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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein (original 1818; edition 2005)

by Mary Shelley, Karen Karbiener (Introduction)

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21,58038261 (3.8)1000
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 (Author) (1818)

  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 1000 mentions

English (370)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (2)  German (2)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (381)
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I did not agree with most of Shelley's philosophical points... But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy her story. Synopsis- everyone pretty much knows this but- Dr. Frankenstein creates a monster man who is obviously misunderstood and hunted. Not one of my favorites though. ( )
  Rosenstern | Sep 14, 2014 |
The novel is as complex in its vocabulary, its ability to elicit emotion from the reader and its horror.

There are better places on the 'net and elsewhere to give you a summary of the plot. See the Cliff Notes site for the best rendition: http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/literature/Frankenstein-Book-Summary.id-1...

The book starts out on a ship that is exploring the extreme north, where ice floes and freezing temperatures are the norm. The captain sees a figure on a dogsled going across the landscape. He thinks this is weird. Then he later finds a man on an ice sheet near death.

The captain, Robert Walton, pulls him aboard and is amazed at his articulate manner (I guess hanging out with sailors all day for weeks does that to you). His name is Henry Frankenstein. Henry finds that Robert has some interest in bringing things to life, etc., and experimentations of that nature. Henry freaks out and says no, let me tell you my story.

And so it goes.

Though Shelly's language is at times a bit of a chore to get through, I was impressed with the flow and style of the story, her commentaries on family, Nature, the poor, and Man daring to act the role of Creator.

The details of Victor creating the creature are a bit weak, but understandable. After all I'm sure Henry did not want to give all the details otherwise we'd be setting up shop and doing it ourselves!

There are not secret labs, no big electric machines and no maniacal servants or criminal brains. There is plenty of secret work, as Victor, through use of chemistry and alchemy texts, creates the "spark of life." But, he is so horrified at what he has done, that he suffers a nervous breakdown and takes months to convalesce.

The creature, with no guidance and his master abandoning him, wanders the countryside as he learns to survive. He starts out noble and appreciative of nature, but also finds that Man rejects him utterly.

Unlike God's creation of Adam, and Genesis' exclamation that His creation was "good", Victor's creation is found to be evil.

The creature holes up in a cottage where he can spy on the people therein. There, he learns the language and the behaviors of the three people within. Here Shelly makes much about the unfairness of prison justice and the squalor being experienced by the common folk of the time. Living during the time of the Industrial Revolution, it is understandable she would make comments along the lines of destitution and that machines alone can degrade Man. Quite interesting.

As the story progresses, the creature decides that he will avenge himself against Man and against his creator for making him ugly and wretched.

And so the horror begins. Victor tries to make a life for himself but the creature has other plans as the creature kills his little brother William.

Victor finds the creature and they make a bargain: create a female version for the creature's companionship and he will go off to South America and leave him forever. And if he does not, the creature will make his life a living Hell.

What a choice, huh?

Anyway, Victor tries to make a woman for the creature, but then changes his mind and rips it to shreds. He is afraid that they will reproduce and populate Man with these demons. (Why he didn't just make the female version incapable of giving birth, I'm not sure.)
And so the story goes: through the wretched squalor of poor villages, through the injustice and inhumane prisons and tribunals, the death penalty for an innocent, and further death of Victor's father, the murder of his wife Elizabeth and Henry Clerval.

The struggle and horror between the creature and Victor is ameliorated by Victor's view of Nature, in the Swiss Alps, and his travels along the Rhine and in England, Scotland and Ireland. Interesting how Shelly shows that Nature, or God's creations, will create a positive joy, but Man's abominations will not.

Shelly makes many comments not only on the society of her time, but philosophical concepts of science gone made, of horror and squalor, and of the justice systems of the time.
[b:Frankenstein|18490|Frankenstein|Mary Shelley|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1255576965s/18490.jpg|4836639] ( )
  jmourgos | Sep 12, 2014 |
such a fascinating read - and probably not what you think it's going to be if you are only basing your opinion on film or stage adaptations. i had some issues with certain points in the story feeling like padding - like frankenstein's travels from geneva to scotland. i also am generally not a fan of coincidence in fiction, so when those moments happened in the story, it was something i really noticed and didn't enjoy. shelley could be a bit clunky with her writing - but she was so young. it's quite an accomplishment for a 19yo's first novel - a story that has endured and been loved for such a long time. i am on the fence about whether to not i like that frankenstein's 'how' was never truly revealed. does it matter? i can't decide.

this particular edition is great. i enjoyed [author:Elizabeth Kostova|5918] introduction a lot. i read it after i read the story, and it did add to my enjoyment of the story. "...the hard science in Frankenstein is always in soft focus. Despite this possible shortcoming, the novel brims with questions we face in our own era of gene therapy, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Can and should the force we call life be "created" or genetically altered? What are the possible ethical and human repercussions of such experiments? Should there be a limit to our attempts to explore and control the natural world? Once we have tampered with nature, is it our obligation - or perhaps our doom - to try to restore balance by further tampering?" ( )
  DawsonOakes | Aug 27, 2014 |
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 |
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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)

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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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