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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 April 2016
This is an excellent scholarly edition of 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley. This volume consists of two distinct versions of the novel. On the one hand, there's Mary Shelley's earliest draft; and on the other, there's a revised draft by Percy Shelley.

So for the first time we can read this class novel as Mary originally intended. It's somewhat shorter, and faster paced than the finished book, as was published in 1818. In fact, Percy revised the draft quite considerably - crossing out many words, altering sentence structure, and adding some 5,000 words to the manuscript. Here we can plainly see the differences between the early manuscript and the final publication.

The editor of this volume, Charles Robinson, provides a 20 page introduction, exploring the differences between the two versions.

This book is nicely presented, on good quality paper. If you're interested in the development of the Frankenstein novel, you'll appreciate this book.
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First published anonymously Mary Shelley’s novel has entered our literary canon and made Frankenstein a name we all know, especially as when such things as ‘Frankenstein Science’ is mentioned. I think most people are aware of how this novel came about, with a famous stay the Shelley’s had with Lord Byron on Lake Geneva. It is correct in some ways but a bit misleading in others. Mary took up the challenge of writing a story and was planning on a short tale, but as things took on steam, and encouraged by Percy this instead became a full length novel that took some time to come together in its entirety.

It is quite ironic that on first publication in 1818 this didn’t meet with a rush of buyers, and was belittled quite a bit by the critics, the story only really taking off with the third edition in 1831, where Mary had made a number of revisions. Nowadays this text, the original 1818 version is preferred by scholars and others as it carries more of the original spirit and intent of the tale.

As Robert Walton writes to his sister as he starts his voyage to the North Pole he little expects to find someone such as Victor Frankenstein traversing the icy vastness. As Victor is taken aboard the ship he recounts his tale to Walton, one that is tragic in scope. Victor uses his knowledge as we all know to create life, but as can happen so often he has little thought of what the consequences can be, especially as he loathes his creation. What follows is a game of cat and mouse between creator and created as they are both hell-bent on the destruction of the other.

Taking in the troubles that science can cause unabated this also explores human emotions, both good and bad where something strange and different can cause hate. There is also murder and revenge here, as well as thoughts on suicide, making this quite poignant. As you read this tale you don’t actually hate Victor for what he has created, or indeed the monster that has been given life, as this shows us our own inhumanities and how our perceptions can cause problems. Still relevant to us today we can see in this tale such warnings as the rise of Hitler and fascism as well as racism and science with no ethics or morals.

In all this is a wonderful piece of gothic literature, and arguably the first proper modern science fiction tale, as this doesn’t fall into fantasy, or as sci-fi had been used up unto then as allegory.
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on 17 May 2017
Shelley’s novel is transgressive in its content, and more transgressive in its nature – written by a female (at age 19!) under a pseudonym to penetrate the public approval. This novel explores human emotions, good and bad, in response to the ‘Other’ in true gothic fashion. The grunting, green-faced, bolt-bearing monster depicted by film and media is a pale imitation of Shelley’s masterpiece – but the original is a 'blue-print' for all monster creations. Despite being a cautionary tale on how nature, which is essentially good, can be corrupted by ill treatment – contemporary depictions have departed from the original characterization of an extremely well-spoken monster with immense speed and grace.

PLOT (4.5/5)
An intelligent and ambitious young student indulges a moment of thoughtless scientific passion and creates life. Horrified at his creation, Victor Frankenstein shuns the creature and attempts to discard it from his life and thoughts. The creature, however, is lost in an unkind world and seeks affection, and upon rejection then seeks revenge.

STUDENT NOTES (5/5)
+ Although many reviewers note The York Notes version usefulness at GCSE, I found in instrumental at helping me receive an A* at A-Level as well:
a) The (character, theme and quotation) analysis is brilliant, clear and precise.
b) The exam questions, key quotations and chapter summaries were invaluable
c) The responses to the text, both modern and those from Shelley's contemporaries are invaluable (especially the feminist and psychoanalytical essays).

