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ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED
BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP


A timeless, terrifying tale of one man's obsession to create life -- and the monster that became his legacy.

EACH ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES:
A concise introduction that gives readers important background information
A chronology of the author's life and work
A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context
An outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations
Detailed explanatory notes
Critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work
Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction
A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience

Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potential.
SERIES EDITED BY CYNTHIA BRANTLEY JOHNSON
Published: Pocket Books on
ISBN: 9781416501831
List price: $6.99
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Written with just as much melodrama as you'll see in every film adaptation, Shelly's novel is nonetheless still quite powerful. Frankenstein still allows parallels to be drawn with our times despite being originally published nearly 200 years ago. For all its symbolism it remains a very human story.more
A great read. Spectacular language. Brilliant display of imagination, the book is the real genial to the modern science fiction.more
I read through this in one sitting. Chilling in places, but full of humanity. Rich and colorful language that resonates long after it's over. I laughed the first time I realized that this covers both the Frankenstein and the Bride of Frnakenstein movies!more
If you haven't read this book, you should! Movies about the Frankenstein monster don't do him justice. When you read this book you will definitely understand a lot of the monster's actions and sympathize with him.more
The original novel by Mary Shelley is a very different beast than most of those that have made it to film or TV. There is, for example, no digging up of dead bodies, no talk of reanimation. Rather it would appear that the zealous young scientist has figured out how to animate a constructed being. The monster, or "demon" as he is often called in the book, was made bigger than a man to facilitate the finer aspects of his construction, but he is also represented as being faster, stronger, tougher, and perhaps smarter than most men. While he espouses high ideals, he sees no conflict between those high ideals and murdering of a human being.

In religious terms, the demon is soulless. In psychological terms, he is a sociopath -- although one could argue that his creator did absolutely nothing to nurture him, love him, or inculcate social mores into him. In philosophical terms, he is a terrifying example of man's arrogance and his abrogation of natural law.

This is a remarkable novel for a 19- to 21-year-old woman to have penned. Some argue that, relying on the idea of scientific experimentation, it is the first science fiction novel. If it is a horror story, it is horror in the old-fashioned sense of someone defying moral laws or decency and being repaid with an appropriate (and ghastly) comeuppance.

The writing doesn't include the kind of whiz-bang pseudo-scientific detail that informs so much of modern science fiction, and at times the writing falls prey to that 19th-century tendency toward purple prose. For some readers, however, that may be a plus.

It's also important as a major contribution to Western literature from a woman's pen. The first edition of the book, I have read, was published anonymously (another example of that saying that "Anonymous was a woman"), but in later editions, Shelley listed herself as its author.more
Easy and quick enough to read, a bit wordy. Interesting concept.more
For those who have not read the novel and only been subjected to film versions, it's "nothing" like the movies. The doctor, not the monster, is named Frankenstein and, the monster fully develops as a sentient being, not as a green, square-headed zombie with bolts stuck in the side of his head! The story is heavily influenced by Milton's Paradise Lost and some radical social theory at the time, something along the lines that a man's nature is most profoundly influenced in reaction to his societal upbringing, an earlier version of "it takes a village."

Frankenstein is a book that definitely bears rereading. There are multiple layers and approaches to take to the story: literally, emotionally, philosophically and metaphorically. On the basic linear narrative level, it is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young ambitious man who leaves home and pursues his studies in Ingolstadt, Germany. His interests lie in the life sciences and his passion leads him to the secret of reanimating dead flesh into a living, sentient being. Mary Shelley, pulls the reader into the pathos and angst of both Frankenstein and his unnamed creature by creating pathos- and angst-ridden first person narratives into the story for both characters. Philosophically, there's plenty of material to vet: theism, existentialism, free will, fate vs destiny, Nature vs Nurture... The author makes several allusions to Milton's Paradise Lost; but comparisons to Dante's Inferno from The Divine Comedy are equally obvious and relevant. Milton's and Dante's works deal with the fall from divine grace and the soul's state of disgrace and, like Milton's and Dante's works, the listener cannot help but wonder if the story of Frankenstein is also a reflection of an interior journey.

Simon Vance narrates the Tantor edition of Frankenstein. HIs consummate skill with character-work comes to the fore and, bears an uncanny resemblance to his voices for The Millennuim Trilogy :-)

Redacted from the original blog review at dog eared copy, Frankenstein; 11/04/2011more
SPOILER ALERT:


Did anyone else find Dr. Frankenstein a hand-wringing, whiney annoying little baby?
more
I want very much to like this book. I've had to read it several times for various classes but I've never actually made it through the whole thing. It puts me to sleep. I found all the discussions about it interesting, and I very much appreciate the importance of the tomb. I just can't seem to read it all the way through.more
This and Anna Karenina are as close as I know to perfect. The only thing that holds Frankenstein back is the writing style; at times you're reminded that Shelley was only 18 when she wrote it. The plot and pacing are perfect, and the scenes are terrific - particularly the exquisite first bit of the monster's story - but there are sometimes some minor rough patches in the sentences.

It's a warning, of course, about creating things we don't understand. Everyone knows that. What I'm interested by, though, and where I think some people misinterpret Frankenstein, is that Frankenstein's monster isn't a flawed creation. Some people think the warning is that we overreach and create...well, monsters, right? But Frankenstein's creation is instinctively good. He's smart, rational and kind, until he's irrevocably alienated. It's not in the creation that Frankenstein fails; it's in the raising of it.

