Mary Shelley goes up to the counter with her eccentric friend, who is wearing a lab coat. He wants to make his own drink out of the elements of other drinks - an espresso with hot chocolate, iced tea, whipped cream, caramel, pumpkin spice, mocha, and peppermint. “That’s too many seasons at once!” the barista cries. There is a flash of lightning. The espresso machine begins to move. The back room of the Starbucks is full of pitchforks.
Percy Bysshe Shelley goes up to the counter and orders two venti espressos. He sets them down on the table in front of him like majestic stone pillars. He stands, knocks them to the ground dramatically, and leaves the shop. The barista hears his cries echo through the deserted street: “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.
Happy birthday to Mary Shelley, born on this day in 1797. Her Gothic novel Frankensteindefines the genre. Earlier this year, we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the famous gathering of literary geniuses that brought us Shelley’s iconic work, along with Lord Byron’s “Augustus Darvell” and John Polidori’s The Vampyre.
Here’s a reading list on Mary Shelley and that literature-changing gathering: