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The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein [Hardcover]

Theodore Roszak
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (T); First Edition, Third Printing edition (April 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679437320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679437321
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,015,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Theodore Roszak: born in 1933, a Californian Professor of History, director of the Ecopsychology Institute at California State University, social critic and novelist, author of the influential and acclaimed The Making of the Counterculture and The Cult Of Information - described by Fritjof Capra as 'one of the keenest observers and most articulate interpreters of contemporary cultural, philosophical, and scientific trends'.



Product Description

Synopsis

The passionate story of Elizabeth Lavenza, a girl rescued from poverty and raised by a remarkable noblewoman of Geneva, describes how the demise of her sensual bond with Victor Frankenstein sends him hurtling into a secret life, and along a path of destruction. Reprint. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that works on so many levels.... 20 Mar 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is not a book for the faint of heart. And it certainly isn't a book for fans of most so-called "gothic horror" currently padding the bookshelves. This isn't a "isn't it cool to be undead" power fantasy ride and it isn't a "gasp what's behind that corner" thriller. It is instead a masterful work of fiction blended with fact, as Roszak weaves a tapestry that has as its subject matter not just Elizabeth Frankenstein, but the pre-Victorian age she lived in, the dark Romanticism of the age, and the (all too forgotten) revelation of pre-Twentieth Century feminism, and the pain that came with it.

The sensuality surrounding Elizabeth and Victor's relationship, consumed by Victor's dark passions, feels natural and powerful. Sexuality is a form of strength within this text. A kind of power that one keeps to one's self. This is reflected both in the couple's experimentation with sexual alchemy and in the shattering of their bond through rape-as-marriage. It further is highlighted by the "editor's remarks" that annotate the work, which are a paragon of Victorian priggishness while forced to begrudgingly admire Elizabeth's "perversities."

Accurately rendered and excellently written, this book should appeal to serious students of Romanticism and light fiction lovers alike.

But don't come in expecting easy to digest screams.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Search the Libraries First!!! 28 Mar 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The reviewer before me states that this book is mostly just silly, and yes that sums this book up for me too. The premise is good as is the first 100 pages or so before a downhill spiral into overstated feminism that is trumpeted rather than suggested and what is pretty much nonesense. The book becomes trashy to say the least, and full of inconsistancies obvious to anyone who has read the original.
Lets have an example. The book it says in the 'about the author' section was written by a Frankenstein scholar who has taught courses on the novel. If this is so how is it that he conveniently forgot the existance of Elizabeth's little foster brother William, murdered by the monster, or Justine the nursemaid wrongfully accused of his murder? These characters are simply missing.
It says on the cover "The shocking tale Mary Shelley dared not write', I didn't find it shocking, shockingly bad perhaps and Mary would never dare write such a bad novel. It strikes me as a book the author was writing anyway before he decided to change the names of the characters and stick the monster in the final 20 pages so he could cash in on the name. I would suggest reading 'Frankenstein Unbound' by Brian Aldyss, a far more erudite and entertaining retelling of the story :)
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book after reading the recommendations and the reviews posted on Amzaon. This book was highly overated. The premise is certainly interesting, a retelling of Frankestein through his sister/fiance. The book just doesn't hold together terribly well. It's feminism is of the bludgeon over your head type, lacking in nuance and subtlety, and the main character really appeared to be a man's creation of a feminist female prototype. Very disappointing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be warned: this book is an argument in disguise 4 April 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you read "The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein" expecting to find a horror story similar to Mary Shelley's classic, then you will be extremely disappointed. But Theodore Roszak's novel is an excuse to make an argument, albeit in narrative form, concerning what Dr. Frankenstein wrought up in his laboratory. After all, Roszak is not only a novelist ("Flicker") but also a historian ("The Making of a Counter Culture"). The novel "Frankenstein" represents an important paradigm shift in human history, where science became God, replacing religion. In that regard you can say that the myth of Frankenstein replaced that of Faustus. Essentially "Frankenstein" argues that "there are some things man was not meant to tamper with," a tale that you can trace back to the Tower of Babel or see behind the story of the Titanic for that matter. Roszak makes a similar and no less compelling case for a different kind of shift. For Roszak the science of Dr. Frankenstein represents the "masculine," which replaces the older "feminine" wisdom represented by Elizabeth.
As an infant, Elizabeth Lavenza is given to a wandering gypsy. She is illegitimate, without a mother and rejected by her father. Nine years later she is adopted by the strange wife of Baron Alphonse Frankenstein. Elizabeth discovers that Lady Caroline Frankenstein belongs to a secret witches' coven. She has adopted Elizabeth to create an intellectual companion for her son Victor. Lady Caroline has the two children tutored by an old crone, Seraphina, who teaches the "women's mysteries," which includes a series of erotic devotions that serve to reveal the ancient secrets of life. However, Victor would rather dissect animals and study electrical storms. Rejecting magic, instinct and sensuality for the power of aggressive intellect, Victor destroys his friendship with Elizabeth in a brutal act. This sets up Roszak's one ironic twist on the original novel, for when the creature finally emerges in the final chapters of the novel, he befriends Elizabeth; of course, this is before he strangles her on her wedding night. Ultimately, Roszak has written an allegory that despite its willingness to wallow in arcane sexual rites argues for the privileged position of supposedly "feminist" ideals. For Roszak, Dr. Frankenstein is more Pandora than "The Modern Prometheus." If you have read Shelley's novel (not to be confused with the various film versions) and have an appreciation for how the dawn of the Age of Science changed things, then you will find "The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein" to be a provocative story.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical, sensitive... and not for light readers. 12 April 2000
By Miguel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a novel that works in amny levels. Of course, it is indeed, a masterful gothic. A bouquet to Mary Shelley and a very modern horror story, but beyond these layers it is also a study of the secrets of the women at a time when they were best thought of "in the dark"... and this is a dark story all right.
For those of use who longed for more about the enigmathic and tragic Elizabeth Lavenza-Frankenstein here is a book that won't be easily read, but neither will it be easily forgotten.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that works on so many levels.... 20 Mar 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is not a book for the faint of heart. And it certainly isn't a book for fans of most so-called "gothic horror" currently padding the bookshelves. This isn't a "isn't it cool to be undead" power fantasy ride and it isn't a "gasp what's behind that corner" thriller. It is instead a masterful work of fiction blended with fact, as Roszak weaves a tapestry that has as its subject matter not just Elizabeth Frankenstein, but the pre-Victorian age she lived in, the dark Romanticism of the age, and the (all too forgotten) revelation of pre-Twentieth Century feminism, and the pain that came with it.

