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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein (1818)

by Mary Shelley (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
21,57838061 (3.8)992
  1. 283
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (SanctiSpiritus)
  2. 171
    Dracula by Bram Stoker (MarcusBrutus, Cecilturtle, LitPeejster)
  3. 172
    The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells (Liondancer, artturnerjr)
    Liondancer: another scientist whose creatures get out of control
    artturnerjr: Both books share a similar blend of science fiction and horror.
  4. 71
    The Journals of Mary Shelley, 1814-1844: 1814-1822 (Journals of Mary Shelley, July, 1814-1822) by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (JessamyJane)
  5. 72
    The Golem by Gustav Meyrink (Kolbkarlsson)
  6. 41
    The Sand Man / The Deserted House by E. T. A. Hoffmann (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Written within a year of each other, Hoffmann's The Sandman and Shelley's Frankenstein both feature man-made beings. And both have been adapted beyond recognition.
  7. 63
    Dracula (Norton Critical Edition) by Bram Stoker (Nubiannut)
  8. 31
    Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock (FFortuna)
  9. 32
    The Diamond Lens by Fitz-James O'Brien (Anonymous user)
  10. 21
    Prometheus Bound by Aischylos (thecoroner)
  11. 10
    The Hidden by Richard Sala (Michael.Rimmer)
  12. 54
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Both are novels about the horrendous consequences that arise from excessive human meddling with nature, i.e. "playing God."
  13. 11
    Poor Things by Alasdair Gray (bertilak)
  14. 23
    The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: A modern sequel
  15. 46
    Pride And Prometheus by John Kessel (aethercowboy)
    aethercowboy: Pride and Prometheus is a clever and award-winning melding of Pride and Prejudice and Frankenstein. Worth reading alongside the original. It won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Award, and was nominated for a Hugo and World Fantasy Award.
  16. 14
    The Merciful Women by Federico Andahazi (Mahlatikka)
  17. 16
    The Bride of Frankenstein by Carl Dreadstone (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: After you finish the Gothic original, have some fun with this film novelization.

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» See also 992 mentions

English (368)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (2)  German (2)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (379)
Showing 1-5 of 368 (next | show all)
The story is excellent, a real must-read, & entirely different than most of the movies, but the writing bores me to tears. Nothing is ever said with one word when a paragraph will do. I liked an edited for kids copy that I read with mine much better, although that changed a lot of the story as well. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
Unlike its many film adaptations, the novel Frankenstein is not a simple horror story about a mad scientist and his monster. The book has a scientist, it has horrible moments, and it has a monster at its heart; but it is much more complicated and layered than those foundational elements. The book poses philosophical and spiritual questions in its portrayal of a man creating life and abandoning it, and both Frankenstein and his Creature are conflicted and intriguing characters, far removed from their Hollywood depictions.

The story follows Frankenstein, and is framed by the letters of Walton, a British man attempting to explore the polar regions in the the north. In his epistles back to his sister, he reveals that his crew retrieved a man from the sea, intelligent and good but afflicted with morose depression. Eventually, the rescued man (revealed to be Victor Frankenstein) tells Walton his tragic story. He begins with his idyllic youth, traces his education and the beginning of his occult desires, and vaguely explains his experiments to assemble a man from spare parts. He never describes the actual spark he uses to animate his creature, but the novel cleverly accounts for this by Frankenstein's admonition that no other man should be allowed to repeat his mistakes. These reminiscences occupy the first few chapters of the book. The rest of it details the result of Frankenstein abandoning his creature in a mad rush as soon as the man opens his eyes, his feelings instantly changing from triumph to disgust on the completion of his pursuit. As many critics note, Frankenstein basically abandons his unnatural child, and the destruction that follows is a result of both his experiment and his decision to ignore it.

