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Ozymandias (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".

Extract from Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)

"It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld my man completed; with an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected instruments of life around me that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet, It was already one in the morning, the rain pattered dismally against the window panes, and my candle was nearly burned out, when by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open. It breathed hard, and with a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.

How can I describe my emotion at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! — Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black and flowing; and his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion, and straight black lips".

Extract from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Mary Wollstonecraft)

"To account for, and excuse the tyranny of man, many ingenious arguments have been brought forward to prove, that the two sexes, in the acquirement of virtue, ought to aim at attaining a very different character: or, to speak explicitly, women are not allowed to have sufficient strength of mind to acquire what really deserves the name of virtue. Yet it should seem, allowing them to have souls, that there is but one way appointed be providence to lead mankind to either virtue or happiness.

If then women are not a swarm of ephemeron triflers, why should they be kept in ignorance under the specious name of innocence? Men complain, and with reason, of the follies and caprices of our sex, when they do not keenly satirize our headstrong passions and groveling vices. Behold, I should answer, the natural effect of ignorance! The mind will ever be unstable that has only prejudices to rest on, and the current will run with destructive fury when there are no barriers to break its force. Women are told from infancy, and taught by the example of their mothers, that a little knowledge of human weakness, justly termed cunning, softness of temper, outward obedience, and a scrupulous attention to a puerile kind of propriety, will obtain for them the protection of a man; and should they be beautiful, every thing else is needless, for at least 20 years of their lives."

Extract from An Enquiry into Political Justice (William Godwin)

"The object proposed in the following work is, an investigation concerning that form of public or political society, that system of intercourse and reciprocal action, extending beyond the bounds of a single family, which shall be found most to conduce to the general benefit. How may the peculiar and independent operation of each individual in the social state most effectually be preserved? How may the security each man ought to possess as to his life, and the employment of his faculties according to the dictates of his own understanding be most certainly defended from invasion? How may the individuals of the human species be made to contribute most substantially to the general improvement and happiness? The enquiry here undertaken has for its object to facilitate the solution of these interesting questions.

In entering upon this investigation nothing can be more useful, than to examine into the extent of the influence that is to be ascribed to political institutions; in other words, into the powers of man, as they have modified, or may hereafter modify his social state of existence. Upon this subject there has been considerable difference of opinion."

Object details

Bodleian Libraries

Broad Street

Oxford

OX1 3BG