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Worm WorkRecasting Romanticism$
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Janelle A. Schwartz

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816673209

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816673209.001.0001

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A Diet of Worms; or, Frankenstein and the Matter of a Vile Romanticism

A Diet of Worms; or, Frankenstein and the Matter of a Vile Romanticism

(p.149) 5 A Diet of Worms; or, Frankenstein and the Matter of a Vile Romanticism
Worm Work

Janelle A. Schwartz

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter offers a new natural–historical reading of the relationship between Victor Frankentein and his creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus (1818). Worms foreground, rather than oppose, electrical intervention, transmuting decay into a kind of regeneration. Worms in Frankenstein appear in part in their capacity to decompose dead matter and so continue to represent the cycle of decay and generation intrinsic to imagining nature as an organic whole. The chapter also shows how Victor ultimately severs figurations of the worm from their natural–historical precedent, suspending process to transpose vermicular trappings into an exaggerated artifice of the vile: the creature. Frankenstein reimagines the relationship between the organic and the aesthetic in an effort to present materiality as that which is the aesthetic imaginary self.

Keywords:   Victor Frankentein, Mary Shelley, worms, decay, regeneration

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