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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
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Frankenstein (original 1818; edition 2005)

by Mary Shelley, Karen Karbiener (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
22,43539756 (3.8)1092
Member:thatOlJanxSpirit
Title:Frankenstein
Authors:Mary Shelley
Other authors:Karen Karbiener (Introduction)
Info:Barnes & Noble Classics (2005), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, literature, british

Work details

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

  1. 293
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (SanctiSpiritus)
  2. 182
    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.
  3. 171
    Dracula by Bram Stoker (MarcusBrutus, Cecilturtle, LitPeejster)
  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. 30
    Grendel by John Gardner (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both books attempt to get into the mind of a monster.
  8. 63
    Dracula (Norton Critical Edition) by Bram Stoker (Nubiannut)
  9. 31
    Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock (FFortuna)
  10. 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."
  11. 21
    Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus (thecoroner)
  12. 32
    The Diamond Lens by Fitz-James O'Brien (Anonymous user)
  13. 10
    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.
  14. 10
    The Hidden by Richard Sala (Michael.Rimmer)
  15. 11
    Sielun pimeä puoli : Mary Shelley ja Frankenstein by Merete Mazzarella (GoST)
  16. 11
    Poor Things by Alasdair Gray (bertilak)
  17. 23
    The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: A modern sequel
  18. 24
    The Merciful Women by Federico Andahazi (Mahlatikka)
  19. 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.
  20. 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.

(see all 20 recommendations)

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English (386)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (2)  German (2)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (397)
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We're discussing this here: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/939736-july-s-gtr-frankenstein. (July 2012 and ongoing so feel free to join us late. :) ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel was chosen by one of my book groups for our March ‘banned books’ theme (it was banned for a time by the Apartheid government in South Africa). I’m not actually certain how many times I have read Frankenstein – in a sense it doesn’t matter – probably four, possibly five. I still love it; after almost two hundred years, the novel still remains very readable.

“You are my creator, but I am your master; Obey!”

Of course now the story of Frankenstein has become almost myth like, people refer laughingly of having created a monster, and like any myth the story can’t really be believed, I don’t think that matters. Frankenstein is about our deepest fears, written at a time when religion and science were often at odds, and the possibilities that science held was no doubt treated with a degree of suspicion.

Mary Shelley conceived the idea of Frankenstein while travelling in Geneva with her future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and others in 1814, she was just eighteen. There is a famous story behind the story which I talked about in a previous post. The novel appeared anonymously at first in 1818, only appearing under Mary Shelley’s own name for the first time in France in 1823. It is possible I think to hear the voice of that young girl of 1814 in many of the ravings and pleadings of both Victor Frankenstein and his creation, that boiling sense of injustice we so often feel at that age is ever present.

“Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be his world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.”

Like many novels of about this period – Frankenstein has an epistolary form, although the majority of the novel is one long narrative – which Robert Walton – whose letters open the novel – sends on to his sister for her entertainment. Walton is the Captain of a ship on an expedition to the North Pole, one day he spots a gigantic figure, hurtling across the ice on a sled. Later he and his men rescue an exhausted, emaciated Victor Frankenstein from the frozen waters, around their ship, whose pursuit of the figure Walton spotted, has led him to this isolated landscape. Walton becomes great friends with Victor, who is a dreadfully haunted man, his life destroyed – he tells Robert his story.

frankenstein2Victor Frankenstein was born into a wealthy Geneva family, he is encouraged to study science and explore the natural wonders of the world. When Victor is a young boy, his family adopt the daughter of his father’s greatest friend, Elizabeth who grows up with Victor and with whom he later falls in love. Having spent much time studying ancient scientific texts – that other scientists have long since abandoned, Victor pursues the creation of life itself – breathing life into non-living matter. He uses body parts – to create a being of absolute perfection as he conceives it. What he eventually creates is quite simply a monster- the being he creates; a living, breathing sentient creature is miles away from the dream he had, a hideous, gigantic monster, mute, and terrifying, and from which Victor himself soon flees.

The creature pursues Victor across Europe, in revenge for this abandonment by his own creator. In case there is anyone who hasn’t read this before – I don’t want to reveal too much about havoc brought to Victor’s life by the thing he created, but he wreaks a terrible revenge. However, when Victor and the creature come together again on a mountain top (as you do) the creature – who can now speak, urges Victor to listen to his own story – the story of how he came to know language, how he learned to empathise, and feel affection for people.

‘Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and abhorred.’