So if Shelley is warning us against playing God, it's not because she thinks we can't create something wonderful. It's that she doesn't trust us to know what to do with it.more
3.5 stars

Ok, so it’s one of the big two of the great classic monster stories: Dracula and Frankenstein…sort of a literary Beatles and the Rolling Stones scenario. Which do you think is better? Your choice may say a lot about you. Considered a classic both in the realms of science fiction and horror and even granted the distinction to be part of the literary cannon, the pedigree of Mary Shelley’s _Frankenstein_ is pretty much impeccable. This was actually my second attempt at reading the book, however, the first being stymied some years ago by the morose, and seemingly endless, philosophizing of the monster. Somehow this didn’t bother me this time around, and I was able to enjoy Shelley’s nightmare tale and appreciate its classic status. To me the book reads almost like a primer in the Romantic ethos, not surprising considering its author who was a member of one of the greatest literary circles of the Romantic movement. From the emblematic poetry quoted throughout and the many, many (many) paens to the revelatory aspects of wild and majestic Nature to the existential philosophizing central to all of the characters and the combination of hopefulness with despair, this book has the Romantic movement tattooed on its soul.

Regardless of the fact that many see this as the birthing point of science fiction due to young Frankenstein’s pseudo-scientific attempts to create life, I think that these sfnal elements hold a distant second place to the more poetic and philosophical ones in the story. To me it isn’t the cautionary tale of the dangers of scientific progress that is paramount, but rather that of the family. I think _Frankenstein_ is ultimately more concerned with parenthood and its responsibilities, and an examination of what happens when love and its attendant obligations are absent, than it is with the dangers of the advancement of scientific knowledge. Victor is thus not so much at fault because he attempted to emulate God in the creation of life, but because he did not emulate Him in his care for his creation. (Though I think Shelley is herself ambiguous about whether God is any better…there seems to be an implicit judgement in some places that we in some sense share in the Creature’s abandonment.) Victor does not attempt to teach his creature or even do so much as stay in its vicinity after it has been awakened from death, instead abandoning it to the vicissitudes of the world merely because of its horrific appearance. Victor’s fault is compounded by the fact that his own family life was one of bliss with the full support and love of his parents, a fact that Shelley makes sure to underline as Victor tells the tale of his life. Even after his initial rejection by his creator and only link to humanity, the Creature attempts to live as best it can, looking for companionship and love until, driven by constant rejection due only to its frightful features, it chooses a path of vengeance and hate.

Which of the protagonists is the romantic hero of this tale? Is it Victor, who is certainly mad, bad and dangerous to know (though in a somewhat different vein from Byron)? Or is it the Creature who seems destined to most evoke the reader’s pity and displays all of the pathos of the unjustly suffering tragic figure, for all of Victor’s whining about his own predicament? Victor is indeed somewhat laughable in his sentiments (though I imagine this was not Shelley’s intent). There are only so many times that we can hear his inner monologues about how he is suffering more than any of those around him due to the inner torments of conscience, while at the same time he sits safely watching a figure like the poor servant girl Justine who stands alone in the dock awaiting death for a crime she did not commit, before we roll our eyes in frustration. Sure Victor, poor you. The torments of the soul are surely a fate worse than an ignominious death. Victor’s extreme passivity is also somewhat annoying. I’m still not sure why he prefers to sit and moan over the trials that assail him instead of taking matters into his own hands. If he truly believed the creature was such a blight on creation, and one whose soul was irredeemable, then why didn’t he just wait for one of the Creature’s inevitable visits with a gun instead of nothing more than impotent rage and mad ravings? The novel would have been over much sooner and in much less dramatic a fashion, but it strained my credulity a bit that such a ‘genius’ didn’t have this simple foresight. One other moment in the story that stetched my disbelief was the manner in which the Creature learned to read and speak. Let’s just say that it involved an incredibly convenient series of coincidence and leave it at that.

These issues aside, I did quite enjoy the novel. It was certainly chock full of ideas and had some luscious prose. Both were often in a somewhat overheated vein, but, given its place square in the midst of the Romantic genre I could expect no less of it. In addition to the critiques of parental abandonment Shelley also inserts several criticisms of the burden we carry as a result of our self-awareness. Tellingly, both Frankenstein and the Creature bemoan their sensibilities in an almost identical fashion and pine for the state of brute beasts, wishing that they had never “…known nor felt beyond the sensations of hunger, thirst and heat”. Intellect and feeling are an affliction that the happy beasts of the field need not suffer. Of course it is these very feelings that allow mankind to be both poet and scientist; to appreciate the beauty and wonder of Nature which the book so ardently admires; and to bring about the goodness of humanity as much as its evil, so these critiques are not, I think, without a rejoinder even in the novel itself.

All in all this was a great read; an exemplum of the horror genre still in its infancy…but I still like _Dracula_ better.
more
I loved this book and can't believe how differently this story has been portrayed by American culture. Aside from the sheer disbelief that everyone who has not read the book has gotten the story so WRONG, I often found myself getting wrapped up in the eloquence of Shelley's words. The way she described some of the most mundane things was simply beautiful.

