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Yeats’s Irish Airman (a visualization)

Yeats’s Irish Airman (a visualization) published on
Yeats's Irish Airman (a programmatic rendering)

A fanciful interpretation of William Butler Yeats’s fantastic poem, “An Irish Airman Foresees his Death”, in SVG. This was drawn (some years ago now) using an XSLT stylesheet working over a rather plain XML version of this poem in four quatrains of tetrameter lines. The “fourness” of this poem suggests its structure might be taken to be that of … a biplane.

If you see nothing, it’s due to a failure either in this platform, or your browser. (I can see it in the preview, but one of the hazards of this kind of work is that I can’t control every link in the chain. And some of them can be rather weak.) Some reflections on SVG in WordPress are coming in another post….

Is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein a documentary history?

Is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein a documentary history? published on

Frankenstein’s creature, in his story-within-the-story of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, says (along with much else) to Victor Frankenstein:

I have copies of these letters, for I found means, during my residence in the hovel, to procure the implements of writing; and the letters were often in the hands of Felix or Agatha. Before I depart I will give them to you …

Much later in the book, as Walton describes his transcription of Victor’s account to him, he vouches:

His tale is connected and told with an appearance of the simplest truth, yet I own to you that the letters of Felix and Safie, which he showed me, and the apparition of the monster seen from our ship, brought to me a greater conviction of the truth of his narrative than his asseverations, however earnest and connected. (Emphasis supplied.)

Just to state the obvious: the creature gives Victor copies of the letters of Felix and Safie (his correspondent), as evidence of the truth of his account. (Which is a bit odd, as we have no particular reason to doubt the creature’s story, once we have accepted his existence. Yet there it is.) Later Victor shows these to Walton, presumably to substantiate his own retelling of the creature’s story to him.

So, is the novel a history of how certain papers got to be in Walton’s hands? (No mention is made of what happens to them after Victor’s death.) Does Walton enclose them in his letters to his sister Margaret (presumably the source of the publication)?

How about the other letters described (and sometimes transcribed) in the course of the narrative? Do they also exist as documentary evidence? Is “Mary Shelley” a front for Margaret Saville?