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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The author at once of my existence and of its unspeakable torments"
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...
Published on 5 Mar 2008 by Nicholas Casley

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars CHAPTER MESS UP
This version of Frankenstein in different to the normal one that everyone knows. In this book chapter 4 is where the creature comes alive on a dreary night of November where in the other books this happens in chapter 5. They have kind of just got rid of chapter 2 and merged it in with 1 and 3 which is annoying especially when referring to the chapters in a essay. Would...
Published 1 month ago by Dylan Williams


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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The author at once of my existence and of its unspeakable torments", 5 Mar 2008
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frankenstein: or `The Modern Prometheus': The 1818 Text (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
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".

Frankenstein's rejection of his creation so soon after having given life to it - indeed, at the very point of giving life to it - after so determined and intense a devotion to the cause, seems to me to mirror the immense shame and repugnance that civilisation can inculcate at the moment of sexual orgasm in `inappropriate circumstances'. Or, given the gender of the book's author, perhaps a more relevant analogy would be giving birth to a child conceived in shameful circumstances. His rejection of his act is absolute and unyielding. He does not return to his studies to rectify his mistakes in the creation of another, or seek to modify the result that he has created. Instead, he turns his back and falls into a great depression.

Meanwhile the monster plays the part of an extraterrestrial. Initially completely alien to his surroundings, Mary Shelley uses this position to allow him to comment as an outsider on the nature of humanity. The monster says how the de Lacey cottage was "the school in which I studied human nature." Thus, he who was the experiment has now become the experimenter. "Perhaps [he remarks], if my first introduction to humanity had been made by a young soldier, burning for glory and slaughter, I should have been imbued with different sensations", than those provided by the de Laceys and their humanistic literature.

On one level the story is akin to `Beauty and the Beast', `Cyrano de Bergerac', the `Elephant Man', or `E.T.'. But why did not Frankenstein simply learn to accept his creation? He is the creator, he is the monster's god. Is this a metaphor on man's place in God's creation? (At one point, he compares his situation explicitly with Adam.) Is this a comment on the Christian religion, when the monster describes Frankenstein as "the author at once of my existence and of its unspeakable torments" in a time of upheaval and speculation in post-Enlightenment but pre-Darwinian educated circles, when deism was becoming a reputable opinion? The monster again: "The fallen angel becomes a malignant devil."

Marilyn Butler's 42-page introduction, is of the usual high standard that one comes to expect from this publisher. She details Mary Shelley's beginnings, her family and her relationship with her husband. She goes on to describe their relationship with the radical science of the period in which they lived. She explains the ghost-story competition context from which the novel arose. There then follows a critique of the novel itself.
There are three appendices to this Oxford World's Classics edition. The first is Mary Shelley's preface to the amended 1831 edition, where she gives details about the inspiration for the tale and the story behind its creation. The second details the changes made to the text, or rather denotes the additions thereto but not (for some reason) the omissions. ... lists these changes and the reasons for them. The third and final appendix is an extract from an 1820 edition of the Quarterly Review, a nineteenth-century Tory version of the London Review of Books. The extract is not a review of Mary Shelley's `Frankenstein', but is principally concerned with the lectures of William Lawrence FRS and whether the life-force and greater mental capacities of humans (compared to other animals) is inherited or `super-added'. It is these extras - and the use of the 1818 text - that make this edition superior to others.

As with all reprints of classic works of literature, I recommend that the so-called introduction (which is really more of a commentary) is best read after the novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich and complex tale, 6 April 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frankenstein Mary Shelley, 1818, 6 Nov 2012
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Frankenstein
Mary Shelley, 1818

Here's another classic story I'm reading for the first time! Frankenstein the novel, as I suspected, is almost nothing like the various incarnations of Frankenstein I've run across over the years. I've seen so many versions of the monster in childrens' shows, comedy specials, skits, and other forms of media, but none of the pop-culture depictions of the monster seem to accurately represent the sadness and abundant emotion of the book.