I loved the story within a story within a story. I felt it allowed us to not only see the characters as they saw themselves, but also as the respective narrator saw them. Though there were portions that I felt weren't necessary (Chapter 19 read like the most boring travel brochure ever) I appreciated most of it. Frankenstein's overall struggle and loss as a result of his "playing god" was heartbreaking.more
Why do I do this to myself? This is part of my read-one-classic-novel-a-month challenge. 3 books in (I am already behind) and I have not enjoyed any of them.

As a narrator, Frankenstein waxes poetically about the scenery for pages, and pages, and pages. Then, when he has gotten his fill of that, he whines about how only he has suffered. He reminds me of a guy I knew once called Can't Beat Earl, no matter what the other characters go through - Victor has to point out how much WORSE he has had it.

I am willing to suspend belief on Frankie-Baby managing to re-animate a corpse (which he made GIANT for some reason) but there are a few instances of whatthefuckery

1) The monster manages to teach himself to speak, and not just to speak but to speak French, eloquently, by eavesdropping. DAAAAMMMNNN I actively participated in French class for years and I can't speak shit.
2) The monster manages to teach himself to read with 3 books and again, by eavesdropping
3) The monster manages to subsist for most of the novel on berries and roots (did we mention he is giant)
4) When he kills the younger brother there are marks on his throat and the townspeople convict a girl based on circumstantial evidence - um, how bout you check to see if her hands were big enough to make the marks, I'm willing to bet on NO.
5) After dumping body parts in the ocean Frank-the-Tank FALLS ASLEEP IN THE BOAT?! WTF?!
6) Frank-O-Man manages to escape a murder rap? Does no one notice that people keep dropping dead around him and he blames a monster that NO ONE ELSE CAN SEE?
7) Frank-tastic decides that even though the monster has threatened everyone he cares about, he won't bother to actually WARN any of them, in fact, on their wedding night - he sends Elizabeth off on her own while he ......... thinks? I don't recall him ever actually DOING anything to fight off the monster.

I could go on, and on, and on but then I would start to sound like FrankenWhine.

I am beginning to regret this challenge...
more
I'm glad I finally got around to reading it, but can't say that I found it a particularly enjoyable experience. The nesting of stories felt clumsy: Walthon's, Frankenstein's, the monster's, the De Lacey's - and the De Lacey's story seemed particularly irrelevant, given that they did not reappear in the narrative once the monster had scared them off. None of the monster's victims felt like real people whose fate I needed to care about, and Frankenstein's lack of responsibility for his own creation was unconvincing.The descriptions of places made it feel like a travelogue in parts (Visit the Rhine! Visit Oxford!) and I was bemused by the creature's intention to gather wood and build a funeral pyre for himself at the north pole. Um...more
Yes I did give it two stars. I really don't get what everyone sees in this and it reminds me once again that "classic" really just means old book. Also I remember just how much I dislike the writing style of that era. So much waffling. The book could easily do with a good trimming.

Frankenstein is one of those characters that really pisses me off. He is a whiny piece of shit and I could not find any redeeming qualities in him at all. He caused the whole issue through his own pride and arrogance and instead of dealing with it goes catatonic instead. He then proceeds to gambol around and inflict his invention on those he loves all the while crying "woe is me" like a pathetic teenager.

The only interesting part of the book for me was the monsters tale. The book really picked up at that point and I was hoping the rest of the book would be as intriguing. But no after that we're back to Frankenstein's moping.

I was glad to see the end of the book and it really proved the point that just because something is popular does not mean it is good.more
I feel silly "reviewing" Frankenstein, but I promised my self I would put out there what I thought about everything a read this year.I had read Frankenstein in high school for class, but the only parts I could remember well were when the creation (monster? daemon?) watched the family in the cottage and Frankenstein's life at the university. I reread the book for a local library book club, and rereading was a good experience, but it mostly served to make me dislike the character of Frankenstein a whole lot more than I had the first time. He's a perfectly good character in a literary sense, just a terrible human. It has nothing to do with the fact that he tries to "play God," he's just incredibly self-centered, self-pitying, sniveling prat. Other than that, I enjoyed the read. Even though this is not the kind of ending I usually particularly enjoy, it was the right one.more
I think I like the story of how this book came to be better than I liked the actual book. With that said, I'm glad that I read this classic novel.

Frankenstein must have been extremely chilling when it was first published. I can see why it was so popular. It's a creepy tale that brings up all types of moral questions. To my modern mind it wasn't terrifying. It was more of a "meh" type of scary.

All the monster really wanted was to love and be loved in return. He begged for friendship. He pleaded with Dr. Frankenstein to create a companion for him. When these things weren't forthcoming he turned to furious revenge.

“Satan has his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and detested.”

“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”

