced to agree that he is the last human being, unless we too collude with him and identify 'The Last Man' with 'The Last Person'. (Mary Shelley had been going in for such verbal tricks ever since the Creature told Frankenstein 'I will be with you on your wedding night'.) Were he not blinded by this linguistic confusion, which makes women invisible, he might be able to transform the 'hope that is unwilling to be fed' (Wordsworth's marvellous phrase from 'Resolution and Independence') into a willing hope. Somewhere there may be a Pyrrha waiting for his Deucalion, and thus the possibility of the origin of a 'new-sprung race'. [4]

By way of appendices, the edition offers the following: an excellent map; selections from 'Last Man' literature (the expected Byron, Campbell, Hood and Beddoes but also Grainville, author of the 1806 The Last Man or Omegarus and Syderia, a Romance in Futurity , which Mary Shelley probably read after completing her intermediate draft and a 'Last Man' author unfamiliar to me, George Dibdin Pitt; extracts on plague writing from Gibbon, Brockden Brown, John Wilson, and the Westminster Review (very interesting on contemporary debates about whether plague was contagious or air-borne) philosophical passages from Volney, Godwin, Malthus, Wollstonecraft, Burke, P. B. Shelley; Mary Shelley's poems of 1823—24; selections from reviews. I wish only that room had been found for an extract from the Literary Panorama, in which the reviewer remarked on what he considered to be Mary Shelley's undue fondness for 'ornament, ornament, ornament' and images of cradles and cradling (perceptive, if misvaluing).

The annotation is really very good indeed. McWhir has followed up most of the references, suggesting their further significance, and not simply gone to Chadwyck-Healey or a concordance or a classical dictionary and left it at that. Amplification is carefully chosen. She is especially strong in adducing parallel passages from P. B. Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft. She does not simply identify the 'veil. . . invented by Turkish jealousy' (94) from the dictionary, but explains it further, using a source in Lady Mary Montagu's Letters, which Mary Shelley certainly knew. She has delved into C. A. Elton's translations from the classics, and discovered far more evidence of Mary Shelley's reading in him that has hitherto been known, and thus traced 'With mild accost of soothing eloquence' (not in Chadwyck-Healey's poetry data-base). There is one place where I do not think she has identified the exact reference (the one to Curius on page 63, which refers to a passage in Plutarch's Parallel Lives) but Mary Shelley used many sources for her classical references, and it is easy to pick the wrong one. There are only four totally untraced quotations, two of which also similarly gravelled (and still gravel) Jane Blumberg and myself: a 'beautiful sentiment by Plutarch' on the necessity of loving (72) and 'In the midst of despair we performed the tasks of hope' (250). These are very honorable defeats. [5]

There are a few mistakes and a few questionable notes. Beaumont and Fletcher's Maid's Tragedy is called The Bride's Tragedy in the introduction (xxiii), a very understandable inadvertent slip, given Mary Shelley's use of T. L. Beddoes's The Brides' Tragedy. I would also back-track a little on what I said earlier about Broadview's policy being against making unnecessary changes. McWhir corrects 'recal', though this was an acceptable contemporary spelling. She also renumbers the chapters consecutively, changing the original numbering by volume, though she preserves the volume breaks. This seems pointless, and will only create confusion with the two other widely diffused editions (Luke and Paley). (Vargo's Lodore sensibly keeps the existing numbering, correcting only misnumbered chapters.) She does, however, stay her hand when tempted to emend 'refection' to 'reflection' as in 'the hour of repose and refection' (58); 'refection' is found in Sir Thomas Browne and Pope's Iliad, both among Mary Shelley's sources, so this was a wise non-move. And she picks up a misprint that has escaped the attention of all other editors: 'O woman, nurtured, effeminate and contemptible being' where the correct reading is obviously 'O woman nurtured, effeminate and contemptible being' (316). [6]

McWhir's edition is neither the first nor the last word on The Last Man. But it is a first-rate intermediate word. She succeeds, better than any critic I have yet met with, in making The Last Man sound like a book worth reading and rereading at full attention all the way through. Its current reputation is of a diffuse and rambling fiction with some strong ideas which by the third volume suddenly finds its form and rises to impressiveness. Perhaps she will help to change this.

Lisa Vargo's edition of Lodore (1835) is another edition calculated to help transform opinion. [7] Unlike McWhir, Vargo had no previous editor's annotations to build on, and Lodore is almost as wide-ranging in its intertextuality as The Last Man, with quotations taken from (inter alia) Ausias March (a Catalan troubadour), Paul de Kock (contemporary writer of naughty comic novels and a favourite of Peacock), and Sannazaro. Moreover, Lodore has been saddled with the reputation of being the most vapid of Mary Shelley's novels, the one in which she went all out to please a silver-fork novel reading public which wanted unchallenging fiction about ideal heroines in high society. It is also the novel which, even more than The Last Man, lends itself to the interpretation of being disguised autobiography; indeed, as Vargo shows, critics like Dowden and F. L. Jones seemed to have thought that the only value of the novel was the light it shed on P. B. Shelley's life. Like McWhir, Vargo has to tread a fine line between doing justice to autobiographical elements while avoiding the reductive. Like McWhir, too, to establish her starting point, she happily has recourse to Mary Shelley's own remarks on the relationship between art and life : 'The merely copying from our own hearts will no more form a first-rate work of art, than will the most exquisite representation of mountains, water, wood and glorious clouds, form a good painting, if none of the rules of grouping or colouring are followed' (26). Vargo shows that Mary Shelley neither copied from her own heart nor pandered to the public.

