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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein (original 1818; edition 2005)

by Mary Shelley, Karen Karbiener (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
24,61844744 (3.81)1269
Authors:Mary Shelley
Other authors:Karen Karbiener (Introduction)
Info:Barnes & Noble Classics (2005), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, literature, british

Work details

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

  1. 313
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (SanctiSpiritus)
  2. 192
    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.
  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. 63
    Dracula [Norton Critical Edition] by Bram Stoker (Nubiannut)
  7. 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.
  8. 30
    Grendel by John Gardner (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both books attempt to get into the mind of a monster.
  9. 20
    The Hidden by Richard Sala (Michael.Rimmer)
  10. 31
    Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock (FFortuna)
  11. 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."
  12. 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.
  13. 21
    The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (Morteana)
  14. 21
    Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus (thecoroner)
  15. 32
    The Diamond Lens by Fitz-James O'Brien (Anonymous user)
  16. 00
    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.
  17. 11
    Sielun pimeä puoli : Mary Shelley ja Frankenstein by Merete Mazzarella (GoST)
  18. 11
    Poor Things by Alasdair Gray (bertilak)
  19. 23
    The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: A modern sequel
  20. 24
    The Merciful Women by Federico Andahazi (Mahlatikka)

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English (425)  French (4)  Spanish (4)  Danish (3)  German (2)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Hungarian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (442)
Showing 1-5 of 425 (next | show all)
The story of Victor Frankenstein as told by Mary Shelley in Frankenstein was a very familiar one having seen so many different versions on film and television over the years, and although the film “Young Frankenstein” starring Gene Wilder will always be my favourite, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the original.

This classic story, originally published in 1818 about a young scientist who discovers a method to reanimate the dead and creates a grotesque creature who then inadvertently causes trouble isn’t the horror story that I was expecting. Instead this is a story that examines what it is to be human. Although Victor sees this creature as a brute it is in fact, his own arrogance and his treatment of this living being that makes him the monster rather than the creature he created.

Written in rather flowery and somewhat dated prose nevertheless this is a book to admire for many reasons. Written when she was only 18, this particular novel has inspired generations and Frankenstein has become a familiar legend to all. This book is also one of the first science fiction books ever written and it’s themes of a science project gone wrong and the ethical issues of advancing technology beyond known limits are still a mainstay of that genre. Frankenstein is a story that deserves to be read for it’s emotion and imagery and although classed as horror what I will take away from this book is the feeling of sadness and rejection that being “different” brings. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Oct 25, 2016 |
I had to read Frankenstein for a class in high school, and I first I was really dreading it. However, my feelings toward this novel quickly changed! While it's definitely not a favorite of mine, I must say I enjoyed it. Frankenstein is a classic and occasionally difficult to understand, so for that reason I would not recommend this to just anybody.
  alyssamerryman3 | Oct 13, 2016 |
I have seen the horror movies concerning Frankenstein, but Mary Shelley's book, Frankenstein, surpasses every Frankenstein movie. The language and grammar are superb, and the discussion of Frankenstein creating the creature generate wonder at Shelley's scope of science, literature, and multitudes of topics. Mary Shelley started the story at 18 and completed this descriptive story two years later. Shelley brings into the narrative many allusions to other writers both past and present. I listened to an audiobook which presented an excellent reading of this journey. The story follows the narrative of Captain Robert Walton and then of Victor Frankenstein, both men present interesting views on life and death. After hearing this excellent book, I loathe reading a merely average book ( )
  delphimo | Sep 23, 2016 |
I think I might be a rarity when it comes to Frankenstein readers. I do not, ultimately, feel very much sympathy for Frankenstein’s monster. That’s right, folks, I have a cold, dead heart. And here’s why.