Frankenstein deserves the classic label for it's longevity and timelessness. While the tale isn't as scary as it once was, wonderful writing and fine craftsmanship never go out of style.more
In the last year I watched the two Bela Lugosi films of Frankenstein and was curious to read the book. They are remarkably different,yet complement each other. If you can cope with a lot of gothic gushing and emoting it's a worthy read.more
Quite possibly the greatest horror novel ever written. Shelley digs deep into man's ultimate question of good and evil. Who is the monster and who is the man? Perfectly composed for fans of all ages. This masterpiece will live forever...with or without Boris Karloff haha.more
Yeah I know, its dated, the language is excessive and sometimes so elevated as to be faintly absurd, the frame is probably not necessary, and the women are mostly useless. And yet, somehow it still captures my imagination.more
Reason for Reading: I intend to read the upcoming non-fiction title "The Lady and Her Monsters" which is about the writing and background of the creation of the novel "Frankenstein" so I thought it would be best if I re-read the book to better appreciate the former.I am a huge Frankenstein fan! I first watched the Boris Karloff movie as a young child and have since seen it dozens of times. I've seen all the MGM sequels and have a deluxe DVD edition with commentaries, etc. I've also seen many, many different remakes, pastiches and parodies of the movie as well as reading Frankenstein themed retellings, comics and pastiches. I have read this, the original book, once before when I was quite young. It was one of the first books I took out of the library when I obtained an adult library card with special permission of my father at 12 or 13. (You had to be 14, or in highschool, to get one at the time). Needless to say at this point in time 30 years later, the movie version, specifically the James Whale (Boris Karloff) version is the one that I think of when I think of the Frankenstein story.When I went into reading this book I knew that it was a totally different story than what my mind recalls from the movies but I also remembered that it started in the Arctic with the monster relating his story to Frankenstein. So from this I was totally blown away with how incredibly different the actual story is to the conceived modern notion of the tale. The book is told in narrative form from three different points of view and is a story within a story within a story. Starting off with a mariner writing home letters to his sister as he starts an Arctic expedition and then becomes stuck in ice he recounts his tale and his meeting of Victor Frankenstein who stumbles upon them near death in his mad chase of his creature. Then Walton, the mariner, recounts the tale that Frankenstein relates to him of his life. The awful, hideous story of his wretched life. Halfway through this recounting Frankenstein stops to relate the story the creature pauses to tell him of his life story since he woke from the "spark of life" and wandered into the world on his own. Then it goes back to Frankenstein's narrative and finally ends again with Walton's letters. This way we get both Frankenstein and the creature's tales from their own mouths, in their own words as they were related to the person they spoke to. Neither Frankenstein or the creature are sympathetic which I found surprising, as in the movie I am deeply sympathetic to Karloff's monster. But in the novel, he is a vile, wicked, murdering beast who at first thinks he has human compassion but quickly is turned from having any and easily finds violence and revenge better to his suiting when he is not treated fairly by others. Frankenstein himself is simply mad, the quintessential mad scientist. Obsessed with his creation he thinks of nothing else, working in solitude day and night until he completes his reanimation of life. Upon first glimpse of this "life" he is so horrified that he runs from it and from this point on he becomes obsessed with finding it and destroying it, however the monster has developed his own lust for destroying Frankenstein and sets out to destroy him also, not bodily but in mind and soul by killing all who mean anything to him.A frightening tale that shows the futility and madness at playing God with science, even though the book mentions very little about religion. This edition I read from "The Whole Story" edition is a wonderful annotated edition which really brings the classics to life. The annotations don't particularly help explain the story any better, though there are some pictures and definitions of some items and devices one may not be familiar with. The main purpose of these annotations is to set one geographically and historically within the place and era that the book was written. Profusely illustrated with etchings and paintings of place names mentioned in the story one becomes immersed in the scenery and in this book particularly the Gothic feel comes to life. Historically we see the prisons of the time period, meet the Romantic poets and artists who shaped the life of the author and the mood which carried over into this novel. I really enjoy and recommend this edition, have several others in the series and would pick up any others I found, but unfortunately they are out of print at this time.more
A true classic that can be read over and over and never gets boring.I really love Shelley's descriptive style and her philosophical approach to the topic. Instead of just writing a simple horror story, the story goes much deeper than that and shows a sensitivity that is usually lacking in stories about monsters. We get to know the 'monster' as a sensitive being that feels mistreated by the world and abandoned by his creator, and feels forced into gruesome deeds. Frankenstein is a selfish person that is unwilling to bear the consequences of his actions, until these consequences - literally - hunt him down.A novel that teaches us to have sympathy with the monsters and be accepting of creatures that are different from ourselves. At the same time, a commentary on the progress of science, and the selfishness of the masters in our society. Truly a novel that can be read in many different ways and is able to give you something to think about.more
This book draws you in from the very beginning. It was the perfect Halloween read. I can see why it's one of the greats!more
I am glad I had a chance to reread Frankenstein. Such a great book! Victor Frankenstein is a student impatient with a classical education. He becomes fascinated with science and the engineering of humans. Left alone with his "research" Frankenstein creates a man more powerful in strength and size than average, and because his methods are crude, so ugly it is deemed a "monster." Upon creation Frankenstein immediately regrets his man-made monster and is relieved when it runs away. Frankenstein is a cautionary lesson in the dangers of messing with science. It is also a commentary on assumptions and misunderstandings. When Frankenstein's monster starts killing Victor's loved ones Frankenstein misunderstands the message and makes assumptions about the violence. It is a tragedy that doesn't end well for anyone.more
While the story was great, I don't think the epistolary format did it any favors.more
First line:~ I am by birth a Genevese; and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic. ~Once again, she asks, why have I not read this book before? I loved Mary Shelley’s writing style. Not too much detail and she builds the characters and the story skilfully. No one comes out of this story unscathed. Dr. Frankenstein attempts to create ‘life’ and creates something he cannot accept. The creature abandoned by his ‘creator’, his ‘father’, is also rejected by everyone he comes in contact with. He lives his life alone, abandoned by society. Every effort he makes to approach humans with kindness and compassion is met with rebuke. In the pain and agony of his frustration he gives vent to his anger, this being the only thing he really knows. Dr. Frankenstein is equally abandoned by and abandons society. It is a tragic tale of fathers and sons, of prejudice and anger. Very sad. No one ever gives him a chance.more
Read all 205 reviews