Vargo confronts Mary Poovey's influential account (in The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer) of Mary Shelley's succumbing to the disabilities under which female authors worked in the 1830s, arguing that she was more able than Poovey has given her credit for 'to challenge convention from within the confines of the powerful ideology of the "proper lady" . . . . [F]or all of its careful attention to the dictates of the marketplace [Lodore] extends its concerns far beyond commercial considerations' (12—13). Nevertheless, a lively basic account of the 'dictates' emerges from Vargo, as, following Betty T. Bennett, she sketches in some of the features of the 1830s literature industry (the uninitiated may pick up information about how proofs arrived to authors and how professional writers would expand and contract their work in order to fit it into the three-volume format), as well as about Mary Shelley's own many literary activities during the early 1830s. [8]Lodore was the most chaotically published of the six novels. Part of the third volume was lost by Bentley's and had to be rewritten. For reasons that have never been explained, nearly a year elapsed between Mary Shelley's handing in the final press copy and Lodore's publication, while the author wrote anxious letters asking when it would appear. As a result, we know more about her dealing with her publishers than we do for any other novel. [9]

The fact that Lodore won for Mary Shelley the best reviews of her career has heightened the suspicion that the novel must have been a sell-out to fashionable taste. Vargo, however, subjects the reviews to some scrutiny and gives generous selections from some of the chief ones in her Appendix. The contents are sometimes surprising. While the expected bouquets are handed out to Mrs Shelley for her sweet femininity, command of sentiment and knowledge of the human heart etc., etc., praise for her originality, breadth of mind, force and ability to portray both male characters and 'the larger [i.e. non-fashionable] world' also persistently recur. The reviewers seem at pains to point out how unlike the usual run of lady novelists she is. It would seem that Lodore 's popularity was not completely dependent on its conformity to expectations, or else, perhaps, that 'fashionable taste' of the 1830s was not as constricting as has been supposed. Yet there were clearly aspects of Lodore to which her reviewers were not attuned. The remarkable Fanny Derham was ignored by them, while Elizabeth Henry (who does not seem particularly remarkable to us today) was regularly singled out for praise as a touchingly natural portrait of a narrow-minded but kindly spinster lady. Vargo suggests that the reading public was already beginning to feel concerned about the 'superfluous woman', the spinster, and that Lodore had offered a reassuring treatment of what would become, thirty years later, a burning issue. It is an interesting point to ponder; I'm not sure that Vargo has quite got to the bottom of it. Is it not also possible that writers like Jane Austen had established the maiden aunt as a subject worthy of the best efforts of a novelist's pen, and that critics had been sensitised to look particularly keenly at how modern novelists drew such characters, and had taken up to judge them according to their success in this department?

Vargo takes William Walling to task for his thoughtless description of the title as 'inexact' and the book as lacking any unifying principle. She makes the connection between Lord Lodore's name, the celebrated waterfall of the Lake District, the vaster Niagara Falls over which his restless spirit broods at one point, and his impetuous, Byronic nature (a connection made contemporaneously by Leigh Hunt). As for Walling's claim that the eponymous hero's death before the end of the first volume indicates that Mary Shelley had lost sight of her theme, Vargo shows that Walling has missed the entire point. The theme of the book is to generalise, 'the lasting effect of people's actions' or, more specifically, legacy—the legacy of Lord Lodore, in the sense not only of the contents of his legal will but also in the persistence of the results of his headstrong will-to-power in the actions of the characters who survive him (23). This is a brilliant and suggestive insight; Vargo is surely too modest and tentative in her suggestion that 'Mary Shelley may be playing with the double sense of the word [will].'