CHARACTERS (5/5)
+ Both main characters are easy to empathise with despite being completely at heads – both Victor (the ambitious scientist who realises his overreach and attempts to redeem himself) and the monster (whose fragile psyche is birthed from rejection)

STYLE (4/5)
+ The original, but nevertheless still one of the most remarkable science fiction stories ever written, its relevance persists today as scientific discovery journeys further than before into ethical ambiguity (GM food, AI, cloning) and discrimination still exists in all its forms.
+ Typically Romantic and beautifully descriptive prose, particularly regarding the natural world.
- The book begins very slowly with excessive detail, and the epistolary form makes it hard to convey any sense of suspense. But if you persist despite this you will be drawn in to Shelley's world.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 June 2016
I bought this for my daughter as she is studying Frankenstein for the 2017 english exam.

She has already read the book supplied for lessons/mock exams in school and used the revision guide which I purchased and throughly enjoyed it.

The school recommended buying it as a useful book to continue the revision now that they have moved on to Macbeth.

What I also like is it has blown away all the myth and given her the story in its true form.

I am pleased this isn't going to be a book that she despises due having to read it again or indeed a book that lay gathering dust from lack of use.
She is 15, studying Frankenstein and throughly enjoys the story.
Not only that but she is really interested in Mary Shelley which makes it all so much more gratifying to buy.
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on 2 May 2015
Enough has been said already about the story that I can add little. It is a classic of English literature but perhaps also very much of it's time with some of the less probable events ( the monster learns to read by observing from afar then reads some weighty treatise of philosophy, or wandering the wilderness of Central Europe just so happens upon Victor's younger brother). It is also rather bleak and melodramatic, with the main protagonist proclaiming himself the most miserable being even before the worst of his mishaps. That said, it is a very poetic and beautifully written work raising all sorts of questions about the duty of a creator to his creation. It seems odd to a modern sensibility that someone able to instill life in inanimate flesh cannot render a female creation sterile and thus unable to bear children.

These minor gripes aside this is another beautifully presented volume from Barnes & Noble and will sit handsomely on any book lovers shelf - in my case beside the sumptuously blood red Barnes and Noble edition of Dracula - the natural companion.
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on 8 November 2012
Which edition of Frankenstein should be taught? There are significant differences in the novel published in 1818, and the revised novel, published in 1831. Theory and practice does not assume that the author's final edition is definitive. For example, it's believed that the first edition of Frankenstein has greater biographical context than the later. The context includes the recent death of Mary Shelley's first baby, her dissatisfaction with Percy Shelley's Romantic ideology, her political observation of the aftermath of the French Revolution in 1814-1816, and her scientific curiosity regarding the experiments with galvanic electricity.

The difference between the two editions include a thematic disparity concerning the role of fate in relationship to destiny, the extent of Frankenstein responsibility for his actions, the representation of nature and family, and the role of Clerval. There are two preliminary observations, which include the disparity between Mary Shelley's original style as reflected in her surviving manuscript, and the chronological account of the manuscript given by James Rieger, the editor of the only reprint of the 1818 text, which is inaccurate and prejudicial in favor of Percy Shelley. Therefore, students should be warned of deceiving statements, unwarranted speculations, half-truths, and falsehoods.

Rieger credits Percy with phrasing the contrast between Frankenstein and Elizabeth and between the Swiss republic and less fortunate nations. As well, Rieger proposes that it was Percy that used Mont Blanc for its metaphoric value to power. He also credits Percy for enlisting a journey to England to create a female monster, for editing the final pages, and correcting Mary's "frequent grammatical solecisms, her spelling, and awkward phrasing" (206). Finally, Rieger credited Percy with assisting at "every point in the book's manufacture was so extensive that one hardly knows whether to regard him as editor or minor collaborator (Rieger xviii).

As Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, she did hand the manuscript off to her husband, Percy Shelley, for editing. However, she "did not owe the suggestion of one incident, nor scarcely of one train of feeling" to Percy Shelley (Riegar 229). However, there was an exception: Percy suggested that Frankenstein's trip to England be proposed by him rather than his father. It is true that Percy suggested numerous corrections, around a thousand, on the original manuscript pages. The corrections were mostly accepted by Mary.

Regarding the comparison of Elizabeth's character to Victor Frankenstein's, Percy did expand it, but he did not initiate the comparison. He did not develop a comparison of Switzerland's republicanism with other lesser nations. The description of Mont Blanc and the Mer de Glace are based mostly on Mary's observations. In truth, Mary's grammatical errors were infrequent, and her phrasing often times more graceful than her husbands. Rieger's suggestion that Percy may have been a "minor collaborator" is unjustifiable. Rieger's opinions appear to have been sexist-since he insinuates that she could not have created this story on her own.

