Thanks to a chance remark from mea soror, we went on an impromptu web quest to decipher THE SAGA OF PERCY SHELLEY'S HEART. Somehow, I am not surprised that of all the literary movements, it's the Romantics who end up playing Hot Potato with dead people's organs.Time Magazine, 1933
Romantic to the end was the heart of Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who drowned in the Gulf of Spezia in 1822. Italian sanitary laws then required the immediate cremation of a drowned corpse. Those who disposed of Shelley's corpse were Poet Leigh Hunt (who wrote a nerve-wracking description of the event), Poet George Gordon Lord Byron, and Adventurer Edward John Trelawny. As Shelley's incinerating ribs fell apart on their pyre of driftwood, adventurous Trelawny, a lion of a man, thrust in his brawny arm, snatched out the simmering heart. Cried Lord Byron: "Don't repeat this with me. Let my carcass rot where it falls!"
1) KALI MAAAAAAAAA
2) What are the qualifications for listing your profession as 'Adventurer'?
3) When Byron gets weirded out, you've crossed a line.
IT GETS BETTER.NYTimes, 1995
After Shelley's death by drowning, his body was cremated in the presence of his friends Edward Trelawny and Leigh Hunt. Strangely, Shelley's heart did not burn and was retrieved from the fire by Trelawny, who gave the heart to Hunt, who ultimately gave it to Shelley's wife, Mary. The heart was finally buried in 1889, 67 years after Shelley's death, with the body of his son Sir Percy Florence Shelley. In a 1955 article in The Journal of the History of Medicine, Arthur Norman suggested that Shelley may have suffered from "a progressively calcifying heart . . . which indeed would have resisted cremation as readily as a skull, a jaw or fragments of bone."
HIS HEART WAS POSSIBLY MADE OF STOOOOOOONE! WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN?
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. Because as one can imagine, once you have the slightly charred and potentially petrified heart of a guy like Shelley, you're not gonna want to give that up. According to some dude on the Internet
, once Trelawny the Adventurer desecrated his buddy's corpse, "...there than followed an unseemly tussle between Mary Shelley and Leigh Hunt, who had acquired the heart. Mary finally obtained custody. She secreted the heart in a copy of "Adonais", which she kept under her pillow."
2) Yes, she's the one who wrote Frankenstein
. (Years before this, incidentally.)
Of course, she might not have ACTUALLY kept it under her pillow; it's possible she just "carried it with her in a silken shroud everywhere she went for the rest of her life" (someone else on the internet
). As one does.
In conclusion: WTF.