Saturday, November 1, 2008

Things That Annoy

You may or may not have heard that a new edition of Frankenstein, edited by Charles E. Robinson, has recently been published. This edition credits the novel to Mary Shelley (with Percy Shelley).

Um, excuse me?

Certainly, Percy Shelley edited the novel. He no doubt discussed it heavily with Mary. He made many suggestions. We have manuscript evidence of that fact.

But that doesn't make him a co-author! Anybody who has ever written anything at all knows that every piece of writing in a collaborative effort. Most people have a whole litany of assistants, from thesis supervisor to editor to supportive partner.

I don't think I'm over-reacting to read heavy doses of sexism into this. Of course, a 19-year-old woman could never have written one of the most enduring classics of literary history all by her lonesome. No, she could only do it with the help of her husband! So lovely of him to give up his time to help his helpless little wife churn out a good story. Please.

And, of course, I highly doubt that attributing co-authorship to a wife in the case of a famous MALE writer would ever be seriously considered.

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