Our world, right now, contains a not-insignificant amount of people who have never known love. They’ve been abandoned, rejected, abused by their families. They’ve never had the love of a parent, a creator, and some of them have been rejected over and over throughout their lives because of the difficulties that painful start has left them with, like the children bouncing from foster home to foster home because they’re troubled, as if a child who has never had stability, safety, or affection should be anything but. And many of these people go on to be good. They go on to give love, even if they never received it. And if one doesn’t, if one commits the kind of murders that Frankenstein’s monster commits, if one becomes as ugly inside as Frankenstein’s monster became, we put them behind bars. No matter how sad their start, we still hold them responsible for their choice of who to be, because the fact that that choice is harder for some doesn’t really absolve anyone of the responsibility to make the right one.

The story of Frankenstein’s monster is tragic. If his creator had not been a coward, he could have been a good person. If humans were less inclined to believe that that which is frightening in appearance is evil in nature, and those to whom he reached for solace didn’t drive him away, he could have been a good person. But in spite of both of those things, he also could have been a good person. He just chose not to be. And that is why, although he is a monster with a heartbreaking origin story, he is a monster.

While I also certainly don’t like Victor Frankenstein as a person, and consider him a coward, cowardice being pretty high on the list of intolerable traits for me these days, I also don’t condemn some of the choices he made after bringing the monster to life. Most particularly, I think it would have been compounding his sins to provide the monster a companion. He would have been bringing another life into being to exist in slavery. A life without companionship, which might not have been the monster’s lot forever had he not chosen to turn to darkness when he did, is surely preferable to a life created to be lived as the sole companion to someone you did not choose and cannot escape. Two wrongs do not make a right, and I think at that point the only right available to Frankenstein was to choose never to use the knowledge of reawakening life again, and to die without sharing or recording it. Of course, being Frankenstein, he chose the least courageous way in which to go about that.

So it’s kind of remarkable that I enjoyed so much a highly character-driven piece in which I do not like any of the characters, but I did. I think even in my distaste for who they are, or who they became, I enjoyed how they were painted. Victor is a weak man, but as someone with an insatiable thirst for knowledge I can certainly sympathise with and relate to his infernal curiosity. And living in an era in which we all live our lives very publically, in which our constant use of social media can foster a sense of intimacy not only with distant friends and family but with people we barely know, I could appreciate even more the poignance of the monster’s connection with the French family he observed for so long. It made me think of the Five of Pentacles from the Tarot deck, of the figures bereft and miserable in the snow while just beyond them lies the church, its window radiating a warm glow, the spiritual solace and earthly community they are so close to and yet are denied, or deny themselves.

In some adaptations of Frankenstein there’s an anti-scientific bent which I dislike, and expected to encounter here, but was pleased to find that it’s not really there. The message seems less about slapping down the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake than about condemning experimentation conducted without regard to morality, which I can get on board with.

It’s surprising to learn that Mary Shelley was only 19 when she wrote this, as her prose has a lovely flowing quality that I think some modern writers could serve to emulate, although it does perhaps account for issues with pacing and contrivance. I didn’t really need to spend a chapter learning half of a family’s life story just so I knew why they were being visited by an Arabian plot device, and could’ve appreciated some of that page count being spent on more authentic emotional reactions and fallout from one of the major deaths in the story, to name a couple of the more significant dissonant notes. Still, it is a far more thought-provoking work than most of its adaptations would lead me to believe, and enjoyable on many levels regardless of where you fall on the monster sympathy spectrum. I’ll go put my heart in the microwave now.

Review from Bookette.net ( )
1 vote Snumpus | Aug 10, 2016 |
The real horror of Frankenstein is in Frankenstein's realization that he destroyed everyone he held dear in his prideful act of creating a living being. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shelley, Maryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloom, HaroldAfterwordsecondary authorall 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
Lehtonen, PaavoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, Walter JamesForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monzó, QuimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moser, BarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munch, PhilippeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruiz, AristedesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seymour, MirandaIntroductionsecondary 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.
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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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.

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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 Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:47:18 -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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