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richness and mystery 31

I am impressed with Stephen’s approach to life and its surprises.  He seems hopeful, optimistic and open-minded.  For example, after visiting Sachi for the first time,  he says, in what looks to me like a remarkably mature moment, that Sachi had “instilled a sense of richness and mystery in Tarumi” (31)–from the moment he met her.  This statement almost sounds too mature, too sophisticated for this young man.  Am I not giving him enough credit?  He does have an artistic sensibility, but this declaration does not ring entirely true to me.   What do you think?


life not just from within 43

Sachi tells Stephen that Matsu has taught her that “life is not just from within, it extends all around you, whether you wish it or not” (43).  At this point in his stay at Tarumi, how much do you think Stephen needs to hear it?  How open is he to this lesson at this moment?  What makes you think these things about Stephen?

being alone, feeling alone 30

So far, the novel addresses, among other ideas, the notion of being alone.  Stephen writes about this in the very early part of the novel. When Stephen asks why Matsu took him to visit Sachi, Matsu explains “so you would know that you’re not alone” (30).  This response makes me wonder if there’s a meaningful difference between being alone and feeling alone.  I think I can be alone without feeling alone.  Can you? Does this distinction make any sense to you?  If so, how do you see Stephen so far–with regards to these two conditions?  What does Matsu mean with his answer to Stephen?

disrupting calm 14

Several times in the opening scenes of the novel, Stephen apologizes  for disrupting the calm.  He uses those very words to describe his swimming in the ocean (14).  Later he describes his charcoal drawing as “interrupting the whiteness of the sheet” (16).  Soon after having met Matsu for the first time, he he feels sure that he “disturbing his [Matsu’s] tranquil world” (9).  What do these and other such moments reveal about Stephen’s character?  Why does he feel this way about his interactions in this new place?  What’s at work when he sees himself in this way?

facing the unknown 7

Stephen writes that while on the train to Tarumi  he breathed in the “fear and attraction of facing the unknown” (7).  During the first chapter of the novel, I wonder about the balance of these two emotions.  For example, has he been showing more of one than the other?  As he meets new people and experiences, how has handled his fear and attraction?



summary notes on this first chapter are forthcoming, along with refined title of post to highlight its major contents

Vol. 3 open season

In 2005, Harper Perennial published a book called  A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, 1599.  In the back of the book, the author says this in response to his being called a “fine cultural historian”: “I rarely think of myself in terms of labels.  I find questions I want to answer and have the tenacity to track down the answers–and a gift for finding things others have overlooked . . . ” (“A Conversation with James Shapiro” 6). Shapiro teaches literature at Columbia University.  Both of his parents and all of his siblings are also teachers.

For Volume 3 of Mary Shelley’s novel, leave a comment on this post by asking a question of your own–a macro or micro question, but one that warrants discussion.  As people begin to offer their questions, feel free to respond to one of those, instead of introducing another new one.  We’ll let the marketplace of ideas determine where the vigorous conversations occur.

As with comments you have left for Volumes 1 and 2, please make these new ones clear, specific and developed.

Before adding to this host-post of mine for Volume 3, please read the guidelines below.  Thank you.


For this section of the online discussion (Volume 3), please start your comment with CAPITAL LETTERS in one of two ways: “NEW THREAD” or “COMMENT ON.”

For example, if you want to introduce a NEW THREAD, begin with those two words and add  a brief title of your idea.  Here’s how that might look:  NEW THREAD: TECHNOLOGY AS MASTER.

If you are the one introducing a new thread, your complete entry looks like this

NEW THREAD, TECHNOLOGY AS MASTER:  On page 131, the creature says, ” You are my creator, but I am your master;–Obey!”  This reminds me of modern technology and the myriad ways in which it has become our master.  Does anyone else see this parallel, and if so what is a particularly salient modern example?

Once you pick the new thread to which you want to respond, begin your reply to my original post (VOLUME 3. student threads) with these  words:

COMMENT ON TECHNOLOGY AS MASTER:  then start writing your comment

Let’s see how this goes.  The goal is to offer a new discussion thread.  Conceive of and phrase your idea in a way that encourages discussion. At the same time, avoid an overly broad statement that leaves readers wondering what exactly they are discussing.  Provide just enough context and explanation to start a productive discussion.

Remember that we need a balance of new threads and comments on the ideas.  Before you post, review what’s been already been written, so that you can sustain or introduce momentum where needed.

Vol. 2 two views of vengeance

On the same page, both Victor and his creature speak words of revenge.  Victor refers to “the fierce vengeance of my [his] arm,” after which the creature promises to “glut the maw of death” (72).  What comments on the nature of revenge does the novel offer so far?  What do you make of this similar language from the two protagonists?

Vol. 2 a mature monster

Is it my imagination, or does the creature’s tale show a more reasonable character than Victor Frankenstein’s character?  The wretched creature seems more balanced, at least in the early part of his tale.  For example, he patiently and compassionately asks Victor to listen to his story before he judges.  Is it my imagination?

Vol. 2 younger person

Granted Mary Shelley had married and already lost a child by the time she had published Frankenstein, but parts of the novel’s language sound like that of a younger person.  Specifically, many of the sentences use extreme terms.  For example, Victor claims “nothing is more painful” (64), and his “heart overflowed” (65) and his father’s advice for his grieving son is “totally inapplicable” (65) [emphasis added].  I wonder if such extreme language tells us more about Victor or Mary Shelley.