In the Memoirs, Godwin is exercising the imaginative freedom of the artist, demonstrating through his selection and shaping of fact, through his empathic narrator's thematic interposition, that sensitive affectivity he finds so exemplary in Mary Wollstonecraft herself. Godwin's decision was clearly determined by his own needs. And it is Wollstonecraft as exemplar for him with which he is ultimately most concerned, her biography entailing his autobiography. Godwin's personal situation and mental history play an increasingly prominent role as the biography unfolds. Throughout, his interpretive assessments and philosophical asides operate self-referentially. The second version of the Memoirs has received a bad press; it is usually dismissed without examination as a more discreet rendition of the first, its modifications intended merely to appease an irate public. If Godwin's romantic heroine is not the whole of Wollstonecraft's complex nature, his portrayal is the generous artistic tribute of a diligent student to a gifted teacher, a light refracted through biographical involvement.