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Frankenstein (Apple Classics) by Mary…

Frankenstein (Apple Classics) (original 1818; edition 1994)

by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

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Title:Frankenstein (Apple Classics)
Authors:Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Info:Scholastic (1994), Edition: 1, Mass Market Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Mystery, Horror

Work details

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Author) (1818)

1001 books (80) 19th century (472) British (234) British literature (277) classic (1,094) classic fiction (80) Classic Literature (152) classics (874) ebook (102) English (134) English literature (253) fantasy (196) fiction (2,596) Frankenstein (166) gothic (618) horror (1,710) Kindle (101) literature (578) Mary Shelley (124) monster (136) monsters (172) novel (440) own (114) read (332) Romanticism (163) science (111) science fiction (988) sf (111) to-read (208) unread (124)
  1. 263
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (SanctiSpiritus)
  2. 162
    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. 151
    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. 63
    Dracula (Norton Critical Edition) by Bram Stoker (Nubiannut)
  8. 31
    Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock (FFortuna)
  9. 21
    Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus (thecoroner)
  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. 22
    The Diamond Lens by Fitz-James O'Brien (Anonymous user)
  12. 11
    Poor Things by Alasdair Gray (bertilak)
  13. 23
    The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: A modern sequel
  14. 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.
  15. 14
    The Merciful Women by Federico Andahazi (Mahlatikka)
  16. 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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I actually read this in e-book format, and I've only read the unedited version; the version with Shelley's edits is included. My initial reaction is surprise at how much the 1930s movie got right, and disappointment at how much Branagh's version got wrong. This was the perfect winter for reading this book with the final chase in the arctic. I am left wondering if MWS was inspired by period explorations to include that. I was surprised by the framing epistolary narration, and by the first person narration, and there are many layers: the creature narrates his own story to Frankenstein, who then narrates this to Walton, who records it all in letters. There are also inset stories, like the story of the cottagers, which is contained within the creature's narration. I am unsympathetic to Frankenstein: it is all his fault. (And how stupid could he be to leave his wife alone on the wedding night. Idgit.) This is a story of abandonment and rejection. He abandons the monster immediately and the monster is rejected by society. I find this interesting given the context of MWS's personal history at the time. One of my favorite sections is when the creature learns to speak by emulating the cottagers and then teaches himself to read. I love the choice of the 3 books he learns from: Plutarch's "Lives", "Paradise Lost," and "Sorrows of Werter." There are, of course, echoes of Milton's Paradise Lost at times. ( )
  AmyMacEvilly | Apr 8, 2014 |
OK, so I seem to have really known nothing about the original Frankenstein story. Turns out, there is no Igor and the monster ends up with a wonderful command of language. There is also a tremendous lack of action, so I am very glad I listened to this instead of reading it or I never would have finished. I will say, though, I now understand the beginning of the movie I, Frankenstein much better. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Mar 10, 2014 |
The basic outline of Frankenstein is well known thanks to film adaptations, so the briefest summary will suffice: Victor Frankenstein, a Swiss student of natural philosophy at Ingolstadt in Germany, succeeds in creating artificial life--a man-shaped monster eight feet tall. As soon as his monster comes to life, Frankenstein sees how repulsive it is and instantly regrets what he has done. The monster escapes, only to reappear near Geneva years later after having learned to speak and read French. He begins a series of murders aimed at forcing Victor to create a female monster to be his companion. We know that the story will end with Victor pursuing the monster across the Arctic ice cap, because this is actually how the novel begins in a framing narrative by an English explorer.

Mary Shelley packed a lot of thoughtful content into her short and suspenseful novel. First and foremost there is the analogy of Frankenstein and his monster, creator and his creation, as God and Man. The essential questions of how could a benevolent God create evil, and how could an all-powerful God punish Man for being what he was created to be are both here in the monster's plea: "Remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed." And later: "‘Cursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust?" The monster reads Milton's Paradise Lost and sees it as a "picture of an omnipotent God warring with his creatures."

