December 30, 2012 - Ozymandias and Frankenstein

On this date in 1816, two authors married. Percy Bysshe Shelley was the Romantic poet who would later write Ozymandias, and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was the author who would later write the gothic novel Frankenstein. (At that point her name was Mary Shelley.)

The Shelleys were considered radical in their lifestyle and political views during their own lifetime, but they achieved admiration and fame for their writings since then.

It's always interesting when two famous or well-accomplished people marry. In the past such power-couple marriages were rare because women were so strongly encouraged to stay home and to focus on family matters; also, women often lacked educational opportunities.

From Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Bill and Hilary Clinton, from Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, power couples can achieve great things together or support each other as they achieve great things separately. Power couples often stay together for years or decades, but they often break up suddenly and publicly as well.

The hubris of humankind

The word hubris means excessive pride—that is, too darned much pride. Both of the Shelleys dealt with hubris in their works I am featuring here.

Ozymandias is a short poem about a mighty king who thought he would make a giant, lasting imprint on history...Read it here, or listen to it over here.

It is hubris to assume that, no matter how much you matter to yourself, you will matter to everybody, for all time.

Frankenstein is about a scientist who tries to create life out of dead body parts and ends up creating a monster. Some people worry that science pushing into matters of life and death is another example of hubris, of people meddling with things that shouldn't be meddled with. Other people worry that these worries are exaggerated and that we shouldn't arbitrarily limit scientific experimentation.

Also on this date:

Birthday of seismograph inventor John Milne

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