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The Original Frankenstein [Hardcover]

Charles Robinson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 14.98 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Oct 2008
In the summer of 1816, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, then eighteen years old, began to write the novel Frankenstein after she and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley took part in a ghost-story competition at Lord Byron's villa by Lake Geneva. Over the next nine months -- a period which saw their return to England in autumn 1816 and subsequent marriage -- she (with Percy) drafted the entire novel in a form materially different from the two standard editions of 1818 and 1831 which were based on a later fair copy. Until now, no one has been able to read what Mary Shelley herself initially wrote in this original draft of the novel. Going back to the unique draft manuscript of the text held in the Bodleian Library, Charles E. Robinson has teased out Percy Shelley's amendments, isolating them from the story in Mary Shelley's hand. Both texts - with and without Percy's interventions - are presented in this edition, allowing us for the first time to read the story in Mary's original hand and also to see how Percy edited his wife's prose. The results are fascinating. We read a more rapidly paced novel that is arranged in different chapters. Above all, we hear Mary's genuine voice which sounds to us more modern, more immediately colloquial than her husband's learned, more polished style. To this day, Frankenstein remains the most popular work of science fiction. This edition promises to redefine the ways we read the story and perceive the act of its creation.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: The Bodleian Library (1 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851243968
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851243969
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 908,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the masterpieces of nineteenth-century Gothicism. While stay-ing in the Swiss Alps in 1816 with her lover Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and others, Mary, then eighteen, began to concoct the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the monster he brings to life by electricity. Written in a time of great personal tragedy, it is a subversive and morbid story warning against the dehumanization of art and the corrupting influence of science. Packed with allusions and literary references, it is also one of the best thrillers ever written. Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus was an instant bestseller on publication in 1818. The prototype of the science fiction novel, it has spawned countless imitations and adaptations but retains its original power.This Modern Library edition includes a new Introduction by Wendy Steiner, the chair of the English department at the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Scandal of Pleasure. Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in 1797 in London. She eloped to France with Shelley, whom she married in 1816. After Frankenstein, she wrote several novels, including Valperga and Falkner, and edited editions of the poetry of Shelley, who had died in 1822. Mary Shelley died in London in 1851. "From the Trade Paperback edition."

Book Description

'It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open . . .' Frankenstein --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By Ian Thumwood TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "cursed, cursed creator." 22 Mar 2005
By bernie TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Victor grew up reading the works of Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Albertus Magnus, the alchemists of the time. Toss in a little natural philosophy (sciences) and you have the making of a monster. Or at least a being that after being spurned for looking ugly becomes ugly. So for revenge the creature decides unless Victor makes another (female this time) creature, that Victor will also suffer the loss of friends and relatives. What is victor to do? Bow to the wishes and needs of his creation? Or challenge it to the death? What would you do?

Although the concept of the monster is good, and the conflicts of the story well thought out, Shelly suffers from the writing style of the time. Many people do not finish the book as the language is stilted and verbose for example when was the last time you said, "Little did I then expect the calamity that was in a few moments to overwhelm me and extinguish in horror and despair all fear of ignominy of death."

Much of the book seems like travel log filler. More time describing the surroundings of Europe than the reason for traveling or just traveling. Many writers use traveling to reflect time passing or the character growing in stature or knowledge. In this story they just travel a lot.

This book is definitely worth plodding through for moviegoers. The record needs to be set strait. First shock is that the creator is named Victor Frankenstein; the creature is just "monster" not Frankenstein. And it is Victor that is backwards which added in him doing the impossible by not knowing any better. The monster is well read in "Sorrows of a Young Werther," "Paradise Lost," and Plutarch's "Lives." The debate (mixed with a few murders) rages on as to whether the monster was doing evil because of his nature or because he was spurned?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dreadfully good... 7 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback
I was probably blessed in that, before I read this hands-down classic, I hadn't seen any film adaptations of it, not even the famous 1931 version that created the iconic Halloween costume. I had a faint inkling of the story but not much else and I'm more than glad that I began reading with little of these preconceptions, and thus finishing it made it all the more worthwhile. This is one of those books that leaves you with the "I've just read a classic" feeling.

Using the letters of Walton, captain of an Arctic vessel, as a the framing device, Shelley is able to launch the reader into her dark world of galvanism and horror that truly pigeonhole this novel into the Gothic genre. The brutality of the things inflicted upon the poor Victor Frankenstein by his creation are told with a gripping and intense voice, one that speaks often about his traumatised mind - it is for this reason that I have dropped one star from five, as at a few points in the novel I felt that these passages were a little too excessive and rambling, but it is this psychological depth that gives the book its impact. It's rare that I feel genuinely sorry for a character, but Victor Frankenstein is now an exception due to the sheer number of tragedies that befall him.

Similar to other novels of the genre such as The Monk, several of the chapters are taken up by an account given by the Monster himself, something which I never expected - I was under the impression due to Hollywood cliches that the creature couldn't talk! This narrative is in itself heartbreaking, due to the Monster's lack of human contact, his slow shunning of society and his descent into bitter twistedness that forces him to commit all manner of terrifying deeds.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book to study for my A Levels.
This book is a classic because its story of passion, great mistakes and remorse can, I think, be applied to so many. It is timeless. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely
The book itself has a wonderful design and feel to it. You will not be disappointed with your purchase. A great addition to your bookshelf.
Published 22 days ago by frederic shirley
5.0 out of 5 stars A wholesome and thought-provoking tale.
I wasn't expecting this classic to read so easily. Wonderful writing by Shelley that flows and stimulates the imagination with every sentence. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Ros
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy read
A great adventure, with some thought provoking ideas. The narrator was at times a little frustrating, but overall, a good read.
Published 1 month ago by Gruffalo
3.0 out of 5 stars not read all the way
I had started reading this book and got distracted, I then started another book and unfortunately 50 shades books came out and I did not get back to it yet.. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Janette
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!
Excellent service and product. As expected! Highly recommended and would purchase again from this seller. Delivery was quick and goods arrived undamaged.
Published 1 month ago by Mr. N. Hyndman
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic
Marvellous prose, archaic but thoughtful, not at all what Hollywood has done with it. I thoroughly recommend anyone read it as a classic but also to get the actual insight of this... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Anne-Marie Upton
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Tale
A great read, giving more of the monster's perspective than any of the movie versions I've seen. It can be a bit wordy and over descriptive at times, but that was the writing style... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Stressed Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Free and fun to read with imagination not needing a power supply or mouse and keyboard i highly recommend this book
Published 3 months ago by Osmics
4.0 out of 5 stars very good book, it's alright
Well I'm just writing that it could be improved by an 11 or 12 year old but hey, it's not that bad, I mean give it a try cuz in my opinion there's nothing wrong in trying!!! M-Z
Published 4 months ago by M-Z
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