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Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus (Nightmares) [Spiral-bound]

Mary Shelley , Caroline Church
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (268 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Spiral-bound: 125 pages
  • Publisher: Purnell (1988)
  • ASIN: B000VWR1IG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (268 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,089,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
In the past I have read several science fiction "classics" such as "War of the worlds", "The Lost World" and several Jules Verne and it is probably been fair to say that these books have been undone by "science fact" with their enduring appeal proabably assisted by Hollywood films or BBC productions. These books have proved to be hugely disappointing and frequently very poorly written. Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is saturated in the melodrama of her age but the quality of the writing and the true horror in many instances genuinely mark this book up as a classsic.

The most striking thing is just how different this book is from your perception. I was surprised just how little I actually knew of the story as it bears no resemblance to any film about "Frankenstein" I have seen. In fact, Shelley offers very little physical description of her "daemon" and the horror of the narrative stems from the fact that the monster has almost super-human powers with which to torment his creator Victor Frankenstein. I was fascinated by the first third of the book and by the time I had read with disbelief that the story could take such a turn concerning the machinations that brought about the fate of the character Justine, I was totally hooked. Oddly for a book of the early 19th Century, the story does not conclude with a totally satisfactory ending and the monster's intended fate would definately have shocked the audience of the time. Part of the book's success stems from the fact that the monster is extremely intelligent and has a strong conscience yet remains hell bent on bringing about the most terrible destruction of the things his creator holds dear.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich and complex tale 6 April 2013
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Put all thoughts of Hammer Horror to one side as Mary Shelley's intriguing and provocative tale is nothing like the rather bad films and adaptations it has spawned. Structured as an embedded series of narratives told by Robert Walton, an explorer; Victor Frankenstein, a scientist who plays god; and the significantly unnamed `creature', this tale engages with conceptions of what it means to be human in the early part of the nineteenth century.

That Mary Shelley was herself pregnant at the time she wrote this adds another layer to this rich story of creator/progeny where the `father' is horrified by the `child' he has created. But this is also a book which engages with questions about innate `human' nature vs. nurture, and the extent to which we are created by our social and cultural environments.

That the `creature' itself is well-read and comes to understand its own creation, existence and desires through Milton's Paradise Lost is only one of the complexities of this book; and the increasing mutual identification between Frankenstein and his creation turns the expected hierarchy of man and monster on its head.

So it's certainly possible to simply read this as a chilling tale of gothic horror - but an interesting number of themes put to work here foreshadow Shriver's We Need To Talk About Kevin, and Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a review of the Oxford World's Classics edition, edited and introduced by Marilyn Butler of Exeter College, Oxford. She explains in her note on the text why the 1818 version is preferred - "it delivers an original, specific and profound fable about the modern world in conditions of social change" - rather than the usual published text of the amended 1831 edition. I agree that the original edition has a raw edge, a directness, and a refusal to concede to societal norms that is not so prominent in the later massaged text.

I came to the novel with an open mind, but with an appreciation that Hollywood had cemented the story as a classic of gothic horror. And yet the monsters tale of his `adventures' with the de Lacey family, for example, seemed worlds away from the `traditional' tale as told by American cinema. (Hence, presumably, Kenneth Branagh's 1994 adaptation bearing the conscious title "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein".)

The novel is very well-written and conceived. It is interesting for its literary-historical and scientific context, but of far more interest to me are the philosophical issues that it (unconsciously?) raises. It is geographically incoherent in places, as is the plot, but plot is not really the reason for this novel, is it?

The actual physical creation of the monster is, surprisingly, sparsely described, covering barely two paragraphs, and even then only a vague illustration is given. Throughout the novel, there are only indistinct allusions to his form. Captain Walton, for example, merely says that he was "gigantic in stature, yet uncouth and distorted in his proportions. ... his face was concealed by long locks of ragged hair; but one vast hand was extended, in colour and apparent texture like that of a mummy".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall, worth reading 7 May 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ever since Mary Shelley had the nightmare that gave birth to the idea of Frankenstein, it has become a very well known, and popular horror story, through film and book. As the original thoughts were preserved in the book, I gave it a read, and was not disappointed.

Thematically, the book is enjoyable and a must-read for its originality, Shelley examining the themes of life and death, curse, ambition and revenge. If you can put it into its 19th century context, the idea of creating a life out of death would be regarded as irreverent and horrific, and at the time would have been a true horror story, maybe more appreciated than it is now. It is a story using an epistolary technique that takes you through the rise and fall of Victor Frankenstein (NOT the monster!), whose creation has caved in on himself. Mary Shelley fills the main plot with many intricacies, and slight surprises, which adds to the excitement of the story.

Shelley writes in a very eloquent style that represents more the feelings of Frankenstein than external descriptions, the descriptions are normally perceived through his own eyes. The character of Frankenstein is thereby greatly explored, in an interesting way.

The reason why I have this book 4 stars is because Shelley's writing can be rather verbose at times, which at times can make small parts of the book unnecessarily described and on the edge of being tedious.

Notwithstanding this relatively minor problem, the book is a classic, and for the good reasons above for reading it, it remains a book that you should read.
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