I am delighted to announce the publication of The Frankenstein of 1790 and other Lost Chapters from Revolutionary France. I wrote this book in the hope of making some of the greatest stories every told come back to life. But I am also a scholar deeply engrossed in the political history of revolutionary France, so it may be a bit detailed for general reading. Hence this little tip:
If you want to jump forward to parts that were the most fun to write, skip to the Codas.
1. Chap. One’s Coda reveals L. Frank Baum’s ties to 19th-c feminism, and highlights the links between the Versailles marchers of 1789, the fish-selling poissardes, and Baum’s plain-spoken character, Our Landlady, who famously declared: “it’s the conceit o’men as is the biggest stumblin’block ter universal sufferin’ o’women!”
2. Chap. Two shows how Shelley’s Frankenstein can be understood as a mechanical invention rooted in 18th-century automaton tales and the Mechanical Theaters of London and Paris.
3. Chap. Three unearths parallels between the lowly rooming-house boarder Old Goriot and King Louis XVI in his powerless (and clueless) last years.
4. Chap. Four argues that Robespierre’s biographers made him into the first truly “modern” villain, and shows why high school teachers are quite right to teach Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities, before ending with the dark humor of Flaubert’s Dictionary of Received Ideas.
5. The Conclusion brings the Revolution up to date with a glance at a notorious film, a couple advertising campaigns, and some food for thought from the Arab Spring.
p.s. There are also lots of pictures.