About this Hypertext
This hypertext edition of Mary Shelley's 1833 short story 'The Mortal Immortal' is encoded in HTML.
The text of the short story was produced from a copy of The Keepsake for MDCCCXXXIV from the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The short story is one of the most popular of Mary Shelley's, and it has been reprinted numerous times. For more information, see the Print history of 'The Mortal Immortal'.
The electronic text is essentially a "diplomatic" facsimile of the first published version of the short story, as it first appeared in the world. The only emendations I have made are to correct two obvious typesetting errors and one grammatical mistake. These changes are duly noted in hyperlinked notes. Original spellings, including any inconsistencies, are usually retained. I indicate the page numbers of The Keepsake version in square brackets.
I have included links to several works which should help contextualize 'The Mortal Immortal'. Once again, I indicate the page numbers of the original publications in square brackets.
The prefaces from the first and second volumes of The Keepsake give an idea of the spirit in which these volumes were edited, as well as the question of anonymous publication. Mary Shelley regularly contributed to The Keepsake, always with the name of 'The Author of Frankenstein' in the table of contents. She was identified officially for the first time as Mrs. Shelley in the 'List of Contributors' in The Keepsake for 1832. There was no introduction to the 1834 volume.
For its first publication, 'The Mortal Immortal' was immediately preceded by a 'Sonnet' by Sir Egerton Brydges, and followed by J. H. Lowther's 'The Alloy'. On top of contextualizing the first publication of the short story, these two poems also provide a sample of the poetry included in the gift-books (not always of great quality).
This hypertext edition also includes three poems from the Romantic period:
- Robert Southey's poem 'Cornelius Agrippa', which illustrates the reputation of Cornelius Agrippa during the Romantic period, and the moralistic use that might be made of it.
- Lord Byron's poem 'The Devil's Drive', which includes a mention of "Nourjahad".
- Thomas Moore's 'Letter III' from The Fudges in England, which refers four times to The Keepsake and attests to the success of this publication.
I also offer an extract from Richard Garnett's 'Introduction' to Tales and Stories and the biographical notice written by Charles Gibbon in order to show how Mary Shelley was perceived at the end of nineteenth century.
Finally, I include Charles E. Robinson's "Note to 'The Mortal Immortal'", from his edition Mary Shelley: Collected Tales and Stories. I can only warmly recommend readers to consult Professor Robinson's work.
To the user
Onscreen reading, given present technology, is rarely easy. This hypertext edition of 'The Mortal Immortal' would therefore be most useful as a supplement to the printed version found in Robinson's edition.
This hypertext is not offered as a definitive edition of Shelley's short story. Furthermore, the building of this edition is ongoing. I intend to add further layers of annotation and useful links in the future.
For helpful replies to inquiries and continuous support, thanks to my colleagues Charles Robinson, Steven Jones, Neil Fraistat and Carl Stahmer.
Permission to reprint "Note to 'The Mortal Immortal'" by Charles Robinson granted by the author (who holds the copyright). Other sources are credited locally, in notes to individual files. Any other materials are in public domain or are reprinted only in limited, fair-use portions (credited locally). This hypertext is strictly for educational purposes, not to be sold, in whole or in part.
Please send your comments or suggestions to the editor.