Vargo perceives the crucial significance of the subtitle that Mary Shelley at one point proposed: 'a tale of the present time'. She adduces some interesting contextualising leads on contemporary attitudes towards duelling, gives full, clear and informative annotations to such terms as 'entail' and 'jointure' and explains the social significance, as well as identifying the locale, of such fashionable London institutions as 'Mivart's Hotel' and 'Almack's'. Other good socio-contextual notes include those on opera and theatres, including the history of theatrical gaslighting. Without being self-indulgently prolix, her notes positively have gusto, as in her including the fact that Bulwer's Paul Clifford is now chiefly known for its first sentence 'It was a dark and stormy night'. Her comments on contemporary English politics (the Reform Bill of 1832, the Emancipation of Slavery debates) are comparatively thin,  [10]but, to compensate, she brings to the book the special insights and interests of a North American. She makes some especially good connections between Lodore's American chapters and Campbell's Gertrude of Wyoming,(1809), Morris Birkbeck's Letters from Illinois (1818), Fenimore Cooper's Notions of the Americans (1828), the foundation of Robert Owen's New Harmony colony, Frances Wright's Nashoba Colony, and Frances Trollope's disillusioning experience of the latter (Mary Shelley managed to be friends with both Franceses). Extracts from several of these figure in the appendices.

There are also generous selections of appended passages from writers on domesticity and women's education—Wollstonecraft's Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, of course, but also examples from the writers of the 1830s: Anna Jameson's Characteristics of Women (1832) and Sarah Stickney Ellis's The Women of England (1839). Quite rightly, Vargo dwells extensively on an aspect of Lodore that has attracted most modern commentators, notably Anne K. Mellor and Bennett: the contrast between the 'sexual' education of Elizabeth and her resulting dependency and pliability, and the Godwinian education given to the stoic and fearless Fanny Derham, one of Mary Shelley's most interesting creations, who fortifies herself by reading Cicero, and whose story 'cannot now be recounted' (448). Fanny enunciates what many have seen as the moral heart of the book: 'Words have more power than any one can guess; it is by words that the world's great fight, now in these civilised times, is carried on; I never hesitated to use them, when I fought any battle for the miserable and oppressed.' (316). By looking at the case of Fanny Derham, Vargo maintains that Lodore has suffered from being read 'though Victorian cultural stereotypes, rather than as advancing a critique from within them' (36), and by 'stereotypes' she means not only those held by Victorians, but our own stereotypical ideas of Victorian construction of bourgeois femininity, in particular, our uncritical fondness for bringing down from on high that very tired dea ex machina, the 'angel in the house', to typify it. She argues that Lodore should be seen as an early example of 'uneven development' (the term is taken from a 1988 work by Mary Poovey), whereby a concept important to a culture (such as 'the feminine') becomes a site of struggle for and contestation of authority, rather than a consolidation of it.

As with The Last Man, there is a low count of unidentified quotations, though one from P. B. Shelley and another from Troilus and Cressida , as well as a few of the harder ones, slipped through Vargo's net. However, she single-handedly found every one of the numerous epigraphs identified by nothing more than 'Beaumont and Fletcher', plus one which Mary Shelley had misleadingly referenced as 'Old Play' though it, too, turned out to be the work of that heroic couple. (Most editors might have concluded that Mary Shelley had, like Scott or George Eliot, made it up, but no example of the pseudo-quotation in her work has yet been found: she probably just forgot in this case.) Beaumont and Fletcher (singly, together and with other collaborators) wrote nearly fifty plays. There is no concordance and the Chadwyck-Healey electronic edition appeared too late to be of help.  [11]The quotations in question are not to be found in Lamb's Specimens or Leigh Hunt's anthologies. When I asked Lisa Vargo how she had managed it she replied that she had read through every single play systematically during departmental meetings at her university. Broadview owes much not only to Lisa Vargo's tenacity but also to the pace of those departmental meetings.

More work remains to be done on the significance of these and other epigraphs or 'mottoes' as they were then known. If we were as familiar with Beaumont and Fletcher as Godwin and Leigh Hunt were, we would be able to read them as adumbratory or ironic commentators on the action, as mottoes are in Scott and George Eliot. Vargo has, however, drawn attention to this function and pointed the way towards a closer study of the structure and artistry of the text. She has not attempted to analyse the style of writing either, but that is an area into which only one critic, to my knowledge, has to date seriously ventured. [12]

Vargo is not quite consistent about silent corrections. She has allowed some very obvious misprints from the first edition (such as 'passsion') to stand in the text, with footnotes identifying them as misprints. I suspect that leaving them in the text uncorrected was an oversight, and that there was no intention to do as James Rieger's 1974 Frankenstein did and reproduce the warts and all. If I am right, this will be something easy to put right in another reprinting, and, as with The Last Man, though I cannot claim to have pored over Lodore or The Last Man for typesetting errors, the text overall appears to be very accurate.

But away with nit-picking. Three cheers for these two volumes. Naturally, I had my regrets upon learning that the Pickering edition would not be paper-backed. But regret was dissipated when I saw how handsomely the Broadview Last Man and Lodore have dealt with Mary Shelley. We may justifiably have great expectations, too, of Tilottama Rajan's Valperga, and Pamela Clemit and Arnold Markley's Fleetwood (for Broadview include both Wollstonecraft and Godwin in their list). Is it too much to hope for a paperback Falkner (singled out for admiration as a forgotten good book by Michael Baron, recently reviewing the Pickering Edition), Rambles or even Perkin Warbeck?

Parties annexes