Well, not really psychosis, that definitely was an exaggeration for alliterative effect, but it is still crazy busy in my world and showing no signs of letting up. I did manage to get two days in the British Library last week, which was excellent, except that it was impossible to get everything done that I wanted to get done in two days. Still, I guess that’s better than nothing! I was trying to research the essay I’m writing for the Ashgate Research Companion to C19th Literature and Science. I’m writing the chapter on literature and chemistry. I read some absolutely fascinating stuff — lots about alchemy and its resurgence in the later C19th and early C20th. They called the discovery of radium ‘modern alchemy’ and then nuclear physics too. That’s all outside the reach of the essay but still brilliant. I also did read some things that were useful for the essay – lots of C19th textbooks that had some really interesting definitions of chemistry. I’m still preoccupied with the idea that the major discovery in chemistry in the early C19th was that there was a finite number of elements in the world that were organised and arranged in a multitude of ways. This is so suggestive for theories of creativity, such as Mary Shelley’s stated idea in the Preface to Frankenstein that her book was ‘invention’ rather than ‘creation’ because nothing can come from nothing. She writes that ‘Invention [is not created] out of the void, but out of chaos. The materials must first be there.’
I’ve left the essay again now to return to my application for the AHRC Fellowship, which I am really struggling with. It’s not really worth going into this since I’m boring myself with the ins and outs of the application, which is huge, and time-consuming (I’ll have spent at least a month full time on it), and to be completely honest I’m not sure how likely it is that I’ll get it. There’s about a 10% chance looking at the stats on the scheme.
Some nice news though, I wrote three articles for the Discovering Literature section of the British Library website (www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians) and the section is doing really well. Apparently they have had 150,009 unique visitors and 410,952 page views since launching in mid-May! How cool is that!
Anyway, I shall plough on. I am looking forward to a Exec Meeting of the British Society of Literature and Science in London this coming Monday and the start of term comes ever closer (though it’s not till 6th October in Lancaster!).