'I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion.' A summer evening's ghost stories, lonely insomnia in a moonlit Alpine's room, and a runaway imagination -- fired by philosophical discussions with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley about science, galvanism, and the origins of life -- conspired to produce for Mary Shelley ...
'I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion.' A summer evening's ghost stories, lonely insomnia in a moonlit Alpine's room, and a runaway imagination -- fired by philosophical discussions with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley about science, galvanism, and the origins of life -- conspired to produce for Mary Shelley this haunting night specter. By morning, it had become the germ of her Romantic masterpiece, "Frankenstein." Written in 1816 when she was only 19, Mary Shelley's novel of 'The Modern Prometheus' chillingly dramatized the dangerous potential of life begotten upon a laboratory table. A frightening creation myth for our own time, "Frankenstein" remains one of the greatest horror stories ever written and is an undisputed classic of its kind.
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The funny thing about Victor Frankenstein and his monster is that while the monster lives, Victor does not. He resides so deeply within his own obsessive, guilt-plaugued mind that he forgets to live his life. Neglecting his loved ones, neglecting his creation, he rides a spiral ever downward. Had I been standing in the same room with him, I would have slapped him.
This is the first time I've read Frankenstein although I've seen the movies. The book is much different and you owe it to yourself to read it. At a couple hundred pages, it goes quickly. Shelley alludes to many themes throughout her work; the idea that one shouldn't aspire to be greater than one's own nature; the idea that we have a responsibility to the life we bring into the world; the idea that science for its own sake is wrong.
This story really reminds me of Genesis - the characters living the 'bliss' of their wealthly lives, enjoying all goodness and grace that has been provided until naughty Victor eats from the Tree of Knowledge. Suddenly he knows how truly wretched he is, and he takes everyone else with him as he is evicted from the Garden.
Meanwhile, what about the monster? The monster is more a child than anything else, ruled by passion and ultimately rage. At times I couldn't decide whether I found Victor or his creation more the monster. I certainly liked Victor less, and at least the monster could be decisive. But in the end, the child without guidance becomes a homicidal fiend. I wondered why Frankenstein couldn't have started with a cow instead of a man.
My takeaway: forget life after death. I think this book reminds us that there should life during life. If you are alive, be at peace and enjoy it. And if you enjoy horror, read Frankenstein.
Nov 26, 2011
An Obsession Gone Awry
Frankenstein is one of the great classics of horror literature. Wanting to overcome death and disease, Victor Frankenstein seeks to create life. In the process he builds a monster from graveyards and slaughter houses. The monster comes to life and wants to be loved. However, the monster's unpleasant appearance makes it difficult for others to show compassion. The only person who offers any sort of kindness is blind. The monster eventually stalks and torments its creator. Ironically, Frankenstein loses some of his loved ones at the hands of the powerful monster he created. Though this version from the Treasury of Illustrated Classics is an adaptation designed for younger readers, it is still a powerful and compelling story. The book concludes with a short biographical profile of Mary Shelley. Highly recommended.
Jun 30, 2011
Never read Frankenstein before only saw the various movies that were produced. I found the book more insightful and the story better told.
Apr 17, 2011
The Modern Prometheus
Once this story starts rolling, it is very difficult to put down. The story is woven in such a way that you become absorbed in the narrative. I had seen the movies but the only one that comes close is the Kenneth Branaugh Version with Robert deNiro playing the Monster. But the book is definately better than any movie version. The descriptions are wonderful. The handling of a subject matter that would have been way beyond the authors knowledge of the time is bluffed very well. The ending is ambiguous and may be the least satisfying if you are into Good vs. Evil and Good wins stereotype endings. Nonetheless, this is a timeless classic, which covers topics highly discussed and written about in the 21st century.
Feb 15, 2010
This novel, supposedly written during a drug party with the poets Byron and Shelley, after Mary Shelley suffered a miscarriage, is a narrative. There is something inherently terrifying about hearing the stories of Frankenstein and his monster, passionately written as a journal found by a sailor. And, unlike Stephen King, both the story and the writing are flawless.
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