Reviews

Written with just as much melodrama as you'll see in every film adaptation, Shelly's novel is nonetheless still quite powerful. Frankenstein still allows parallels to be drawn with our times despite being originally published nearly 200 years ago. For all its symbolism it remains a very human story.more
A great read. Spectacular language. Brilliant display of imagination, the book is the real genial to the modern science fiction.more
I read through this in one sitting. Chilling in places, but full of humanity. Rich and colorful language that resonates long after it's over. I laughed the first time I realized that this covers both the Frankenstein and the Bride of Frnakenstein movies!more
If you haven't read this book, you should! Movies about the Frankenstein monster don't do him justice. When you read this book you will definitely understand a lot of the monster's actions and sympathize with him.more
The original novel by Mary Shelley is a very different beast than most of those that have made it to film or TV. There is, for example, no digging up of dead bodies, no talk of reanimation. Rather it would appear that the zealous young scientist has figured out how to animate a constructed being. The monster, or "demon" as he is often called in the book, was made bigger than a man to facilitate the finer aspects of his construction, but he is also represented as being faster, stronger, tougher, and perhaps smarter than most men. While he espouses high ideals, he sees no conflict between those high ideals and murdering of a human being.

In religious terms, the demon is soulless. In psychological terms, he is a sociopath -- although one could argue that his creator did absolutely nothing to nurture him, love him, or inculcate social mores into him. In philosophical terms, he is a terrifying example of man's arrogance and his abrogation of natural law.

This is a remarkable novel for a 19- to 21-year-old woman to have penned. Some argue that, relying on the idea of scientific experimentation, it is the first science fiction novel. If it is a horror story, it is horror in the old-fashioned sense of someone defying moral laws or decency and being repaid with an appropriate (and ghastly) comeuppance.

The writing doesn't include the kind of whiz-bang pseudo-scientific detail that informs so much of modern science fiction, and at times the writing falls prey to that 19th-century tendency toward purple prose. For some readers, however, that may be a plus.

It's also important as a major contribution to Western literature from a woman's pen. The first edition of the book, I have read, was published anonymously (another example of that saying that "Anonymous was a woman"), but in later editions, Shelley listed herself as its author.more
Easy and quick enough to read, a bit wordy. Interesting concept.more
For those who have not read the novel and only been subjected to film versions, it's "nothing" like the movies. The doctor, not the monster, is named Frankenstein and, the monster fully develops as a sentient being, not as a green, square-headed zombie with bolts stuck in the side of his head! The story is heavily influenced by Milton's Paradise Lost and some radical social theory at the time, something along the lines that a man's nature is most profoundly influenced in reaction to his societal upbringing, an earlier version of "it takes a village."

Frankenstein is a book that definitely bears rereading. There are multiple layers and approaches to take to the story: literally, emotionally, philosophically and metaphorically. On the basic linear narrative level, it is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young ambitious man who leaves home and pursues his studies in Ingolstadt, Germany. His interests lie in the life sciences and his passion leads him to the secret of reanimating dead flesh into a living, sentient being. Mary Shelley, pulls the reader into the pathos and angst of both Frankenstein and his unnamed creature by creating pathos- and angst-ridden first person narratives into the story for both characters. Philosophically, there's plenty of material to vet: theism, existentialism, free will, fate vs destiny, Nature vs Nurture... The author makes several allusions to Milton's Paradise Lost; but comparisons to Dante's Inferno from The Divine Comedy are equally obvious and relevant. Milton's and Dante's works deal with the fall from divine grace and the soul's state of disgrace and, like Milton's and Dante's works, the listener cannot help but wonder if the story of Frankenstein is also a reflection of an interior journey.

Simon Vance narrates the Tantor edition of Frankenstein. HIs consummate skill with character-work comes to the fore and, bears an uncanny resemblance to his voices for The Millennuim Trilogy :-)

Redacted from the original blog review at dog eared copy, Frankenstein; 11/04/2011more
SPOILER ALERT:


Did anyone else find Dr. Frankenstein a hand-wringing, whiney annoying little baby?
more
I want very much to like this book. I've had to read it several times for various classes but I've never actually made it through the whole thing. It puts me to sleep. I found all the discussions about it interesting, and I very much appreciate the importance of the tomb. I just can't seem to read it all the way through.more
This and Anna Karenina are as close as I know to perfect. The only thing that holds Frankenstein back is the writing style; at times you're reminded that Shelley was only 18 when she wrote it. The plot and pacing are perfect, and the scenes are terrific - particularly the exquisite first bit of the monster's story - but there are sometimes some minor rough patches in the sentences.

It's a warning, of course, about creating things we don't understand. Everyone knows that. What I'm interested by, though, and where I think some people misinterpret Frankenstein, is that Frankenstein's monster isn't a flawed creation. Some people think the warning is that we overreach and create...well, monsters, right? But Frankenstein's creation is instinctively good. He's smart, rational and kind, until he's irrevocably alienated. It's not in the creation that Frankenstein fails; it's in the raising of it.

