The Monstrosity of Love by Phillip Clement

The Monstrosity of Love by Phillip Clement

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‘Love and Other Disasters’ is our annual Museums at Night event, an opportunity to explore hundreds of Britain’s best cultural institutions after hours. Our event will be a chance to hear readings of short extracts from favourite tales of love, both fiction and non-fiction, poetry or prose. Our interns and staff will be blogging about the pieces they will read out; if you would like to volunteer to read something, or have a piece read out for you, get in touch before Friday (see details below). In this piece, Phillip Clement, our marketing intern, discusses one of his favourite books about being in love, from which he will read an extract on Friday night…

Few of you can be unaware, at this stage, of the Library’simminent cultural extravaganza, Love and Other Disasters (Friday 16 May), an evening run in conjunction with Culture 24’s hugely popular Museums at Night festival. Described by Lauren Laverne (Museums at Night Ambassador) as being ‘a fantastic opportunity…to celebrate our heritage in new and exciting ways’. The festival offers visitors rare opportunities to get up close and personal with some fantastic venues (including, of course, Gladstone’s Library) between 15 -17 May.

In preparation for this Friday, I’ve been having a think about the text I might read (any genre or form is acceptable though, as this flyer shows). It was immediately clear that there was only one story worthwhile: Mary Shelley’s epic romance Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. For me, Shelley’s Frankenstein (oft touted as the ‘first modern horror novel and the first science-fiction) is all about love and indeed the major characters are all, at one time or another, looking for love of some kind.

Most memorable of all the characters is, of course, the monster. His quest for some understanding of his existence is manifested in his quest for companionship; and it’s easy to see why, condemned and rejected by humanity, he justifiably feels isolated – I think that it’s hard for us to disagree with his request for a bride, especially considering his repeated vows that they will hide in a South American jungle to hide, far from human contact. His sense of the sublime and his self-stated affinity with Milton’s Satan demonstrates nature’s powerful effect on him, and cannot fail to humanise him in our reading.

The monster is nothing more than a sun-loving, god-fearing, Milton-reading romantic and has faced a (long) lifetime of unearned perjury at the hand of the evil Victor (by comparison a senseless villain with a taste for the cold, hard Alps in an emotionless quest to ‘freeze’ his guilt). For this reason, and more besides, I will be reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on Friday 16 May, with a tear in my eye and a bolt in my neck.

Tickets for our Museums at Night event, ‘Love and Other Disasters’, on Friday 16th May at 10p.m. are £5 each, and can be purchased in person at Reception, or by calling 01244 532 350. If you would like to do a reading at the event, or provide an extract to be read out on your behalf please email to be added to the list.

Frankenstein's Bride

Still from James Whale's 1935 film 'Bride of Frankenstein