49 minutes | Jul 20th 2020

Visions of ruin: Volney’s ‘Les Ruines’ and Mary Shelley’s Rome

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BSR-Institute of Classical Studies Rome-London Lecture by Catharine Edwards (Birkbeck).

Volney’s hugely influential work Les Ruines (1791) had a profound effect on responses to ruins, not just those of exotic Palmyra (with which Volney’s treatise opens) but also the more familiar ruins of Rome. Les Ruines plays a small but crucial role in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Her later writing, especially works composed in or about Rome (her fragmentary story ‘Valerius: the reanimated Roman’ and her novel The last man), deploys the remains of ancient Rome to explore complex temporalities, alert to the politics of ruins and inflected by a distinctively Volneyan aesthetic.
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