Cupid and Psyche in Frankenstein: Mary Shelley's Apuleian Science Fiction?
Contribution to Book
This chapter considers Frankenstein’s climactic ‘bedroom tableau’—when Victor discovers that the Creature has Elizabeth on their wedding-night—in a tradition of structurally and thematically similar scenes originating in the ancient Latin author Apuleius’ novel, Metamorphosis or The Golden Ass. Drawing on documentary evidence including Shelley’s journals and letters, Stevens argues that Shelley repeatedly rewrites Apuleius’ story of Cupid and Psyche, originally a happy allegory of the soul’s capacity for love and pleasure, to emphasize darker themes of fragmented personhood and frustrated love. Exploring variations on those themes in other, similar scenes in Frankenstein and throughout Shelley’s works, especially The Last Man (1826), Stevens concludes by asking what it would mean to read Frankenstein and its tradition as representing a particularly ‘Apuleian’ kind of science fiction.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Jesse Weiner, Benjamin Eldon Stevens, & Brett M. Rogers
Stevens, B.E. (2018). Cupid and Psyche in Frankenstein: Mary Shelley's Apuleian science fiction? In J. Weiner, B.E. Stevens, & B.M. Rogers (Eds.), Frankenstein and its classics: The modern Prometheus from antiquity to science fiction (pp. 123-144). Bloomsbury Academic.
Frankenstein and Its Classics: The Modern Prometheus From Antiquity to Science Fiction