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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein (1818)

by Mary Shelley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
31,91857951 (3.81)1 / 1629
A monster assembled by a scientist from parts of dead bodies develops a mind of his own as he learns to loathe himself and hate his creator.
  1. 364
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (SanctiSpiritus, ghr4)
  2. 232
    Dracula by Bram Stoker (MarcusBrutus, Cecilturtle, LitPeejster)
  3. 243
    The Island of Dr. 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. 113
    The Golem by Gustav Meyrink (Kolbkarlsson)
  5. 92
    The Journals of Mary Shelley by Professor Paula R. Feldman (JessamyJane)
  6. 61
    Grendel by John Gardner (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both books attempt to get into the mind of a monster.
  7. 41
    Monster: A Novel of Frankenstein by Dave Zeltserman (Crypto-Willobie)
    Crypto-Willobie: A decadent noirish retelling of the Frankenstein story from the monster's point of view.
  8. 74
    Dracula [Norton Critical Edition] by Bram Stoker (Nubiannut)
  9. 42
    Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock (FFortuna)
  10. 42
    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.
  11. 32
    Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus (thecoroner)
  12. 43
    The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (Morteana)
  13. 21
    The Hidden by Richard Sala (Michael.Rimmer)
  14. 21
    Sielun pimeä puoli : Mary Shelley ja Frankenstein by Merete Mazzarella (GoST)
  15. 11
    The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories (Dover Thrift Edition) by Mark Twain (JolieLouise)
    JolieLouise: The Mysterious Stranger is about a creator's treatment of his creation.
  16. 33
    The Diamond Lens by Fitz James O'Brien (Anonymous user)
  17. 00
    The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells (DeusXMachina)
    DeusXMachina: Science and the responsibility for its results.
  18. 22
    Mary Shelley's Frankenstein [1994 film] by Kenneth Branagh (Waldstein)
    Waldstein: Nowhere near as bad as many silly reviews would have you believe. Countless changes of the novel, but the spirit, the basic story and the essence of the characters are retained. Actually improved. The movie's more Gothic and more horror, for one (or two) thing(s). More dramatic and more tightly plotted, too. Excellent cast and production design.… (more)
  19. 11
    Seven Masterpieces of Gothic Horror: The Castle of Otranto; The Old English Baron; Mistrust; The White Old Maid; The Heir of Mondolfo; The Fall of the House of Usher; Carmilla by Robert Donald Spector (FrankNstein)
  20. 11
    The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (leigonj)
    leigonj: The romantic elements of Frankenstein are clearly influenced by Goethe's classic of the genre. I was not in the least surprised when it was referred to directly in the text.

(see all 26 recommendations)

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Showing 1-5 of 552 (next | show all)
A man traveling to the North Pole by boat recounts in letters to his sister how he came across one Victor Frankenstein, a young man who told him a wild story of creating life - only to be horrified by his creation.

Frankenstein is one of those books whose images from the movies have probably impacted our our pop culture-driven perception of what they are about more than the original subject matter. That being the case, I was frequently surprised by the text itself and exactly how things played out. Despite relaying the story to a sympathetic listener, Frankenstein comes across as really weak and cowardly in his inaction though much of the story. This reader's sympathy was much more with the creature who did not ask to be made and was given a miserable existence of being feared and hated wherever he went. The flowery language of its time took some getting used to, and I certainly gave my brain a bit of a workout trying to wrap my mind around some of the long and involved sentences. An engaging read that, at just over 200 pages, isn't too daunting of a classic to try. ( )
  bell7 | Jun 3, 2020 |
This is my third read of this classic. :) I've been through all the surprises before, like the fundamental differences between hollywood and literature, and I'm sure by now most people know that the creation is a rather smart and passionate cookie.

My deeper ah-ha moment was the revelation that the real monster is Victor, the creator, not so much the creation. He's a dead-beat dad. No matter how you see it, he's an ass. Does anyone blame the creature for being angry, for learning how to read so well just so he could complain, eloquently, just how much he is disappointed in Victor? We only blame him for the murders. Of course, if he's not really human anymore, so our morals hardly apply, right? Alas. That's another can of worms I'll save for [b:Crime and Punishment|7144|Crime and Punishment|Fyodor Dostoyevsky|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1382846449s/7144.jpg|3393917] someday.

So Victor is really brilliant natural philosopher, absolutely, but he's also very short-sighted, and so we have the other theme of the novel. The "Uh, oh, look what I did," theme. "Is there no one in the whole damn world that can help me clean up this pile of doo?" After keeping silent, blaming himself, and two courtroom dramas later an a couple major tragedies, he still doesn't appeal to a slightly better class of people... say... the military...? :)

Of course, this presages all the technological additions to Mary Shelley's world, the eventual ramp-up of the industrial revolution, and the general atavistic fear of anyone versus the *new*. Sure, it's a cautionary tale, but fortunately, this novel is a LOT MORE than just that.

