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'The Father's Seduction in Mary Shelley's "Mathilda"' / Steven, Vine

News from Nowhere, Volume: 2, Pages: 57 - 74

Swansea University Author: Steven, Vine

Abstract

The essay examines the contradictory figure of the ‘father’ in Mary Shelley’s 1819 novella, 'Mathilda, a tale of father-daughter incest. Highlighting the paradoxes of incestuous love in Romantic literature – in which father-daughter inces't is figured as oppression and sibling incest as tr...

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Published in: News from Nowhere
Published: 1997
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa17979
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Abstract: The essay examines the contradictory figure of the ‘father’ in Mary Shelley’s 1819 novella, 'Mathilda, a tale of father-daughter incest. Highlighting the paradoxes of incestuous love in Romantic literature – in which father-daughter inces't is figured as oppression and sibling incest as transgression – the essay argues that Shelley’s text folds these opposing impulses into one another. The desiring father in Mathilda is a figure both of law and transgression. Drawing on Julia Kristeva’s notion of the ‘amatory father’ in 'Tales of Love' (1987), the essay argues that 'Mathilda' discloses the contradiction by which patriarchal law denotes both desire and prohibition. It shows how 'Mathilda' opposes a bodily ‘maternal’ sublime to abstract paternal transcendence, undoing the latter in the name of the former.
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Start Page: 57
End Page: 74