“A Fitting Costume to Our Last Act:” Mary Shelley’s Alpine Redemption

by Danielle Pearson,

When Mary Shelley looked at the Alps, she did not see mountains, lakes and trees. Instead, she saw an earthly paradise, a landscape so sublime that words could only hint at the wonder that it inspired. Writing of the mountains, Shelley draws attention to all that is measureless and eternal; "placed in scaleless altitude in the stainless sky, heaven kissing... the glorious Alps, clothed in dazzling robes of light." These words are from her 1826 novel The Last Man, in which the Alps play a crucial role in the fate of humanity. But Shelley's first visit to this stunnin...

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