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The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein Audio Cassette – Audiobook, 1 Oct 2009


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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: ISIS Audio Books (1 Oct. 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0753145839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753145838
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Peter Ackroyd is the author of biographies of Dickens, Blake and Thomas More and of the acclaimed non-fiction bestsellers London: The Biography and Thames: Sacred River. Peter Ackroyd is an award-winning novelist, as well as a broadcaster, biographer, poet and historian. He has won the Whitbread Biography Award, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the South Bank Prize for Literature. He holds a CBE for services to literature.

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Review

"..a brilliant jeu d'esprit. Above all, it stands as a tribute to the power of the human imagination" -- Daily Telegraph, Michael Ardiiti

'Casebook...is tremendous fun: it glows with intellectual enthusiasm and love for London' -- Time Out London

...a brilliant, impressionistic piece of literary art , and Ackroyd's forte -- Scotland on Sunday

`Ackroyd deftly brings to life the atheist rebellion and Enlightenment values of the time while giving full vent to his imagination...What amazes is how effortless it feels...a consummate and blood-freezing piece of writing.'
-- Metro

`ambitious retelling'
-- New Statesman

`an intelligent, creepily beautiful and haunted thing.' -- The Times Saturday, Melissa Katsoulis

`the spare, beautiful writing whips the story along nicely...a frighteningly relevant novel. Highly recommended' -- Gay Times

a confident and supremely accomplished excercise in literary historicism. -- The Herald --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"..a brilliant jeu d'esprit. Above all, it stands as a tribute to the power of the human imagination" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By G. J. Oxley on 30 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover
In this, Ackroyd's latest novel, Victor Frankenstein is a contemporary and companion of Percy Bysshe Shelley at Oxford before Shelley gets sent down for publishing an atheistic pamphlet. Frankenstein eventually cuts short his own studies and joins his friend in London. Here he attends lectures on the new science of electricity and as an amateur anatomist wonders if it can be used to reanimate corpses.

After inheriting money upon the death of his father, he makes the acquaintance of a group of resurrection men who provide him with the cadavers he needs for his experimentation. But he unwittingly unleashes a terrible beast into the world...

I thoroughly enjoyed this, as I have all of Ackroyd's fiction (and non-fiction) that I've read. Here he carefully interposes a fictional character created by another writer - i.e. Victor Frankenstein - into the lives of real historical (mostly literary) figures, and adds his own excellent fictional characters to the mix - Fred Shoebury, his mother etc. He's done this many times before of course, and this is one of his strengths.

The author has great fun with the major poets of the period. In addition to the fanciful and excitable Shelley, he also has cameos for Coleridge, Southey and Wordsworth, among others and there's lots of scholarly in-jokes (you won't believe the former identity of the monster he creates!) However, his greatest portrait is that of the fiercely intelligent and impulsive Lord Byron, who grows increasingly impossible and fiery as he's taken over by the demons that live within him.

And as Shelley's in here so is his wife Mary - the writer of the original `Frankenstein' novel. One scene is set in the chateau near Lake Geneva which saw the genesis of the original book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Abec7 on 3 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
I bought this on impulse as the free book in a "three for two offer" as I have always been fond of the original novel by Mary Shelley and was curious to see how a post-modern rendition of the tale would play out.

It is a fast-paced novel and, thankfully, a quick read. The story bounces along with a great deal of energy but the narrative has no real substance. The characterisation of the working class owes much to Dickens with their cheeky cockney wit and tendency to malapropisms. While this may have been acceptable in the Nineteenth Century, it seems a lazy trick to rely upon now. Shelley and Byron have some verisimilitude but ultimately read as caricatures than considered portraits. Victor himself is an engaging narrator but many of the scenes he recounts leave one with a sense that the author has failed to realise the vision that arose in his imagination and has merely sketched an outline. I was uncomfortable too by the diminishment of Mary Shelley's achievement by the implication that she was only capable of retelling a drama played out before her eyes rather than the creator of a complex and philosophical idea.

It is, however, the ending of the novel which really offends. Unlike another reviewer, I had early on wondered if I had guessed at the conclusion but discarded the idea as simplistic and obvious. Sadly, I was wrong and the 'twist' played out as I had predicted. As Andrew Motion noted in his review in The Guardian, it is akin to the 'it was all dream' cliché. Up until that point, I would have recommended this as an airport novel, to be read and discarded as ephemera. The conclusion enraged me to the extent that I cannot now even make that recommendation. Read the original instead. It is far more satisfying.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Purpleheart TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Dec. 2008
Format: Hardcover
`I was born in the Alpine region of Switzerland, my father owning much territory between Geneva and the village of Chamonix where my family resided.'

The novel starts in typical gothic mode with where the protagonist was born and grew up - here it is the Alps where the young Victor `exulted in storms'. He is `blessed by the poetry of nature itself' and wanting to learn the `secrets of nature', and of electricity in particular, he persuades his father to let him come to `practical' England to study at Oxford. There he becomes great friends with Percy, known as Bysshe, Shelley and later stays with him and his second wife Mary at Lord Byron's holiday villa near Lake Geneva. We all know that this is where Mary Shelley wrote the original Frankenstein as the house party amused each other with ghost stories. It was an amazing feat of the imagination for a nineteen year old - she was fascinated by the emergence of the power of science and by questions of what was monstrous in wanting to understand and to create life. In this novel she has been demoted from creator to small speaking part - it's ironic that that here she is robbed of her best known creation since she is so associated with feminism through her mother Mary Wollstonecraft.

The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein mixes fact, nineteenth century fiction and Ackroyd's twenty first century fiction with abandon. Harriet Shelley's life diverges most obviously - rather than being an educated daughter of a wealthy coffee shop owner here she is a East End girl working on a precursor to a factory production line. Harriet is murdered before Shelley meets wife number two in this alternate universe whereas in reality Shelley and Mary eloped whilst he and Harriet were separated.
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