Intentional Fallacy In Frankenstein

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What’s demonstrably exigent in both Percy and Mary Shelley’s introductions to the latter’s novel is a sort of finite teleological regress; that is to say, a set of creative impetuses that organically, if not inevitably led to the design of Frankenstein as we today know it. On a meta level, the intent here is rather self-evident: these prefaces are meant to help us readers glean some meaningful insight as to the novel’s inception. But brief and relatively non-descript as they are, I find these sorts of exercises – namely, ones which try to plainly enumerate influences and meanings – to be antithetical to the very notion of the artful creative process. And to be clear, I do not blame either of the Shelleys for this, as it’s noted that these intros were written at the behest of publishers. Still, my misgivings abound. In the vein of Wimsatt’s intentionalism, the two Shelleys’ prefaces seek to identify and illumine certain of…show more content…
The intentional fallacy, as I see it, refers to the breakdown of subjectivity and its devolvement into a sort of pseudo-objectivity that exists greyly between evaluations of the work, and evaluations of the author. On that level, I think Mary’s more in-depth expounding of her motivations and intentions actually impugns the value of an otherwise revolutionary work of singular genius. That negative effect is partially mitigated, though, by the fact that this second introduction was released almost 15 years after the original publication. Because of that time gap, there were some people in the intervening years that got to experience Frankenstein without being overencumbered by such unnecessary and self-injuring expositing on the part of the author. Yet, all of us born well beyond those days are not free from the manacles of excessive explanation, and all its variegated
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