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The Original Frankenstein Hardcover – 1 Oct 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 631 customer reviews

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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: 13.1 x 3.8 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (631 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,574,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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

All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! ... Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded... --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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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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Format: 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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Format: 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.
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