The creature’s story – allows the reader to see the other side of the experiment – the creature becomes more human, though in his grief and horror at what he is, hasn’t finished with Victor yet. Having found himself ostracised by society for his physical hideousness, the creature urges Victor to make for him a mate – with whom he can disappear to an isolated place and live happily and companionably. Feeling he has no option, Victor agrees initially, though he is horrified at the very thought, so when he changes his mind and destroys the beginnings of his new creation, the creature’s fury is terrifying, his final revenge destroying any hope Victor had in the future.

Frankenstein, is an improbably, fantastic gothic fantasy, the reader needs to suspend belief – for what some have called an early science fiction novel which is full of slightly wonky science. These days Frankenstein can also be seen as an early horror story – having inspired so many creepy adaptations, but it is a novel of the romantic period, which is infused with the gothic elements I love so much. ( )
  Heaven-Ali | Apr 14, 2015 |
it’s been a long time coming in reading this. part of putting it off for so long, i have to admit, was due to a prejudice many people suffer from: they think they know Frankenstein because they know the movies and it’s just a tawdry horror story; not worth reading.

so far from the truth.

beyond that, though, i just didn’t want to have to slog through another “classic” book. i’ve read enough of them to know that i am not much of a fan of most of them. whether it be the writing style or the message, i often find them overrated. i can understand their historical significance in having changed the way we write, the issues allowed to be discussed, and the way we think. some of them have even changed Society. i get that and appreciate it.

but none of that means that i enjoyed reading the book or got anything out it personally; wading through stilted prose, hashing and rehashing seemingly profound ideas, attempting to see the bold statement that people even now find provocative.

Mary Shelley’s classic was little different for me. i can see where this book shook foundations and shocked Victorians through their stiff collars but as for my own personal enjoyment of the tale told- meh. it certainly was not the slog that i found Ivanhoe but neither was it Lord of the Rings- two “classics” i would place at either end of a continuum of reading pleasure for me.

however, the story itself is much more compelling and profound than the general populace believes. this is pure science fiction in the vein of 2001, Nightfall, and Stranger in a Strange Land. it decidedly does not belong in the horror category with Dracula, The Mummy, or The Shining even though Hollywood has unfortunately seated this tale there. it is horror in the same sense as Alien, Jurassic Park, or The Andromeda Strain are horror. in other words, not really.

i have seen Frankenstein often described as a “cautionary tale” about science but what do they mean? “cautionary” in that Science can produce monsters or in the sense that those who create can do so in a cold and calculating way taking little to no responsibility for that which they release upon the world?

it is the latter that i see in this story. Shelley, whether or not she meant to, turns the common view of a monstrous creation born of inanimate flesh around in a twist to show us something unexpected: the true monster of this story is Victor Frankenstein and those like him. i think that readers now, but most especially then, would understand and even support Frankenstein’s reactions to and rantings about his work only to have that belief turned on its head at the end when the creature speaks. this is a case where this book and the tropes it contains may have helped to change Society for it is much less likely for modern peoples to read this and side exclusively with Frankenstein.

in its historical context, one can also see that Shelley might have, again consciously or not, been using “the creation’s” voice as a channel for the women of the time period. that is, perhaps her own point of view as a woman during a time and place where women had little or no rights guided her hand when writing the voice of the “creature.”

this book should be read not only because it is a classic nor only because it might have had a major role to play in the changing of social paradigms but because Pop Culture has so mangled this tale as to make it unrecognizable to those who know it. it is still thought-provoking and has the power to inform us about prejudice, vanity, avarice, and accountability. this point can also be made about the novel itself, that what i said at the beginning of this is true: most people think they know the story of this book when, in fact, they know only mangled views of it. it works as its own metaphor. ( )
1 vote keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
For a novel that is almost 200 years old, Frankenstein holds up remarkably well. There's no need to summarize the plot; even those who haven't read the book are familiar with the guilt-plagued scientist Frankenstein and his oversized, ugly, yet sensitive and misunderstood, creation. I thought the novel would be scary, but the overall tone is more melancholy than frightening. I'm glad I finally read it. ( )
  akblanchard | Mar 3, 2015 |
Horror, not in pangs of mortal fear by some supernatural monster, but in anguish and slow torture of the human soul by the ripples of its existence. Horror, but equally powerful a tale of philosophy, tragedy, and love. Universal and still controversial mind-shifting material in our current age and times woven with the greatest skill and beauty. ( )
  JorgeCarvajal | Feb 13, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (314 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
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
Monzó, QuimTranslatorsecondary 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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Epigraph
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
Dedication
TO
WILLIAM GODWIN
Author of Political Justice, Caleb Williams, &c.
THESE VOLUMES
Are respectfully inscribed
by
THE AUTHOR
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.
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))
Quotations
“ 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.)
Disambiguation notice
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.

Haiku summary

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)

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

(summary from another edition)

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