So if Shelley is warning us against playing God, it's not because she thinks we can't create something wonderful. It's that she doesn't trust us to know what to do with it.more
3.5 stars

Ok, so it’s one of the big two of the great classic monster stories: Dracula and Frankenstein…sort of a literary Beatles and the Rolling Stones scenario. Which do you think is better? Your choice may say a lot about you. Considered a classic both in the realms of science fiction and horror and even granted the distinction to be part of the literary cannon, the pedigree of Mary Shelley’s _Frankenstein_ is pretty much impeccable. This was actually my second attempt at reading the book, however, the first being stymied some years ago by the morose, and seemingly endless, philosophizing of the monster. Somehow this didn’t bother me this time around, and I was able to enjoy Shelley’s nightmare tale and appreciate its classic status. To me the book reads almost like a primer in the Romantic ethos, not surprising considering its author who was a member of one of the greatest literary circles of the Romantic movement. From the emblematic poetry quoted throughout and the many, many (many) paens to the revelatory aspects of wild and majestic Nature to the existential philosophizing central to all of the characters and the combination of hopefulness with despair, this book has the Romantic movement tattooed on its soul.

Regardless of the fact that many see this as the birthing point of science fiction due to young Frankenstein’s pseudo-scientific attempts to create life, I think that these sfnal elements hold a distant second place to the more poetic and philosophical ones in the story. To me it isn’t the cautionary tale of the dangers of scientific progress that is paramount, but rather that of the family. I think _Frankenstein_ is ultimately more concerned with parenthood and its responsibilities, and an examination of what happens when love and its attendant obligations are absent, than it is with the dangers of the advancement of scientific knowledge. Victor is thus not so much at fault because he attempted to emulate God in the creation of life, but because he did not emulate Him in his care for his creation. (Though I think Shelley is herself ambiguous about whether God is any better…there seems to be an implicit judgement in some places that we in some sense share in the Creature’s abandonment.) Victor does not attempt to teach his creature or even do so much as stay in its vicinity after it has been awakened from death, instead abandoning it to the vicissitudes of the world merely because of its horrific appearance. Victor’s fault is compounded by the fact that his own family life was one of bliss with the full support and love of his parents, a fact that Shelley makes sure to underline as Victor tells the tale of his life. Even after his initial rejection by his creator and only link to humanity, the Creature attempts to live as best it can, looking for companionship and love until, driven by constant rejection due only to its frightful features, it chooses a path of vengeance and hate.

Which of the protagonists is the romantic hero of this tale? Is it Victor, who is certainly mad, bad and dangerous to know (though in a somewhat different vein from Byron)? Or is it the Creature who seems destined to most evoke the reader’s pity and displays all of the pathos of the unjustly suffering tragic figure, for all of Victor’s whining about his own predicament? Victor is indeed somewhat laughable in his sentiments (though I imagine this was not Shelley’s intent). There are only so many times that we can hear his inner monologues about how he is suffering more than any of those around him due to the inner torments of conscience, while at the same time he sits safely watching a figure like the poor servant girl Justine who stands alone in the dock awaiting death for a crime she did not commit, before we roll our eyes in frustration. Sure Victor, poor you. The torments of the soul are surely a fate worse than an ignominious death. Victor’s extreme passivity is also somewhat annoying. I’m still not sure why he prefers to sit and moan over the trials that assail him instead of taking matters into his own hands. If he truly believed the creature was such a blight on creation, and one whose soul was irredeemable, then why didn’t he just wait for one of the Creature’s inevitable visits with a gun instead of nothing more than impotent rage and mad ravings? The novel would have been over much sooner and in much less dramatic a fashion, but it strained my credulity a bit that such a ‘genius’ didn’t have this simple foresight. One other moment in the story that stetched my disbelief was the manner in which the Creature learned to read and speak. Let’s just say that it involved an incredibly convenient series of coincidence and leave it at that.

These issues aside, I did quite enjoy the novel. It was certainly chock full of ideas and had some luscious prose. Both were often in a somewhat overheated vein, but, given its place square in the midst of the Romantic genre I could expect no less of it. In addition to the critiques of parental abandonment Shelley also inserts several criticisms of the burden we carry as a result of our self-awareness. Tellingly, both Frankenstein and the Creature bemoan their sensibilities in an almost identical fashion and pine for the state of brute beasts, wishing that they had never “…known nor felt beyond the sensations of hunger, thirst and heat”. Intellect and feeling are an affliction that the happy beasts of the field need not suffer. Of course it is these very feelings that allow mankind to be both poet and scientist; to appreciate the beauty and wonder of Nature which the book so ardently admires; and to bring about the goodness of humanity as much as its evil, so these critiques are not, I think, without a rejoinder even in the novel itself.

All in all this was a great read; an exemplum of the horror genre still in its infancy…but I still like _Dracula_ better.
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I loved this book and can't believe how differently this story has been portrayed by American culture. Aside from the sheer disbelief that everyone who has not read the book has gotten the story so WRONG, I often found myself getting wrapped up in the eloquence of Shelley's words. The way she described some of the most mundane things was simply beautiful.

I loved the story within a story within a story. I felt it allowed us to not only see the characters as they saw themselves, but also as the respective narrator saw them. Though there were portions that I felt weren't necessary (Chapter 19 read like the most boring travel brochure ever) I appreciated most of it. Frankenstein's overall struggle and loss as a result of his "playing god" was heartbreaking.more
Why do I do this to myself? This is part of my read-one-classic-novel-a-month challenge. 3 books in (I am already behind) and I have not enjoyed any of them.