The sensuality surrounding Elizabeth and Victor's relationship, consumed by Victor's dark passions, feels natural and powerful. Sexuality is a form of strength within this text. A kind of power that one keeps to one's self. This is reflected both in the couple's experimentation with sexual alchemy and in the shattering of their bond through rape-as-marriage. It further is highlighted by the "editor's remarks" that annotate the work, which are a paragon of Victorian priggishness while forced to begrudgingly admire Elizabeth's "perversities."

Accurately rendered and excellently written, this book should appeal to serious students of Romanticism and light fiction lovers alike.

But don't come in expecting easy to digest screams
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a more feminine re-telling of a feminist classic 24 Mar 2004
By Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Theodore Roszak wrote _The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein_ to further explore the character that Mary Shelley based on herself in _Frankenstein_: the foster sister and wife of the scientist main character. Roszak is eerily accurate in his portrayal of some of the most difficult female emotional situations (menstruation, childbirth, and rape), and I loved his invocation of the Reason versus Nature and God versus Science conflicts.
However, Roszak took some risks by choosing the same narrator as Shelley did. By allowing Robert Walton to re-tell the story (upon finding Elizabeth's journals), the deletion of important characters seems even more glaring. Victor's youngest brother, William, was completely left out, and as a result so was the character Justine, who had come to stay with the family. Also never mentioned was Victor Frankenstein's best friend Clavel. Both William and Clavel were victims of his creation before Elizabeth, but were left out by Roszak which marred my enjoyment of the novel somewhat.
For the most part however, I found _The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein_ to be a fascinating read and a wonderful study of a classic work of literature. The most amazing statement lies at the very heart of the novel: the desired result of the alchemic union Victor's mother was planning between Victor and Elizabeth was to stop the masculinization of science. I think Mary Shelley would have understood that.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting approach 4 Dec 2000
By Caterpillar Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I think that although this book is marketed as a prequel or retelling of "Frankenstein" and the author said that this is the book Mary Shelley would have written today, I would disagree. It's not written in a similar manner -- it shifts between her diary and a commentary or interpretation based on the view of her contemporaries. Although the horror aspect is still contained in "Memoirs" it is a horror that focuses on the technological worship of impersonal science. The horror also may be the sexual, psychological, political, physical, and spiritual oppression of women, all of which are explored in some manner in this book. Elizabeth's sexual explorations and themes of "witchcraft" may put some readers off of this book. My personal favorite part of this book was the ecofeminist idea that oppression of nature can be linked to oppression of women -- in other words, that science objectifies and dehumanizes both the natural world and women. These themes might seem a little "out there" to some readers, but may be fascinating to fans of women's studies or liberal minded folk. Certainly well-written.
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