One of the most prestigious and admirable buildings that I have been fortunate enough to visit on this campus is Wilson Library. Each encounter that I have had in Wilson has introduced me to various unique rooms that all have an interesting, historical background that collectively tell a story of the building. This particular visit exposed me to a vast collection of rare pieces of literature which allowed me to momentarily take a glimpse into the past to see how literature has evolved and the different societal perspectives gathered from each time period on the works in comparison to present day perceptions.
The piece that resonated with me the most was the Frankenstein (1818) book written by Mary Shelley and illustrated by Barry Moser. The aspect that captivated me to this piece the most was the front cover of the book. In comparison to many of the plain cover books that were displayed, this one exuded an eye-catching composition of an assortment of vibrant colors to depict the infamous scene in the book when Frankenstein’s creation strangled Elizabeth on her wedding night. On the cover, the lifeless Elizabeth is dressed in a seemingly luminous, yellow dress sprawled out on rumpled bedsheets following her encounter with Frankenstein’s creation. The creature can be seen in the background looking at its enlarged hands, while the sun sets in the background. These are all interesting components that morph the way a reader interprets the text of the book. Not only does this provide the readers with a figure to associate with two of the main characters in the book, but it also gives rise to an interpretation of what the creature Frankenstein created looks like which has been a topic of much controversy. In this version, the creature possesses more human-like features and can even be seen sporting normal attire which contradicts the present day monstrous, mysterious appearance attributed with this character.
The preservation process for maintaining the good condition of these pieces of literature added an element of respect and awe during the handling process. For this book in particular, we were instructed not to open it and could only view the front/back cover. We noticed that the pages on the inside had a yellow hue to them which intrigued us to inquire about how old the book was and what kind of paper was used to create the work. Although I do not specifically remember the year and material used to construct the book, I do recall being very surprised that it was able to be maintained for such a long period of time and held it at an even greater importance. This visit to Wilson helped me obtain a new appreciation for the world of literature. The preservation of such pieces is crucial for allowing future connections to be made and interconnecting them with elements from the past to create an overall picture for the history of each piece and the future adaptations that surround a body of original work.