With that being noted, Percy did change the last lines of the novel. Mary penned Walton's final view of the Creature thus:

He sprung from the cabin window as he said this upon an ice raft that lay close to the vessel and pushing himself off he was carried away by the waves and I soon lost sight of him in the darkness and distance.

Percy changed it to:

He sprung from the cabin-window, as he said this, upon the ice-raft which lay close to the vessel. He was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in darkness and distance. (Rieger 221)

Mary's version leaves the troubling possibility that the Creature may still be alive. But Percy's asserts that the Creature is lost provides the reader with more closure of demonic threats.

By far, Percy's revisions were largely stylistic. Often times, he changed Mary's diction and colloquial sentence structure into more refined and complex structures. He is largely responsible for the ornate prose style. Mary's writing was more sentimental rather than abstract, and more rhythmic rather than flat prose. For example, here is Mary on Frankenstein's fascination with supernatural phenomena:

Nor were these my only visions. The raising of ghosts or devils was also a favorite pursuit and if I never saw any I attributed it rather to my own inexperience and mistakes than want of skill in my instructors.

Percy's revision:

Nor were these my only visions. The raising of ghosts or devils was a promise liberally accorded by my favourite authors, the fulfillment of which I most eagerly sought; and if my incantations were always unsuccessful, I attributed the failure rather to my own inexperience and mistakes, than to a want of skill or fidelity in my instructors. (Rieger 34)

Percy used more learned language and terms. As well, he eliminated Mary's colloquial phrases, which include-from have to possess, from place to station, from time to period, from smallness to minuteness, from die to perish, and from mind to understanding.

The differences between the first, 1818, and second, 1831, editions of Frankenstein, correspond with Mary Shelley's philosophical changes. By the deaths of Clara, William, and Percy; by the betrayals of Byron and Jane Williams; and by her economic dire straits, Mary Shelley philosophy changed-events are decided by an indifferent destiny of fate. The values in the first edition-nature is a nurturing force that punishes only those who transgress against its rights, Victor is morally responsible for his actions, that the Creature is driven to evil by social and parental neglect, that families similar to the De Laceys, who love all their children equally, offer the best hope for happiness, and that egotism creates the greatest suffering in the world. All those notions are rejected in the second edition.

In the 1818 edition, Frankenstein possesses freewill: he could have abandoned his quest for the "principle of life,' he could have cared for his Creature, and he could have protected Elizabeth. But in the 1831 edition, Frankenstein is a mere pawn within the force of nature, which is beyond his understanding. Victor says, "Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction" (Rieger, app. 239). As well, Elizabeth changes her tune to fatalism: "I think our placid home, and our contented hearts are regulated by the same immutable laws" (Rieger, app. 243).

In the 1831 edition, Mary changes from her organic nature to a mechanistic nature. She portrays nature as a juggernaut or a mighty machine, an "imperial" tyrant (Rieger, appl. 249). In this edition, human beings represent puppets. Victor's sins are not egotistical "presumption and rash ignorance," but rather bad influences, which include his father's ignorance, or Professor Waldman's Mephistophelian manipulations. Victor's sin is not his failure to love and care for his Creature, but rather his original decision to construct a human being. Victor is portrayed as a victim rather than creator of evil. Clerval, who originally functioned as a being of moral virtue, is now portrayed as an equally ambitious being of fame and power, a future colonial imperialist.

Thus in the final 1831 edition, Mary Shelley disclaims responsibility for her progeny and insist that she remained passive before it, "leaving the core and substance of it untouched" (Rieger 229). Invention "can give form to dark, shapeless substances, but cannot bring into being the substance itself" (Rieger 226). Imperial nature, the thing-in-itself, is triumphant. Mary's imagination can mold shapeless darkness into a hideous monster. Similar to Victor, Mary has become an unwilling "author of unalterable evils" (211).

