The glacier called Mer de glace — the Sea of Ice — carves its…

The glacier called Mer de glace — the Sea of Ice — carves its way through the Chamonix Valley north of Mont Blanc, the White Lady of the Alps. “This,” Mary Shelley wrote in her diary, “is the most desolate place in the world.” Mary, eighteen years old, eloping with her future husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, first set eyes on the Mer de Glace around noon on July 25th, 1816, on a trip away from their vacation residence in Coligny. There, a month earlier, visiting with their friend Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati, Mary had begun writing Frankenstein. The Shelleys’ excursion to Montenvers and the Mer de Glace was a laborious one, hurried along by guides, riding mules along steep paths, always on the lookout for falling rocks. On the 24th, they were turned back by driving rain. Percy slipped and knocked himself out. On the 25th, reaching the glacier, they were so profoundly moved by the sights as to commit their impressions in several pieces of writing. Collaborating on a travelogue, History of a Six Week’s Tour (1817), they wrote of “a scene in truth of dizzying wonder… On all sides precipitous mountains, the abodes of unrelenting frost… they pierce the clouds like things not belonging to this earth.” The Mer de Glace appeared as “a mass of undulating ice… as if frost had suddenly bound up the waves and whirlpools of a mighty torrent.” The ice needles, rising 12 or 15 feet high, were intersected by vast crevices “of unfathomable depth”. (via Frankensteinia: The Frankenstein Blog: Mer de Glace)

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