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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not What You Expect, 23 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
A great idea - how would God respond to his own creation - is fitted into a suitably melodramatic plot. No wonder it gripped the Victorian imagination.

Everyone knows Frankenstein - the movies, cartoons, take offs, stage plays and nightmares but many fewer have read the book and to do so is to be enlightened as to what the fuss is all about. Because this is a book that has a real horror at its heart, not though individual squeamish scenes - although there are several of those but by asking the very profound question of how a God should react to his own creation.

In this story Frankenstein (who is the creator not the monster) forms a man out of body parts and is so revolted by his creature that he immediately abandons it and in so doing opens the possibility of it doing either good or evil from its own free will. The genius of the novel is that it is never really clear whether the monster is essentially good or entirely evil but with incredible guile so as to appear susceptible to good, or just confused - like the rest of us. This confusion is the true horror of the book and the murders and terror that the monster enacts are simply melodrama to the reflection of our own souls.

It's not brilliant writing, but bowls along well enough, and the plot gets apace in a Victorian way. There is nothing about this book save its conceit that makes it exceptional - but that conceit is powerful and marvelous. For this theme of what it must be to create life, the responsibilities of the creator and the created, how the created understands itself and its desires and what its creator thinks of his being is marvelous stuff, that I have not come across in any other literature.
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