Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus
Dent, 1869 - 242 pages
Frankenstein was published in 1818, the work of a 21-year-old genius named Mary Shelley. Hundreds of movies, adaptations, and monster masks later, its reputation remains so lively that the title has become its own word in the English language. Victor Frankenstein, a scientist, discovers the secret of reanimating the dead. After he rejects his hideous creation, not even the farthest poles of the earth will keep his bitter monster from seeking an inhuman revenge. Inspired by a uniquely Romantic view of science’s possibilities, Shelley’s masterpiece ultimately wrestles with the hidden shadows of the human mind.
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I dare not expect such success, yet I cannot bear to look on the reverse of the
picture. Continue to write to me by every opportunity: I may receive your letters (
though the chance is very doubtful) on some occasions when I need them most to
I did not dare return to the apartment which I inhabited, but felt impelled to hurry
on, although wetted by the rain, which poured from a black and comfortless sky. I
continued walking in this manner for some time, endeavoring, by bodily exercise,
Could he allude to an object on whom I dared not even think? "Compose yourself
," said Clerval, who observed my change of color, "I will not mention it, if it
agitates you; but your father and cousin would be very happy if they received a
"After what I have said, I dare say you well remember the heroine of my little tale:
for Justine was a great favorite of yours; > and I recollect you once remarked, that
if you were in an ill humor, one glance from Justine could dissipate it, for the ...
When he smiles, two little dimples appear on each cheek, which are rosy with
health. He has already had one or two little wives, but Louisa Biron is his favorite,
a pretty little girl of five years of age. - “ Now, dear Victor, I dare say you wish to be
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“Frankenstein”: Mary Shelley
Fundamentally, the problem with this book is the narrator, Victor. He is thoroughly detestable. A selfish, cowardly, irresponsible, excuse ridden, narcissistic d****e-bag of the highest order. And unfortunately, it is Victor Frankenstein’s POV that we are forced into for the majority of the novel. My hatred for and frustration with the self-pitying, feckless behaviour of the (pseudo) protagonist made this an irritating read for me- and to an extent I think this was Shelley’s intention. Victor isn’t designed to be the likable, affable, morally “good” man fallen from grace he believes himself to be, and the horrific events that befall those around him are of his making. However, this doesn’t make him any less grating!
The "monster" (to me reminiscent of Caliban with his lyrical speech and enforced isolation, being neither man nor not man) is eloquent and persuasive when he asks his creator to account for his misdoings. So, you’ve got to ask yourself, if an infanticidal, demonic, bag of sewn together corpses is actually more engaging than the main storyteller, is that storyteller really the right character to be telling the story?
Now, with all that said, it is an important book. A work by a female author with strong female characters (albeit background characters) who was only nineteen when she wrote the initial draft. Very impressive. But, for me her youth is evident. When we teach secondary school pupils to write creatively, we often give them the ambiguous instruction “show don’t tell”, and for me the book is more of a list of horrible and horrific events told in a Chinese puzzle box style story within a story, rather than an engaging and “complete” narrative. It feels like she chooses to place focus on the wrong “bits”- for example the whole of chapter nineteen where Victor travels the British Isles, comments briefly on the local architecture of each town and city and then repetitively reminds us that he couldn’t enjoy the surroundings because of his angst. And I would have at least like to have seen some of the courtroom drama when Victor is tried for the death of Clerval...
So, I hate to be “that” gal, who poo-poos these fantastic works of fiction (we know they’re great because some clever-britches told us they were) but in all honesty, the novel ain’t that good, and I’ll maintain that stance no matter how clever the britches of the opposing schools of thought. I think the continuing appeal is in it’s universal themes: parenting, nature versus nurture; morality and scientific advancement- and the whole idea of stitching a creature out of corpse-parts and electrocuting it to life is pretty darn cool. And there are some really effective horror scenes, such as the vignette of Victor ripping apart project lady-monster (I kind wish she had a name- a working title- but given he can’t even be bothered to name monster number one I guess this was all too much to hope for).
It’s readable, but it’s value, for me at any rate, lies in the offshoots and creativity it has spawned, rather than the work itself.
This is probably a great book, but the audio player skips section 5 and 6. And the people who monitor feedback don't respond. If I don't get the whole book, I believe I am entitled to a refund.