It's great prose. In fact, it's nearly poetry. It's lofty and passionate and framed by a very popular theme of the day. Finding the Northern Passage. I honestly loved that part of the novel, beginning and ending with a chase of vengeance across the Arctic. I hardly care any more that the novel is part epistolary, because the majority is all first-person. :)

Fun from beginning to end. :) I still put this one in my top-one hundred. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
This was a fascinating story - I'm glad I finally read one of the first (if not the first) science fiction novels and finally know all about the original story. ( )
  j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
The nesting narrative is very effective, and the story -- considering its time, and of course the lack of the archetype 'Frankenstein' in previous literature -- is perhaps surprisingly inventive. It rarely goes in the directions one might at first expect, even when familiar with the basic story beats. The intertextuality is also intriguing to me (thankfully this edition had elaborate endnotes for a lot of these references), and I'm particularly fascinated with the monster's self-identification with both Adam and Lucifer from "Paradise Lost". The novel is additionally quite short, making for a brisk read. That said, it also has a lot of meandering. Dr. Frankenstein's constant dread and anguish takes up a lot of pages (understandably), the monster's (admittedly great) soliloquies the same, as do small side-stories and travel descriptions (less understandably and less great), and this combine to making the plot feel a bit slow at times by my 2020 standards. All in all a novel I found to be good enough to be worth reading for its immeasurable impact on not only popular culture but the world in general, but probably a bit too dreary and dragged out for me to ever decide to revisit now that I've read it once.

- Loki ( )
  Lucky-Loki | May 29, 2020 |
[Reviewed as part of The Illustrated Book Club]

Frankenstein is rightly considered one of the earliest works of science fiction. And like the best science fiction, it is not primarily concerned with whether something is possible (the how-to of so-called hard sci-fi), but what it would mean for human beings if it were possible. Many university bookshelves bow with the weight of competing critiques - feminist, psychoanalytical, marxist/anti-capitalist - arguing over what Frankenstein really means. And such themes are definitely there, to whatever extent. However, it is a book that is rich enough to allow for such a wide range of interpretations because, fundamentally, it is a story told in dreamlike symbols. And like all dreams, they can mean what you want them to. This I think is why its popularity has endured so long.

Despite its dreamlike quality, the narrative itself is at pains to be 'realistic' - through journals and letters and other forms of literary device (a method - if I remember rightly - that it shares with Stoker's Dracula and Defoe's Robinson Crusoe). This is cleverly and skilfully done, for the most part. However, while there is certainly plenty of action and incident, this form of narrative doesn't really lend itself to thriller-like suspense, but more of a sort of meditative distance, allowing us to analyse the psychology and motives of the characters. There are also points at which the attempts at realism seem strained or dated: for example, the monster's own account of how he comes to learn language is detailed but (speaking as a philosopher) implausible. So, it would almost have been better to leave this account out, you might think - but then, remember, this is not hard sci-fi or true realism; the main point is to allow the monster to speak. Unlike the dumb, non-rational things that science exploits and experiments on - Descartes's clockwork cats and dogs - the monster has a voice. Does it really matter how he got it? Don't let the journals and letters fool you. This is a dream, after all, and all attempts to make sense of it are mere rational confabulations of a left-brain all at sea (or at least, in a villa overlooking a lake...).

Gareth Southwell is a philosopher, writer and illustrator.
  Gareth.Southwell | May 23, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 552 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (182 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shelley, Maryprimary 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
Hagemann, MichaelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hindle, MauriceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunter, J. PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, DianeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karbiener, KarenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehtonen, PaavoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, Walter JamesForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monzó, QuimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moser, BarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munch, PhilippeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pechmann, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Polakovics, FriedrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rennerfelt, MonicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruiz, AristedesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Samuel, CoriNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seymour, MirandaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shelley, Percy ByssheCollaboratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevens, DanReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, LyndIllustratorsecondary 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
To Mrs Saville, England. St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17—. You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.
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.  (Author's Introduction to the Standard Novels Edition (1831))
“ 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!"
It was the wretch, the filthy daemon to whom I had given life!
"I have lately been so engaged in one occupation that I have not allowed myself sufficient rest. But I hope that all those employments are now at an end, and that I am at length free."
I felt the bitterness of disappointment; dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space were now become a hell to me.
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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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Book description
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.

Three narratives in one, all of them exploring the unknown. The ship captain is pushing dangerously into the Arctic. Dr. Frankenstein makes a notable breakthrough, creating human life anew, but runs from the consequences. The creature, who creates his own education, and determines that he needs a mate.

This volume distinguishes the three narrative levels: the sea captain, Dr. Frankenstein, and the Creature. Backmatter material adds some information about the book and its author.
Victor Frankenstein is just a college student who wants to figure out the technical details of how life works. Obsessed with chasing this discovery, he creates something unthinkable. And then things all go wrong. Read a Gothic horror classic easily with this modern English translation. But don't worry about missing anything, because the original unedited 1831 version is here too, along with a scholarly essay.
Haiku summary
The creature awakes,
Horrible yet innocent,
Abandonment scars.
It is dangerous,
To play God with life and death,
Horror the result.

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