Another facet of the novel is the duality, or yin/yang of the human spirit represented by Frankenstein and his monster just as it would later be depicted by Stevenson as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. "Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous, and magnificent, yet so vicious and base?" the monster asks himself. Recognizing that they are two facets of the same being, he tells Frankenstein that they are "bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us." In the incredible ending scenes of the novel we see that Frankenstein and his monster are indeed bound for eternity in the mutual grip of love and hate, creation and destruction. Each is driven to destroy that which he knows he cannot live without.

Frankenstein is also a cautionary tale of science without conscience and of knowledge without wisdom. In its first pages Frankenstein commands, "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 the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow." Later the monster echoes this sentiment, promising that if he is given his Eve he will renounce civilization and return to Eden. "I will quit the neighbourhood of man, and dwell, as it may chance, in the most savage of places. My evil passions will have fled, for I shall meet with sympathy; my life will flow quietly away, and, in my dying moments, I shall not curse my maker.”

The above sentiments are closely related to Rousseau's political idea of the "noble savage," which we find expressed several times in Frankenstein. For example: "Alas! why does man boast of sensibilities superior to those apparent in the brute; it only renders them more necessary beings. If our impulses were confined to hunger, thirst, and desire, we might be nearly free."

The only directly political statement comes when Victor Frankenstein praises his native Switzerland: "The republican institutions of our country have produced simpler and happier manners than those which prevail in the great monarchies that surround it. Hence there is less distinction between the several classes of its inhabitants; and the lower orders being neither so poor nor so despised, their manners are more refined and moral."

In other reflections of the time we see the Romantic Age's fascination with "the awful and majestic in nature," and we learn that Victor is an habitual user of opiates. Nature plays a major symbolic role in the novel as well, for example the traditional symbolism of water as salvation and ice as salvation denied. The novel begins and ends on a sheet of ice, and the key encounter between Victor and the monster takes place on a glacier. Each of the monster's killings takes place on the shore of a lake or sea.

Frankenstein was first published in 1818. Mary Shelley revised it for publication in 1831. The revisions largely reflected the conservatism of the times. Some expressions of religious piety were added to make the novel less agnostic. And Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein's fiancée, who is his first cousin in the original version is changed into an unrelated orphan raised by the family. The 1831 novel is the one most widely reprinted today, but the bolder 1818 version is probably closer to the author's original intent. They can be distinguished most easily by the chapter numbering. The 1818 edition has three volumes of seven, nine, and seven chapters respectively. The 1831 edition simply has chapters numbered 1-24. ( )
2 vote StevenTX | Mar 2, 2014 |
Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould Me man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?

- Paradise Lost, Milton

Victor Frankenstein is a scientist driven to produce life from experimenting on chemical combinations of inanimate material. His bizarre labors ("I collected bones from charnel houses; and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame" (40)) produce a hideous creature that, upon awakening and approaching its creator, sends the terrified Frankenstein into a frantic departure.

"His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes - that seemed almost of the same color as the dun white sockets in which they were set - his shriveled complexion, and straight black lips." (43).

Having reacquainted himself with his friends and family, from whom he was willingly separate from in the interests of solitary experimentation, Victor keeps his project and its ghastly results a secret, while endeavoring to establish his domestic foundation. Left alone and in a state of disorientation, the creature wanders into the woods, where it learns basic survival skills and becomes acquainted with various wildlife and natural phenomena. It eventually finds its way into human society, where it is met with horror, as people flee its presence in utter fear due to its monstrous features. Their rejection, and the increasing realization of itself as a grotesque abnormality cast into being with no hope of companionship, arouses a mixture of wrath and fear within the creature, which embarks on a path of revenge-directed devastation. It kills a boy after learning that it is Victor's brother, and cleverly frames a young woman as the murderer by placing a picture of the boy's mother, which was contained in a locket around the boy's neck, in her clothing. This woman is Justine, a close friend of Victor's bride-to-be, Elizabeth. She is eventually sentenced to death for the crime. Knowing from the nature of the killing that the creature was responsible, Victor is seized with guilt and grief, but maintains his secrecy.