Frankenstein's creature certainly wreaks havoc on Frankenstein's life, but his awful acts of vengeance are but a small part of the narrative. The central portion of the novel is the Creature's own account of his life after Frankenstein left him to stumble into a new existence. He forces Frankenstein to listen to his perspective, and his history spans almost a third of the book, creating a story within a story within a story. By the time he and Frankenstein speak, the Creature is eloquent and intelligent; nothing like the lovable but half-witted versions presented in the movies and television. His personal narrative reveals that he spent much time on self-education. He admits to killing Frankenstein's younger brother and pinning the blame on the innocent housemaid, but protests that he did it out of a justified rage against society and Frankenstein, and then begs Frankenstein to make him a mate. With a companion, he swears he will never hurt a living soul again. Yes, the Creature commits several atrocities - he kills more of Frankenstein's friends after the scientist breaks his promise to create a female version of himself - and these are truly awful, but they are spread throughout the novel. Also, no villagers with pitchforks in the book. Instead, the story ends with Frankenstein himself pursuing the Creature into the northern wilds, lured on and even assisted at times by his creation, and the tragic end of both creator and created.

I knew before reading that the novel bore little resemblance to the popular perception of Frankenstein. In fact, that was one of the draws for me to read the book. Being an English Lit major in college, you learn tidbits about a lot of books, even ones you don't read. For example, I knew Frankenstein was the name of the scientist, not the monster. I knew there was a chase scene at the end, but that the book was less action packed than a monster flick, and had a philosophical core. Frankenstein is more of an literary fiction novel with horror overtones. This information helped to approach the book with different expectations from my husband, who found the read boring and not scary enough. For my part, I found the story to be engaging and highly readable, was pleasantly surprised with the scary bits, and thought it ended well.

What surprised me was how unlikable I found Frankenstein. I ended up naming him the whining cry baby, due to his incessant moping and depression over the creation he had made. He took no action whatsoever to stop the bad fall-out of his own experiments, until the very end when most of his family and friends had already been murdered. Then he finally did something, he finally chased the Creature, but was ineffective once again: despite the grim oaths he swore to never rest until he destroyed the monster, he dies from exhaustion and cold on Walton's ship, the Creature still roaming free and untouched by him. I had heard that the Creature was a sympathetic character, but I never expected to dislike Frankenstein so much. As for the Creature, he did raise more feelings of pity and understanding than his maker. However, he killed innocent people to satisfy his thirst for revenge, and his actions are not excusable by his loneliness. I did indeed feel sorry for him, but I blamed him for his choices, and thought it fitting that he planned to destroy himself in the frozen wasteland after his author was dead.

Clearly a book such as this will deal with themes of natural versus man-made, and what happens when man oversteps his place and tries to usurp God's power. The story also delves into the idea of inherent goodness or badness. The Creature, according to his own account, is inherently good, and it is society's cruel treatment of him that drives him to murderous rage. This same idea connects to issues of parenting, such as the effects of parents neglecting their duties. Also, the novel is highly interesting in that we have three unreliable narrators - Walton, Frankenstein, and the Creature. How much can we credit anything we read coming from these men? Thanks to the critical essays in the second half of this edition of the book, I was able to ponder other interpretations I would never have considered on my own. Many feminist scholars have examined the tale: comparing the creation of the Creature to a birth, examining how Frankenstein differs so much from a mother in his efforts to arrive at the birth but dismissing any work that should come after, arguing that Frankenstein actually is a female figure, and so on. Other essays present the influence of certain scientists and authors on Mary Shelley's work, compare the various editions of the novel and judge the one that best presents Shelley's vision, and show her novel as a part of the cultural and educational stream of her time. I love Norton Critical Editions for the supplementary work they contain; it's as close to being in a college classroom discussing literature as you can get, while still reading on your own at home. Frankenstein's essays reveal the depth this book has to offer, and made me appreciate the novel far more than I would have with my single reading. I certainly would recommend this book to others, and I advise the Norton version for readers interested in discovering its true worth. ( )
  nmhale | Aug 18, 2014 |
My first thought is that this book, with such flagrant imagery to the surrounding world, houses no evil in the first letters preceding the story. I would of never have guessed the ending and I felt much more empathetic to the monster than I ever thought could. Victor Frankenstein unknowingly created a grief-stricken destiny for his time. ( )
  writercity | Aug 13, 2014 |
Man, I could have sworn that I already wrote a review for this.
Short version: classic book, you really can't get a good impression from the Karloff film.
It's deep - really deep; sex, science, our place in the world, existential crises, and so forth. However, I don't think you can go wrong if you just read it and expect to read a story about a man who makes a monster and tragedy ensues. That really is a completely fine reading. ( )
  zhyatt | Aug 10, 2014 |
I love this novel because of the way it has so many layers. Every time I read it I get something new out of it. The language is beautiful, almost poetic and it speaks to my soul.

