The monster represents the return of a devitalized creator, where the loss of vitality represents a failure of creativity—driven by an inability to tolerate the imperfection of the creative process. The solution involves reconciling the fact of being a creature with that of being a creator.
Perfect childhoods are deadly traps, but neglecting one’s family—in favor of one’s creative ambitions—is no escape.
Creative commitment and perfectionism do not mix: There is nothing like a perfect childhood to produce the perfect monster.
In their “workshop of filthy creation”—in which their endeavors are monstrously incomplete—how do artists remain committed?
In a competition with already-famous poets, one of whom was her future husband, an 18-year-old Mary Shelley was asked to create a ghost story. Instead, she created a story of the perils of creative ambition, and the possibility that it might lead to a ghosting of the self.
Guest Wes Alwan joins regulars Nathan Hanks, Mary Claire, Daniel St. Pierre, Laura Davis, and Cezary Baraniecki to discuss Mary Shelley’s classic novel in this special cross-post from the newest member of the Partially Examined Life podcast network. Check out more episodes and be sure to subscribe at phificpodcast.com.