cover image Gothic Romance

Gothic Romance

Emmanuel Carrere. Scribner Book Company, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19199-7

An allusive and contrived retelling of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) and the circumstances of its composition--when the Shelleys, Byron, and his mad young medic ``poor Polidori'' lived abroad and traded ghost stories--this novel shuttles to and fro in time as if an intertextual exercise. It opens with the embittered addict Polidori living in squalor with a prostitute and claiming that Shelley stole his ideas for her story while his own tale, The Vampire , has been slighted. In a suicidal overdose, he imagines himself drenched on the deck of a sinking ship. The scene shifts to contemporary London, where the ship's captain, Robert Walton (the Arctic explorer in Shelley's novel, to whom the marooned Dr. Frankenstein described his monstrous creation), is now a publisher of romances. He telephones tips to his bevy of authors, notably one named Ann, whose adventures reveal the evolution of romantic myth, e.g., Frankenstein, seen today as a construct of psychoanalysts, biographers, storytellers, filmmakers, and scholars. Written before Carrere's lauded The Mustache , this piece of literary gamesmanship will appeal most to readers concerned with narrative as a puzzle and a process. (July)