As a narrator, Frankenstein waxes poetically about the scenery for pages, and pages, and pages. Then, when he has gotten his fill of that, he whines about how only he has suffered. He reminds me of a guy I knew once called Can't Beat Earl, no matter what the other characters go through - Victor has to point out how much WORSE he has had it.

I am willing to suspend belief on Frankie-Baby managing to re-animate a corpse (which he made GIANT for some reason) but there are a few instances of whatthefuckery

1) The monster manages to teach himself to speak, and not just to speak but to speak French, eloquently, by eavesdropping. DAAAAMMMNNN I actively participated in French class for years and I can't speak shit.
2) The monster manages to teach himself to read with 3 books and again, by eavesdropping
3) The monster manages to subsist for most of the novel on berries and roots (did we mention he is giant)
4) When he kills the younger brother there are marks on his throat and the townspeople convict a girl based on circumstantial evidence - um, how bout you check to see if her hands were big enough to make the marks, I'm willing to bet on NO.
5) After dumping body parts in the ocean Frank-the-Tank FALLS ASLEEP IN THE BOAT?! WTF?!
6) Frank-O-Man manages to escape a murder rap? Does no one notice that people keep dropping dead around him and he blames a monster that NO ONE ELSE CAN SEE?
7) Frank-tastic decides that even though the monster has threatened everyone he cares about, he won't bother to actually WARN any of them, in fact, on their wedding night - he sends Elizabeth off on her own while he ......... thinks? I don't recall him ever actually DOING anything to fight off the monster.

I could go on, and on, and on but then I would start to sound like FrankenWhine.

I am beginning to regret this challenge...
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I'm glad I finally got around to reading it, but can't say that I found it a particularly enjoyable experience. The nesting of stories felt clumsy: Walthon's, Frankenstein's, the monster's, the De Lacey's - and the De Lacey's story seemed particularly irrelevant, given that they did not reappear in the narrative once the monster had scared them off. None of the monster's victims felt like real people whose fate I needed to care about, and Frankenstein's lack of responsibility for his own creation was unconvincing.The descriptions of places made it feel like a travelogue in parts (Visit the Rhine! Visit Oxford!) and I was bemused by the creature's intention to gather wood and build a funeral pyre for himself at the north pole. Um...more
Yes I did give it two stars. I really don't get what everyone sees in this and it reminds me once again that "classic" really just means old book. Also I remember just how much I dislike the writing style of that era. So much waffling. The book could easily do with a good trimming.

Frankenstein is one of those characters that really pisses me off. He is a whiny piece of shit and I could not find any redeeming qualities in him at all. He caused the whole issue through his own pride and arrogance and instead of dealing with it goes catatonic instead. He then proceeds to gambol around and inflict his invention on those he loves all the while crying "woe is me" like a pathetic teenager.

The only interesting part of the book for me was the monsters tale. The book really picked up at that point and I was hoping the rest of the book would be as intriguing. But no after that we're back to Frankenstein's moping.

I was glad to see the end of the book and it really proved the point that just because something is popular does not mean it is good.more
I feel silly "reviewing" Frankenstein, but I promised my self I would put out there what I thought about everything a read this year.I had read Frankenstein in high school for class, but the only parts I could remember well were when the creation (monster? daemon?) watched the family in the cottage and Frankenstein's life at the university. I reread the book for a local library book club, and rereading was a good experience, but it mostly served to make me dislike the character of Frankenstein a whole lot more than I had the first time. He's a perfectly good character in a literary sense, just a terrible human. It has nothing to do with the fact that he tries to "play God," he's just incredibly self-centered, self-pitying, sniveling prat. Other than that, I enjoyed the read. Even though this is not the kind of ending I usually particularly enjoy, it was the right one.more
I think I like the story of how this book came to be better than I liked the actual book. With that said, I'm glad that I read this classic novel.

Frankenstein must have been extremely chilling when it was first published. I can see why it was so popular. It's a creepy tale that brings up all types of moral questions. To my modern mind it wasn't terrifying. It was more of a "meh" type of scary.

All the monster really wanted was to love and be loved in return. He begged for friendship. He pleaded with Dr. Frankenstein to create a companion for him. When these things weren't forthcoming he turned to furious revenge.

“Satan has his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and detested.”

“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”

