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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Throw out everything you thought you knew, and read the original!
Let me start by saying that this was nothing like I expected. Having never seen a movie version of Frankenstein, my only exposure to the story has been through the general references that have been adopted into our culture. The crazed scientist, the twisted assistant, the sweet little girl, the lightning bolts and electricity. None of which actually appear in the book...
Published on 2 Oct 2010 by Miss E. Potten

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please note that it's the 1831 text - not the original 1818 version
It's a superb novel. The only point that I'd want to share is that we were looking for the original 1818 version, but the Wordsworth Classics edition turned out to be the later (substantially revised) version of the novel. It would be really helpful if this detail was added to the Amazon description because it isn't very easy to ascertain what you're buying. Thanks.
Published 6 months ago by Mr AJ Speedy


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Throw out everything you thought you knew, and read the original!, 2 Oct 2010
By 
This review is from: Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus (Paperback)
Let me start by saying that this was nothing like I expected. Having never seen a movie version of Frankenstein, my only exposure to the story has been through the general references that have been adopted into our culture. The crazed scientist, the twisted assistant, the sweet little girl, the lightning bolts and electricity. None of which actually appear in the book! Not that it really matters, because this is a beautiful story.

Victor Frankenstein is an ambitious young man obsessed with 'natural philosophy' - the natural sciences. When his interest turns to theories on reanimation and 'the spark of life', his devotion pays off and he builds a being, a giant of sorts, and succeeds in giving him life. But as this huge creature stirs for the first time, Victor awakens from his single-minded working frenzy, and flees in horror from this primitive monster he's created. What follows is a battle for freedom, happiness - and vengeance. The Creature, left to develop alone, outcast despite his capacity for love, becomes bitter in the face of his loneliness and the hostility of society. He blames Victor for his woes, for deserting him so cruelly - but Victor, in turn, is terrified of the 'demon' he fears he has unleashed. It becomes an all-out war which can only lead to tragedy...

For the reader, there can be no winner in this battle for dominance. Frankenstein, chasing his monster through the bleak landscape of the North, tells his story to the captain of a ship that has rescued him from the ice. The Creature, in turn, tells his own sorry tale to Victor within this narrative. Frankenstein is self-obsessed and blind to his responsibilities, yet perhaps he is right to condemn a being who has caused so much destruction. At the same time, the 'monster' has acted in vengeance against what he perceives to be great injustice, but underneath he is just a man, albeit an outwardly frightening one, looking for companionship and happiness.

The themes are deeply complex and very much of their time. There is the question of scientific ethics, of balancing progress against negative consequences, of setting morality against ambition. This is, of course, still relevant today in the ongoing debates on topics like cloning, GM foods and artificial intelligence. The book also explores the futility of revenge, as each man's growing obsession with destroying the other ultimately becomes their undoing. It discusses what it means to be human, and the effects of rejection on a fragile mind. It combines ideas on the responsibility of parenting and the development and wellbeing of an infant - essentially, Victor is the Creature's father - bringing together the theories of popular thinkers such as Locke (a personality is born of experience, not innate qualities) and Rousseau (a child is innocent until corrupted by society).

