"Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley is a fascinating book. I was prejudiced by the film adaptations of this novel. To start with I had no idea that Frankenstein is actually Victor Frankenstein, the creator of a monster. The monster that was created is not called Frankenstein; it is his creator's name.
The monster is the creation of Victor Frankenstein and the monster is lithe, strong, fast and intelligent; this again differs greatly from any film version of the book.
In reading the book I sympathized with the monster that is spurned by his master and by all who gaze upon his repugnant form. The monster flees from society and lives in a hovel, while secretly observing a family which consists of a blind father, a daughter and a son. In observing the family the monster learns their language and learns about love and acceptance and thus learns about the wretchedness of his own existence; how he longs to be part of the family. He attempts to join the family, but one glance at his hideous frame and the family rejects him with great horror.
The monster then seeks out his maker and is rejected once again and this turns his soul to malevolence and revenge.
Victor Frankenstein loses his brother, friend and wife to the monsters murdering hands and indirectly the monster is responsible for the death of Victor's father and a friend of Victor's family. Victor pursues his creation to the ends of earth to rid mankind of the fiend. The story ends up in the North Pole and the ending is tragic. Victor loses his life in his journey and once his creator is dead the monster decides there is no reason for his own existence.
"Frankenstein" is a fabulous read, a read that has you sympathizing with the monster. His creator rejected him when all he wanted was acceptance. Mankind rejected him due to his hideous appearance. He was kind and giving, but turned to hatred and evil due to society's rejection of his physical being. "Frankenstein" is a thought provoking read.Read more ›
(Note: this review is for publisher Simon & Schuster's "enriched classic" edition of this book)
"Published [anonymously] in 1818, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's "Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus" is a model for Gothic fiction, science fiction, and all the horror novels that followed it. Weaving the Gothic elements of the supernatural, terror, anguish, and love with the Romantic values of nature and individualism, Shelley delivers a chilling tale about unchecked ambition and the consequences of disturbing the order of nature. Generations of scientists, ethicists, psychologists, feminists, and artists have been inspired and riveted by Mary Shelley's dark story."
The above comes from the supplementary (or "enriched") materials found in this book that contains the "complete and unabridged" enduring classic novel by Mary Shelley (1797 to 1851).
The structure of this book has front supplementary material (a superb introduction, chronology of Shelley's life and works, and an important historical context of the novel) and back supplementary material (very important notes or glossary, interpretive notes which includes an overview of key themes in the novel, excerpts from critics of the novel, discussion questions, and a suggested book and film list). Sandwiched between this front and back supplementary material is the unforgettable novel itself.
This is not mentioned in the table of contents but the novel in this book is flanked by a preface (written by Shelley's husband who drowned in 1822) and an introduction to the edited third edition of this novel (written by Shelley herself in 1831).
Thus, the structure of this book with no detail is as follows:
Front supplementary material, preface, the novel proper, introduction, back supplementary material.
On the back cover of this book it has the phrase "enduring literature illuminated by practical scholarship." You'll have to read the novel to find out exactly why it has endured since 1818. What I can say is that the novel is "a timeless, terrifying tale of one man's obsession to create life--and the monster that became his legacy." (By the way, the Frankenstein movies that you may have seen bear little resemblance to the actual novel.) It is the concise supplementary material that is the practical scholarship which illuminates this novel.
This book is part of the "Enriched Classics" series which has good, helpful supplementary material. This series includes such titles as "Wuthering Heights," "Great Expectations," and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
Finally, there were only two things that irritated me with respect to this particular book:
(1) On the cover page it states that the "supplemental material [is] written by Margaret Brantley." Who's Margaret Brantley? We're never told.
(2) We're not explicitly told the edition of the novel that's in this book. (Through doing my own research, it seems it is the original 1818 edition.)
In conclusion, this is truly a great work of literature that, as a bonus, is enhanced with helpful notes and insightful commentary. I guarantee that after reading this book, you will know the REAL story of "Frankenstein!"
(published 2009; supplementary materials published 2004; novel first published 1818; introduction; chronology of Mary Shelly's life and work; historical context of the novel; preface; the novel "Frankenstein;" Mary Shelley on her novel; notes; interpretive notes; critical excepts; questions for discussion; suggestions for the interested reader; 350 pages)
(novel "Frankenstein" in 4 letters and 3 parts or 23 chapters; 270 pages)
Reason for Reading: I intend to read the upcoming non-fiction title "The Lady and Her Monsters" which is about the writing and background of the creation of the novel "Frankenstein" so I thought it would be best if I re-read the book to better appreciate the former.
I am a huge Frankenstein fan! I first watched the Boris Karloff movie as a young child and have since seen it dozens of times. I've seen all the MGM sequels and have a deluxe DVD edition with commentaries, etc. I've also seen many, many different remakes, pastiches and parodies of the movie as well as reading Frankenstein themed retellings, comics and pastiches. I have read this, the original book, once before when I was quite young. It was one of the first books I took out of the library when I obtained an adult library card with special permission of my father at 12 or 13. (You had to be 14, or in highschool, to get one at the time). Needless to say at this point in time 30 years later, the movie version, specifically the James Whale (Boris Karloff) version is the one that I think of when I think of the Frankenstein story.
When I went into reading this book I knew that it was a totally different story than what my mind recalls from the movies but I also remembered that it started in the Arctic with the monster relating his story to Frankenstein. So from this I was totally blown away with how incredibly different the actual story is to the conceived modern notion of the tale. The book is told in narrative form from three different points of view and is a story within a story within a story. Starting off with a mariner writing home letters to his sister as he starts an Arctic expedition and then becomes stuck in ice he recounts his tale and his meeting of Victor Frankenstein who stumbles upon them near death in his mad chase of his creature. Then Walton, the mariner, recounts the tale that Frankenstein relates to him of his life. The awful, hideous story of his wretched life. Halfway through this recounting Frankenstein stops to relate the story the creature pauses to tell him of his life story since he woke from the "spark of life" and wandered into the world on his own. Then it goes back to Frankenstein's narrative and finally ends again with Walton's letters. This way we get both Frankenstein and the creature's tales from their own mouths, in their own words as they were related to the person they spoke to.
Neither Frankenstein or the creature are sympathetic which I found surprising, as in the movie I am deeply sympathetic to Karloff's monster. But in the novel, he is a vile, wicked, murdering beast who at first thinks he has human compassion but quickly is turned from having any and easily finds violence and revenge better to his suiting when he is not treated fairly by others. Frankenstein himself is simply mad, the quintessential mad scientist. Obsessed with his creation he thinks of nothing else, working in solitude day and night until he completes his reanimation of life. Upon first glimpse of this "life" he is so horrified that he runs from it and from this point on he becomes obsessed with finding it and destroying it, however the monster has developed his own lust for destroying Frankenstein and sets out to destroy him also, not bodily but in mind and soul by killing all who mean anything to him.
A frightening tale that shows the futility and madness at playing God with science, even though the book mentions very little about religion. This edition I read from "The Whole Story" edition is a wonderful annotated edition which really brings the classics to life. The annotations don't particularly help explain the story any better, though there are some pictures and definitions of some items and devices one may not be familiar with. The main purpose of these annotations is to set one geographically and historically within the place and era that the book was written. Profusely illustrated with etchings and paintings of place names mentioned in the story one becomes immersed in the scenery and in this book particularly the Gothic feel comes to life. Historically we see the prisons of the time period, meet the Romantic poets and artists who shaped the life of the author and the mood which carried over into this novel. I really enjoy and recommend this edition, have several others in the series and would pick up any others I found, but unfortunately they are out of print at this time.Read more ›