I shouldn't be surprised at it anymore, but it seems like all British or American literature from the 19th century has to be set inside a frame story--the narrative has to be told to somebody who told somebody who is telling the reading audience about it, or something equally layered. Frankenstein is actually not told by Victor Frankenstein or by his created monster, but by a third party whose main purpose seems to be praising Victor Frankenstein's character to the high heavens.

The story starts out with some guy, Captain Robert Walton, writing to his sister about the weather in St. Petersburg. He's a sea captain and he is preparing for a big voyage to the Arctic, where he hopes something amazing and purposeful awaits him. As his letters continue, it becomes clear that Walton is seriously poetic and he really wants a like-minded best friend because pouring out his heart in well-composed letters to his sister is just not doing justice to the depth of his feelings. But Walton's loneliness doesn't last for too long because his crew soon discovers a dying man floating on a big piece of ice. As the man, Victor, is nursed back to health, he admits to Walton that he has been in the Arctic chasing another person, or rather a "demon" as he calls him. Then Victor begins to share his long, tragic story with the captain.

Victor's thirst for knowledge led him to serious questions about the nature of life and souls. He was a brainiac who devoted himself to the intense study of various educational disciplines, including a few areas of spiritualism and quackery. Time passed and Victor learned how to give life to inanimate biological objects. He cobbled together an eight-fool-tall body, ran an electric current and some other stuff through it, and brought the ugly creature to liiiiiife. But no sooner does his pet project come to life, than Victor runs away from it in disgust. Strangely, it's at this point that I, as a reader, go from feeling a certain fondness for Victor and his obsessive studying to feeling outright revulsion for him because he refuses to take responsibility for something he made.

And I do feel very sorry for the monster, which I did not expect to happen. The monster does some cruel, vile things, but he had no real guidance. He didn't ask to be created and abandoned, and it isn't his fault that his own creator views him with absolute horror. Victor created a life that could have had some value if he had chosen to assign said value to it, but instead he leaves the creature alone in hopes that it will run away and just not be his problem anymore! But it becomes his problem once again when the creature kills his younger brother and frames a servant for the crime.

At one of the climaxes of the story, the creature confronts Victor and talks to him for the first time. The creature has been through a lot of painful encounters with human beings, most of which began with him trying to do something kind and ended with him doing something destructive. He wants Victor to make him a companion so he can live happily ever after with her in the wilderness, but his plans for a monster wedding don't ever come to fruition because Victor sabotages the effort. Victor and his monster proceed in a gruesome game of one-upsmanship where each tries to hurt the other horribly, and they both succeed. When this very short book is over, the body-count is about as high as your typical Shakespearean tragedy: everyone we care about (and some people we don't) has died.

What's the moral of the story, then, if you're looking for one? Perhaps that seeking after too much knowledge or pursuing science for science's sake is a bad idea. Jurassic Park has also taught us that. Another moral or lesson I see in Frankenstein is the importance of compassion and empathy--if Victor had cared for his creation as he ought to, the many, many deaths could have been averted. That's why the story is tragic; a little less obsession and selfishness from our protagonist would have changed everything. Grade: B

Favorite quotes:

-"Thus strangely are our souls constructed, and by such slight ligaments are we bound to prosperity or ruin." (pg 16)

Victor-"But now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. " (pg 26)

Monster-"I will revenge my injuries; if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear, and chiefly towards you my arch-enemy" (pg 80)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Focus on Emotional Tragedy and The Personal Responsibility of The Scientist, 4 Aug 2008
This review is from: Frankenstein: or `The Modern Prometheus': The 1818 Text (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
This book is a "must read" for all science fiction / horror lovers, as you will be able to, as previously pointed out by other reviewers, trace the roots and themes of the genre back to its beginnings.

The depth of the book, however, lies in the poignant questions Shelley raises about scientific discovery and creation. These issues are as valid today as they were at the time and have been literary motifs ever since. Shelley's discussion of these themes makes this book a classic, and as such it should be understood.

If you are only familiar with Frankenstein's monster through film adaptations, you will discover an entirely different story, depicting the monster as a tragic and unloved hero, who turns into a brute following the betrayal by his creator, Victor Frankienstein.