The Romantic origin of Shelley's novel is apparent in the beautifully descriptive prose, particularly regarding the natural world. The mountains of Geneva come alive under Shelley's pen, the glaciers and pools and rock faces taking on a life of their own. There are numerous references to the work of other Romantic poets - the reader can almost feel the influence of Mary's husband and friends shining through - and the whole novel is filled with life-threatening fevers, dramatic encounters and passionate madness. Sometimes there was a little too much melodrama for my taste - hence the dropping of one star - but all in all I found this to be a moving and thoughtful story that will definitely be a keeper for me. Highly recommended!
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forget your preconceptions and read a classic., 12 Jan 2005
By 
Ian Tapley "thefragrantwookiee" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus (Paperback)
THE STORY:
An intelligent and promising young student indulges a moment of thoughtless scientific passion and creates life. Horrified at himself, Victor Frankenstein shuns the creature and attempts to continue his life without thinking about it. The creature, however, is lost in an unkind world and he never stops thinking about Frankenstein.
WHAT'S GOOD:
Forget square-heads and green make-up, forget that dreadful modern remake with Kenneth Branagh and Robert DeNiro sit down and read one of the most remarkable science fiction stories ever written. It is basically about two men, Frankenstein and 'the wretch', who are so consumed by passion and pride that they are drawn ever further from the redemption that at times is tantalisingly close. These two men are all too easy to empathise with; Victor being a scientific genius but also scared witless by the horror he feels he has unleashed upon mankind and 'the wretch' (I can't honestly call him monster) who wants only to be loved but is so pained by his loneliness that he lashes out at others. Perhaps my favourite element of the book is the fact that the wretch reads 'Paradise Lost' and, having no concept of fiction, takes it all as complete truth, subtley warping his perception of reality.
WHAT'S BAD:
As with a lot of 19th century literature, this book can be ponderous at times, seeming to deliberately avoid getting on with the story. Also, like a lot of 19th century literature, this book is incredibly depressing. By the time you've read it, you'll be in no doubt that you've read a masterpiece, but you'll also be as miserable as sin.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative creation of a mood of bleak despair, 18 Feb 2007
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus (Paperback)
This is primarily a novel that sets out to create an atmosphere of fear, horror and despair and succeeds admirably in so doing. Mary Shelley must have had an appalling dream but she brought it to life in wonderful, evocative language and at such a young age (only 19 when she wrote the book). The monster is so different from the monster of the films. Here he is no lumbering, stupid brute, but an agile, resourceful and calculating creature who can and does conduct a deep and thoughtful dialogue with his creator when explaining his background story. But at the same time the monster carries out horrible murders of Frankenstein's nearest and dearest and these deaths are shocking when they happen. The science is almost non-existent and we never find out how Frankenstein creates the monster nor indeed what the monster really looks like other than being repulsively hideous. But that is not the purpose of the book, which is to set a mood and raise philosophical questions about the purpose of scientific discovery. And Mary Shelley does this brilliantly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please note that it's the 1831 text - not the original 1818 version, 27 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus (Paperback)
It's a superb novel. The only point that I'd want to share is that we were looking for the original 1818 version, but the Wordsworth Classics edition turned out to be the later (substantially revised) version of the novel. It would be really helpful if this detail was added to the Amazon description because it isn't very easy to ascertain what you're buying. Thanks.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The real Frankenstein, 12 Oct 2010
By 
S. Meadows (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus (Paperback)
If you think that Frankenstein was a dim-witted green monster with a flat head, bolts sticking out his neck and moved slowly in a mummy-like fashion, then please dismiss all such notions from your head as that vision is highly inaccurate.

Without spoiling it too much, the monster was not given a name and Frankenstein was the name of the scientist who made the monster. Another mistake that some people make is in giving Victor Frankenstein the title of Dr. Frankenstein, as he never completed his studies. As for the monster itself, it was yellow, moved with immense speed & grace and was extremely well-spoken, having learned English from, amongst other thing, Paradise Lost.

The book begins very slowly. There is a lot of background detail given that doesn't really add much to the story and by a quarter of the way through the book, I was considering abandoning the book. Thankfully I didn't, for as the story continued I was drawn in to Shelley's world.

The tale touches on themes of ethics in science, love, rejection, denial and a huge dose of revenge. Undoubtedly the best section is the first prolonged conversation that Frankenstein has with his creation. While some sections are tough-going, I would highly recommend this as a classic of literature, and the best antidote to considering Frankenstein as anything like Fred Munster.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An iconic treatise and warning..., 6 Sep 2010
By 
LittleMoon (loving my life in the rain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus (Paperback)
Any attempts to classify Frankenstein as a genre will ultimately fail: it is not horror (as we know it), though it contains elements of horror; it is not science fiction (as we know it) though it contains elements of science fiction. Shelley was no scientist, although she was brought up in a worldly environment that gave her access to all sorts of news about the breakthroughs of modern science. In many ways her works are philosophies, thought experiments and social analyses - Frankenstein arguably the greatest of all, or at least, the one that has established itself most firmly in our cultural consciousness.

Frankenstein is not about tomato-ketchup blood and guts, dark towers and lightning bolts, nor is it about detailed descriptions of the piecing together of dead bits of flesh, or the science of its eventual animation. Those looking for cheap thrills and grisly murder need go no further.

What the novel does is to question the moral boundaries of science and progress at any price - a theme even more relevant today than it was then, with human scientific interference in natural processes (think cloning, genetic engineering, AI) as prevalent as ever. It questions the notion of the meaning of life, of nature and nurture, of parenting and responsibility, of birth and the female role, of creation and God.

Shelley does this through the juxtaposition of the narratives of "man" and "monster" so that by the end of the novel the distinctions are by no means as clear as they might appear. Women are on the margins, passive recipients (victims) of the consequences of male actions; they are the receivers of letters, not the writers: Shelley, all too aware of her status as a female "author" at that time - the novel was originally published anonymously.

I want to say more about the fine prose, the deliberate structuring, the unique and edgy subject matter ahead of its time, the almost mythical background to the conception of the story, the prophetic warning implicit in its pages, and its continued relevance nearly 200 years after its publication. Instead I must conclude with a flourish that Frankenstein is an iconic and provocative story, the power and resonance of which stretches way, way beyond the printed page, and yes, you SHOULD read it.

