Adriana Craciun, “Writing the Disaster: Franklin and Frankenstein” (pp. 433–480) The occasion for this essay is the surprise meeting of three texts from distinct traditions—Gothic romance, evangelical theology, and Enlightenment exploration—during the course of an Arctic disaster. The essay explores the relationship of the official disaster narrative (John Franklin's Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea ) to these heterogeneous textual companions, particularly Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818). Published by the Admiralty's official bookseller, John Murray, the official Franklin Narrative emerged from a highly centralized governmental and publishing network, one that attempted a virtual monopoly on prestigious Arctic publications from 1818 to 1848. The essay uncovers the complex institutional connections of this publishing nexus, and the strong centripetal pull exerted upon them by governmental authorities, while simultaneously considering a range of fugitive writings—chief among them Frankenstein—that escaped the pull of this formidable nexus. Frankenstein's proximity to the center of polar print culture and its highly regulated discursive practices reaffirms the widespread persistence not only of collaborative authorship into the nineteenth century, but also of more radically unindividualized authorship practices carried out across institutional lines. Thus, rather than asking how novels like Frankenstein were influenced by polar exploration, this essay broadens the field of inquiry to consider authorship and publishing practices across diverse domains, including corporate, governmental, and commercial.
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