Shelley's story centres around the emotional tragedy endured by the monster rather than on the depiction of his crimes or his outward appearance. In this context, we have to mention that the reader does not even find out how Frankenstein assembled his monster or how he infused him with life. This aspect of the story is entirely left to the reader's imagination.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars stunning., 15 May 2006
By 
Mrs. D. L. Cox (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frankenstein: or `The Modern Prometheus': The 1818 Text (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
open this book anywhere and point your finger. you will instantly find a beautifull quotable piece.

i was moved to the core. a fantastic book that actually taught me a great deal about motherhood and nurture. i wanted to slap victor silly and give the monster a huge hug everytime he encountered the unfairness of this world. it truly was frankenstein who was the monster and the beast a victim in every sence. so sad so bitter, a tale to last the ages. sadly distorted by the film industry. a shame indeed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exploration of some big questions, 14 April 2010
Scientist Victor Frankenstein learns the secret of how to bring life to the non longer living. By constructing a human form out of assembled body parts and giving the form life, Victor creates a creature not meant for the world, and the consequences are chilling.

What I liked most about this novel was the number of philosophical questions it raises: what makes a monster a monster, who is the monster, at what point does knowledge become dangerous, what are the lines that science should not cross, who decides where these boundaries are, what are the consequences of interfering with evolution (for us and for our `creations'), where does religion fit in, what right do humans have to interfere with nature etc...; blended with the human emotions of betrayal, acceptance, loss, regret, repentance and rejection. The blend of science and philosophy is anchored to the human experience through Victor and the monster (who through consciousness feels the same spectrum of human emotion we do).

As others have noted, this is the 1818 version of the text, so differs from the most widely known version. I agree with most people here it is the better version. It seems to be less contrived and more natural, and there is more commentary on science and society to enrich the philosophical side.

I agree that the introductory material is excellent and definitely worth reading.

I would recommended this.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful novel, but be careful about the edition, 24 Nov 2008
By 
William Burn "gingerburn" (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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"Frankenstein" is one of those books one ought to have read, and, as is rarely the case, one that also thoroughly rewards the reading. The figure of the monster is a remarkable creation, and the narrative itself is compelling. For that reason, five stars, without a doubt. However, I've given this edition four stars largely as a warning to students of the novel: this presents the 1818 text, which contains substantial differences to the 1831 text that is more common nowadays. While this (the 1818) text may be more acceptable in scholarly circles, you may well encounter frustrations if others (and in particular teachers) are referring to passages in the later, revised version of the text. Where this book excels, as most Oxford editions do, is in the quality of the editorial material on hand, which is genuinely useful and illuminating. As long as you know what you're getting, you will be very happy with this edition, but if in doubt, check.

The 1831 text is available in the Wordsworth classics edition. Unfortunately, it is much less well served in terms of notes and introductory material.
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3.0 out of 5 stars CHAPTER MESS UP, 26 May 2014
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This version of Frankenstein in different to the normal one that everyone knows. In this book chapter 4 is where the creature comes alive on a dreary night of November where in the other books this happens in chapter 5. They have kind of just got rid of chapter 2 and merged it in with 1 and 3 which is annoying especially when referring to the chapters in a essay. Would recommend buying the other version that everyone knows. Other then that is just your average book printed at cheap price but what can you expect when your paying a couple of pounds.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Monster read, 17 April 2014
After creating a devilish monster, Victor Frankenstein is beset by the beast who he has abandoned. When Frankenstein refuses to create a mate for the creature, it sets about destroying everything dear to Frankensteins heart.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A classic monster tale, 18 Feb 2014
Published in 1818, the tale of a confused and troubled scientist involved in a forbidden and dangerous medical experiment. Incredible story driven by lurches between reality and madness. Original text surpasses the terrible characters created by Hollywood in later years.
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Frankenstein: or `The Modern Prometheus': The 1818 Text (Oxford World's Classics)
Frankenstein: or `The Modern Prometheus': The 1818 Text (Oxford World's Classics) by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Paperback - 5 Mar 1998)
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