I have an embarrassing confession: Before teaching Frankenstein, I had only read the book once… Three days before starting the unit.
We’ve all read the Romantics. I’m not talking about that Danielle Steele mush your mom had completely pulverized and dog-eared on her nightstand, but the heavy heart-hitters of the nineteenth century to whom we can attribute the popularity of albatrosses. We might not remember the Romantics because we barely kept our consciousness during those hour-long torture sessions, but we remember that we were supposed to go over them. And we did. Supposedly.
I remember the image of a bird hanging around a sad man’s neck. That’s about it.
What I didn’t realize, until I started teaching them, is that they sound oddly familiar. When teaching the students the “monster in the mirror” theme of Frankenstein, I suddenly began this strange introspection of my own and made a startling discovery:
I am a modern Romantic. A Neo-Romantic, of sorts.
*Post Update — 3/25* I have recently discovered that the true Neo-Romantics are actually Finnish and European artists of the 1920’s. So I guess this would make this the Neo-Neo-Romantics. NeNeRo.
If you are digging into the furthest recesses of your mind to try and remember what in the holy harrows of hell qualifies a person as a Romantic, here are the five incredibly generalized and over-simplified ways in which I have begun to categorize myself as a Romantic. Do you see yourself in any of these qualities too? If so, tell me. I’d love to have some Neo-Ro friends to write ghost stories with.
- I find beauty in the supernatural – Jacqueleen Example: When planning our Vegas honeymoon, I told my husband that we will detour to Area 51, or the whole deal is off.
- I believe full-heartedly in the power of the individual – JE: Every damn person is of indescribable and beautiful value. I love each and every one of you fools out there. Every. damn. one. Even if you support Trump.
- I want to immerse myself in nature – JE: Funny, coming from a city girl, but like Frankenstein, who drove himself bonkers while immersed in urbania and then when shit got way too close to the fan, headed for the mountains, I find myself constantly moving towards the sky. The stars or the ocean bring me the densest peace. You can’t spell my version of “city girl” without the sea.
- I fear technology – JE: All this autonomous car lunacy scares the bejeezus out of me every time the husband brings it up. You know what, no one better come crying to me when the machines becoming motherfucking aware because I’m definitely going to be the person who told you so.
- I am subject to spontaneous expression – JE: Because slanderous expletives are poetry too.
- Above all: Imagination – JE: This little power source could fuel the world, as far as I’m concerned. To live a life of massive and endless imagination is my personal mission statement. I am walking the world while lost in my own head.
I admit. I didn’t realize I was a Romantic until I flung myself into power-learning the poetry and novels of the movement before having to spit back my new knowledge to the youth. But I think in my newfound bliss-lecturing, some of those crazy kids may have found small pings of joy in poetry about guilty sailors wearing water fowl too.
As a (Neo) Neo-Romantic, I promise to lead my life in a way that inspires rebellion against the dullness of everyday. I will cherish nature, challenge the individual, and fall victim to my imagination daily. And to this, I will always be true.
And if you find yourself a (Neo) Neo-Romantic too, then to you, my friend, I raise my tea-stained and chipped coffee mug filled with cheap shiraz, and with abundant joy in fellowship say, “Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!”