Frankenstein deserves the classic label for it's longevity and timelessness. While the tale isn't as scary as it once was, wonderful writing and fine craftsmanship never go out of style.more
In the last year I watched the two Bela Lugosi films of Frankenstein and was curious to read the book. They are remarkably different,yet complement each other. If you can cope with a lot of gothic gushing and emoting it's a worthy read.more
Quite possibly the greatest horror novel ever written. Shelley digs deep into man's ultimate question of good and evil. Who is the monster and who is the man? Perfectly composed for fans of all ages. This masterpiece will live forever...with or without Boris Karloff haha.more
Yeah I know, its dated, the language is excessive and sometimes so elevated as to be faintly absurd, the frame is probably not necessary, and the women are mostly useless. And yet, somehow it still captures my imagination.more
Reason for Reading: I intend to read the upcoming non-fiction title "The Lady and Her Monsters" which is about the writing and background of the creation of the novel "Frankenstein" so I thought it would be best if I re-read the book to better appreciate the former.I am a huge Frankenstein fan! I first watched the Boris Karloff movie as a young child and have since seen it dozens of times. I've seen all the MGM sequels and have a deluxe DVD edition with commentaries, etc. I've also seen many, many different remakes, pastiches and parodies of the movie as well as reading Frankenstein themed retellings, comics and pastiches. I have read this, the original book, once before when I was quite young. It was one of the first books I took out of the library when I obtained an adult library card with special permission of my father at 12 or 13. (You had to be 14, or in highschool, to get one at the time). Needless to say at this point in time 30 years later, the movie version, specifically the James Whale (Boris Karloff) version is the one that I think of when I think of the Frankenstein story.When I went into reading this book I knew that it was a totally different story than what my mind recalls from the movies but I also remembered that it started in the Arctic with the monster relating his story to Frankenstein. So from this I was totally blown away with how incredibly different the actual story is to the conceived modern notion of the tale. The book is told in narrative form from three different points of view and is a story within a story within a story. Starting off with a mariner writing home letters to his sister as he starts an Arctic expedition and then becomes stuck in ice he recounts his tale and his meeting of Victor Frankenstein who stumbles upon them near death in his mad chase of his creature. Then Walton, the mariner, recounts the tale that Frankenstein relates to him of his life. The awful, hideous story of his wretched life. Halfway through this recounting Frankenstein stops to relate the story the creature pauses to tell him of his life story since he woke from the "spark of life" and wandered into the world on his own. Then it goes back to Frankenstein's narrative and finally ends again with Walton's letters. This way we get both Frankenstein and the creature's tales from their own mouths, in their own words as they were related to the person they spoke to. Neither Frankenstein or the creature are sympathetic which I found surprising, as in the movie I am deeply sympathetic to Karloff's monster. But in the novel, he is a vile, wicked, murdering beast who at first thinks he has human compassion but quickly is turned from having any and easily finds violence and revenge better to his suiting when he is not treated fairly by others. Frankenstein himself is simply mad, the quintessential mad scientist. Obsessed with his creation he thinks of nothing else, working in solitude day and night until he completes his reanimation of life. Upon first glimpse of this "life" he is so horrified that he runs from it and from this point on he becomes obsessed with finding it and destroying it, however the monster has developed his own lust for destroying Frankenstein and sets out to destroy him also, not bodily but in mind and soul by killing all who mean anything to him.A frightening tale that shows the futility and madness at playing God with science, even though the book mentions very little about religion. This edition I read from "The Whole Story" edition is a wonderful annotated edition which really brings the classics to life. The annotations don't particularly help explain the story any better, though there are some pictures and definitions of some items and devices one may not be familiar with. The main purpose of these annotations is to set one geographically and historically within the place and era that the book was written. Profusely illustrated with etchings and paintings of place names mentioned in the story one becomes immersed in the scenery and in this book particularly the Gothic feel comes to life. Historically we see the prisons of the time period, meet the Romantic poets and artists who shaped the life of the author and the mood which carried over into this novel. I really enjoy and recommend this edition, have several others in the series and would pick up any others I found, but unfortunately they are out of print at this time.more
A true classic that can be read over and over and never gets boring.I really love Shelley's descriptive style and her philosophical approach to the topic. Instead of just writing a simple horror story, the story goes much deeper than that and shows a sensitivity that is usually lacking in stories about monsters. We get to know the 'monster' as a sensitive being that feels mistreated by the world and abandoned by his creator, and feels forced into gruesome deeds. Frankenstein is a selfish person that is unwilling to bear the consequences of his actions, until these consequences - literally - hunt him down.A novel that teaches us to have sympathy with the monsters and be accepting of creatures that are different from ourselves. At the same time, a commentary on the progress of science, and the selfishness of the masters in our society. Truly a novel that can be read in many different ways and is able to give you something to think about.more
This book draws you in from the very beginning. It was the perfect Halloween read. I can see why it's one of the greats!more
I am glad I had a chance to reread Frankenstein. Such a great book! Victor Frankenstein is a student impatient with a classical education. He becomes fascinated with science and the engineering of humans. Left alone with his "research" Frankenstein creates a man more powerful in strength and size than average, and because his methods are crude, so ugly it is deemed a "monster." Upon creation Frankenstein immediately regrets his man-made monster and is relieved when it runs away. Frankenstein is a cautionary lesson in the dangers of messing with science. It is also a commentary on assumptions and misunderstandings. When Frankenstein's monster starts killing Victor's loved ones Frankenstein misunderstands the message and makes assumptions about the violence. It is a tragedy that doesn't end well for anyone.more
While the story was great, I don't think the epistolary format did it any favors.more
First line:~ I am by birth a Genevese; and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic. ~Once again, she asks, why have I not read this book before? I loved Mary Shelley’s writing style. Not too much detail and she builds the characters and the story skilfully. No one comes out of this story unscathed. Dr. Frankenstein attempts to create ‘life’ and creates something he cannot accept. The creature abandoned by his ‘creator’, his ‘father’, is also rejected by everyone he comes in contact with. He lives his life alone, abandoned by society. Every effort he makes to approach humans with kindness and compassion is met with rebuke. In the pain and agony of his frustration he gives vent to his anger, this being the only thing he really knows. Dr. Frankenstein is equally abandoned by and abandons society. It is a tragic tale of fathers and sons, of prejudice and anger. Very sad. No one ever gives him a chance.more
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