The changes in diction and philosophical context between the three versions of Frankenstein-the manuscript, the 1818 edition, and the 1831 edition, make this an ideal text for classes in editing, or theory. From the perspective of deconstructive criticism, Frankenstein portrays what Julia Kristeva calls "the questionable subject-in-process," both a text and an author without stable boundaries. However, the 1818 edition presents a more stable and coherent conception of the character of Victor Frankenstein and of Mary Shelley's political and moral ideology.
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VINE VOICEon 27 April 2014
Frankenstein, or more correctly, Frankentein's Monster, is something known very well in popular culture. Most, when they hear the word Frankenstein conjure up the image of the moaning giant with bolts in his neck popularised throughout 20th century film and television, so I was surprised to discover just how different the original monster in the book is from the one we have come to know.

The story is presented in epistolary form, within the frame of correspondence between Captain Robert Walton and his sister, Margaret. Captain Walton tells the tale of how his crew rescued Victor Frankenstein from what would undoubtedly have been a frozen death during their excursion toward the North Pole. From this chance rescue, Victor recounts to Captain Walton the story of how he ended up so far North, explaining to them precisely what was the creature the crew saw pass them a few hours before they rescued Frankenstein.

What follows is, in essence, Victor Frankenstein's life story. Beginning with his childhood we come to discover how Victor became acquainted with outdated ideas on Natural Philosophy and what led him to his fascination with life and how life can be created. He recounts the tale of his work in creating the monster that came to be his torturer and come to know of his revulsion of his creation once life was given to it. It is this revulsion of the creature and its subsequent rejection which sets in motion a chain of horrific events perpetrated by the monster which brings Victor to his current state; being rescued by the captain.

I won't go into much detail from what I have already said about the story as it is something that is best discovered yourself while reading the story. Many other reviewers have written about how different the book really is from the image of the Frankenstein's Monster we have come to know in popular culture. Most striking is the monster's acquired education and eloquence through his observance of a family over the course of a number of years. The crimes that are committed at the hands of the monster, through his acquired use of language, allow him to explain his motivations and his internal mental torments which thus make him a sympathetic creature. The crimes he has committed are ones of true abhorrence, so perhaps for some it may be difficult to feel that sympathy, but it is the rejection by his creator and his abject loneliness, brought on from being the first and only of his kind, that compels him to act the way he does.

The story is truly compelling and sometimes legitimately scary, yet the tale of Frankenstein's monster is perhaps allegorical of the way in which life, happiness and acceptance are viewed, especially in the classical world. Perhaps the monster is even a metaphor for our own pursuit of love, companionship and the struggle to come to terms with our creator (God). In fact, there is reference made to the Biblical 'Adam' in the story, to whom the monster seems to relate, in that Adam's existence was only really complete and satisfied when he had his 'Eve' and the monster's motivation was simply to gain his own 'Eve'.

The edition I bought was of the Clothbound Classics series and it has a look and feel to it that makes it a welcome and proud addition to any book shelf, so I would strongly recommend that you pick this up. It really is something to be enjoyed.
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on 14 May 2017
Very powerful. Emotionally incredible. I found the characters very interesting-whether the monster truly was evil, and Frankenstein responsible for his fate, or if the monsters behaviour was akin to an uncontrolled unloved child, who easily overreacted, then tortured himself for his wrongdoings, yet continued to subconsciously/uncontrollably kill in anguish and despair. Hard to read though, slow going, complex. Will take u a while! Also rather depressing. Otherwise very interesting.
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on 2 February 2015
My New Year's resolution was to start reading books more. I have only a 3 chapters to go now. This is a lot more in depth than the film(s). I am finding it most fascinating with the characterisations that Mary Shelley gives. It also gives an inkling into her psyche on the night in question with Byron and Shelley (her husband). Don't forget there was a huge storm on that particular night they wrote their stories.

I can't imagine what life would be like without Mary Shelley having wrote such a book. I think it got GPs, specialists and scientists from when it got published not to fear going "over the boundaries" of surgery, biology, etc.. Neurology might have never existed as it does today. Thank You Mary!!
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on 25 July 2015
Bought this for school study. It's typical oldy-worldy prose. Basically, there's no point reading it if you don't like that style of literature. Shelley's style is boring and complicated and she takes a very long time to make her point. Her characters aren't very well rounded or believable and the outcome of the story is thoroughly miserable. However, if you're a fan of the Gothic I suppose you would consider this as a "must-read." In terms of studying, this edition was a good choice for making notes in the margins and highlighting etc. Served its purpose.
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