Please note: This review is from the 1993 Wordsworth Classics edition, which is based upon the revised 1831 version of Frankenstein - it is seen in critical circles as being more conservative (with Elizabeth becoming an adopted stranger, rather than cousin, for example). The introduction by Dr Siv Jansson is invaluable, offering various critical perspectives in plain English, and makes this perfect for the generally interested reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frankenstein: Or, the story of a story of a story, 21 April 2013
This review is from: Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus (Paperback)
It is, in fact, true that Frankenstein, the book, is terribly different from the popular mythos that we all share. The monster does not get out from the lab and starts to terrorize a town, just to be promptly followed by citizens with torches. Nor is Frankenstein a mad scientist. As I finished the book I realized, to my surprise, that the phrase "It's alive!" is not even said. The difference is great between book and movie(s).
However, it is a great read and is, justly, considered a "classic". Mary Shelley writes well. And for a 200-some page book, it has decent - not great - pacing. It is incredibly hard to realize that Shelley had only nineteen years old when she started Frankenstein but, alas!, it is true, and she has done a good job.

The rest of the review will contain (minor) spoilers. So, I advise to continue reading at your own choice and risk, although the thought of spoiling a 200 year old book is somewhat troubling.

"Frankenstein" follows the tale of Victor Frankenstein, a Swiss scientist that discovers the secret to create life. With this knowledge, he creates a being that, because of his "wretchedness" - basically, he is a monster, and thus incredibly ugly and enormous (although I fairly enjoyed Shelley's justification for this) - gets rejected from society and decides that his creator shall suffer for his despair. Vengeance becomes the theme of the book, driving the monster, and then Frankenstein, in their actions. Amidst pursue in the North Pole, Victor Frankenstein becomes isolated from land, in a floating platform of ice, and is then rescued by Robert Walton, a British scientist-in-training, to whom he recollects his tale and it is from this perspective - the telling of the story by Frankenstein to Walton - that the book is written.

Although, as I've said, the book is generally well written, I had some problems with it. Both with the characters, and with the telling of the story. Let's start with the characters.

Victor Frankenstein is a mess. He is depressed, angry, vengeful, and probably bipolar. This makes for a hero that is hard to support, when most of the book is passed characterizing his brooding thoughts. It kinda makes him an anti-hero, which somewhat works. However, Frankenstein is also a coward - he passes months without making a decision on his fate or the monster's, just feeling sick and sorry for himself - and, I found, hypocrite - by moving Walton to abandon his science pursues, so the young scientist does not end up like him, but then trying to convince Walton to finish his task and kill the monster, which would render Walton equally miserable. This, as I said, makes for a bad hero and a sightly less bad anti-hero.
The monster is a good character. At some point, Frankenstein says that his monster is capable of persuasive talk, which, well, is true. His toils and his tale are moving and, for that, he deserves my respect.

As for the way the story was told, my problem resides with the fact that the book is written as a letter. It does not feel like a letter, however, but it is supposed to be a recollection by Walton to his sister, of the story Frankenstein tells him. The problem with this is that it is a story within a story. And when the monster tells his tale to Frankenstein, which is telling it to Walton, it becomes a story within a story within a story, basically preceding Inception by almost two-hundred years.

Also, we're supposed to believe that the monster speaks perfect english, and is capable of planning a revenge, when he only (kinda) reads three books in his entire, somewhat short, life. That is hard to believe and whenever he spoke, I only closed my eyes - metaphorically - and let this fault pass. His speech does not feel different from Frankenstein's, which in turn does not feel different from Walton's. In this remains my main gripe, although I'm willing to consider it a stroke of genius by Shelley, never forgetting that it is Walton who is telling the story and, therefore, it should never change the style of writing/speech. If that was her intention, then my respect for her only increases.

Lastly, the word "wretch" - or "wretched", or "wretchedness" - is said almost constantly, to the point when it started to bother me. But that is a minor fault, and maybe other readers did not experience it.

Concluding, "Frankenstein" is a good book. Its story is imaginative but had problems which I could not surpass, receiving 3 stars as a rating. I would also gladly have given 3.5 stars, never 4 however. Had I been born in mid 1800's, this would probably be my favorite book. But I was born in late 1900's, so it is not.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!, 6 April 2014
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This review is from: Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus (Paperback)
After reading this at GCSE, it was great to read it again at an older age, it's a brilliant book and the print is just about right for reading
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5.0 out of 5 stars Friends with Shelly and Byron, 30 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus (Paperback)
This amazing novel was produced out of a simple dare between friends "Who can write the scariest story" Mary won! I adore this book, and I shall be introducing my niece and nephew to such finely written classics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This story is not what you think!, 25 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus (Paperback)
If like me you just think of the Frankenstein movies and don't fancy reading it - just try it. Those films do not reflect the beauty of this book, the story is so tragic. I am so glad I listened to a friends recommendation and read this as it opened my eyes to the real story.
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Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus
Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Paperback - 1 May 1992)
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