In this novel, Shelley has simultaneously created both one of my favourite characters and one a characters that I want to punch in the face.

The Monster is articulate, terrible and wonderful all at the same time.
Victor Frankenstein is a self-absorbed, whinny jerk.

What a beautiful story that everyone should read. ( )
  KatieBeitz | Aug 9, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 368 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (315 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shelley, MaryAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloom, HaroldAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brockway, HarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Casaletto, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Couturiau, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deaver, JefferyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hindle, MauriceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunter, J. PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, DianeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karbiener, KarenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
King, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, Walter JamesForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moser, BarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruiz, AristedesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seymour, MirandaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, LyndIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weiss, JimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wrightson, BernieIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?
---Paradise Lost, x, 743-5
Author of Political Justice, Caleb Williams, &c.
Are respectfully inscribed
First words
You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.
The event on which this fiction is founded has been supposed, by Dr. Darwin, and some of the physiological writers of Germany, as not of impossible occurrence. - preface by P.B. Shelley
Mary Shelley: Though her life was fraught with personal tragedy, Mary Shelley was destined for literary greatness. (Barnes and Noble Edition)
Author's Introduction:  The publishers of the Standard Novels, in selecting Frankenstein for one of their series, expressed a wish that I should furnish them with some account of the origin on the story.  (Dover Thrift Edition)
“ I had admired the perfect form of my cottagers- their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions: but how was I terrified when I viewed myself in a transparent pool . . . and when I was convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification.”
"I will be with you on your wedding night!"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the main work for Frankenstein. It should not be combined with any abridgement or adaptation.
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Frankenstein was published in 1818, the work of a 21-year-old genius named Mary Shelley. Hundreds of movies, adaptations, and monster masks later, its reputation remains so lively that the title has become its own word in the English language. Victor Frankenstein, a scientist, discovers the secret of reanimating the dead. After he rejects his hideous creation, not even the farthest poles of the earth will keep his bitter monster from seeking an inhuman revenge. Inspired by a uniquely Romantic view of science’s possibilities, Shelley’s masterpiece ultimately wrestles with the hidden shadows of the human mind.

About the author:

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in London in 1797, the daughter of well-known intellectuals. She married the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1816 and spent much of her adulthood in continental Europe, surrounded by her friends in the English Romantic Movement. Her tumultuous life included the loss of three children in infancy and her husband’s death by drowning in 1822. Nevertheless, her contributions to English literature continue to fascinate and inspire readers and artists alike.

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141439475, Paperback)

Frankenstein, loved by many decades of readers and praised by such eminent literary critics as Harold Bloom, seems hardly to need a recommendation. If you haven't read it recently, though, you may not remember the sweeping force of the prose, the grotesque, surreal imagery, and the multilayered doppelgänger themes of Mary Shelley's masterpiece. As fantasy writer Jane Yolen writes of this (the reviewer's favorite) edition, "The strong black and whites of the main text [illustrations] are dark and brooding, with unremitting shadows and stark contrasts. But the central conversation with the monster--who owes nothing to the overused movie image … but is rather the novel's charnel-house composite--is where [Barry] Moser's illustrations show their greatest power ... The viewer can all but smell the powerful stench of the monster's breath as its words spill out across the page. Strong book-making for one of the world's strongest and most remarkable books." Includes an illuminating afterword by Joyce Carol Oates.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:51 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Presents the story of Dr. Frankenstein and his obsessive experiment that leads to the creation of a monstrous and deadly creature.

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