"I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardor that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filed my heart." (44)

While seeking solitude in the mountains, he encounters the creature and attempts to destroy it, but his creation far exceeds that of normal human strength and endurance, as well as in height, agility, and speed. It does not try to attack Victor, but instead speaks in an eloquent and rational manner, having taught itself language through reading and listening to others. The creature recounts to Victor its trials and experiences since being abandoned, and ends with an appeal to his creator for a companion. It reasons with Victor that as its creator, he owes it to the monster to create for it a female companion to alleviate its loneliness. It promises Victor that the two creatures would depart entirely from human society, and seek to live peacefully in the wild. The scientist fears that, rather than seek harmonious tranquility, the two beasts would combine their monstrous efforts and wreak destruction on human life. The monster threatens to turn Frankenstein's life into a nightmare by taking out its revenge on him and his loved ones should he be denied a companion.

The Monster: "All men hate the wretched; how then must I be hated, who am miserable beyond al living things! yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You propose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life?" (93)

"Cursed 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 from its very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and detested." (130, 131)

Possessed with doubt, and despite being disinclined to the macabre nature of the process, Victor decides to satisfy the creature's desire. While on vacation with his best friend, Henry Clerval, Frankenstein retreats to begin his solitary operation, which he finds much more difficult to endure and complete due to the reality of his first attempt. One night, engrossed in the experiment, he becomes seized with terror at the prospect of the destructive potential of the united monsters, and destroys his work. The creature witnesses this, and runs into the night declaring vengeance, assuring Victor that he will be present on the night of his wedding. Victor flees as well, yet becomes lost in a storm while trying to make his way by a small boat. When he finally makes his way back to land, he discovers that Clerval has been murdered. Victor is initially accused as the killer, though he knows the monster is responsible. Weak and in a state of delirium, he is nursed back to stability while in prison, and is eventually found not guilty.

When Victor returns home, he weds Elizabeth. On the night of their wedding, Victor seeks out the monster in an attempt to destroy it, but while he is on the search, the monster enters the room where Elizabeth is resting and kills her. Frankenstein is stricken with deep sorrow, and resolves to dedicate the remainder of his days to hunting down the monster and destroying it. Knowing that Frankenstein is following it, the monster intentionally leads the scientist to the Arctic Circle. Frankenstein becomes weak and exhausted, suffering due to the efforts of the chase and the harsh conditions. He is discovered by a captain and his crew, whose ship has become trapped in ice. Taken aboard and given care, Frankenstein reveals the entire story to the captain, who grows fond of the scientist.

Frankenstein soon after passes away, and the captain encounters the monster looking down sorrowfully on Frankenstein's body. Though Frankenstein warned the captain not to encourage the monster's expressions, and to destroy it as soon as the chance arrives, the captain listens to the monster's explanation of its actions. It laments to the captain that the death of its creator means that there is no hope or point to its further existence, and swiftly departs with a declaration of self-termination.

Frankenstein is a classic work of literature. It is one of the first literary demonstrations of science fiction, as well as a masterful display of fictional gothic horror, primarily due to its presentations of grotesquery, physical and moral deviance, and chaotic impulse directed towards the terrifying. The novel theoretically and dramatically combines instinctive naturalism and social hostility in the context of intellectually stimulating theatricality. Shelley captivates the reader, not by emphasizing the transitional design of the story, but by confronting her audience with Frankenstein's rational and passionate conflicts. It is also an important work in Romantic literature, including consistent emphasis on elaborate and passionate descriptions of natural beauty and the tranquil effects of natural solitude: "The sight of the awful and majestic in Nature had indeed always the effect of solemnizing my mind, and causing me to forget the passing cares of life. I determined to go alone, for I was well acquainted with the path, and the presence of another would destroy the solitary grandeur of the scene." (91). However, the novel is hardly an endorsement of romantic individualism and ambition, as Shelley brings to ruin the radical and defiant Frankenstein, who dares to defy the laws and customs of society and of his discipline by assuming a godlike position, seeking to control nature and also the course of his own fate. His character is aligned with that of Milton's Satan, or Prometheus; restlessly driven by selfish desire for glory and accomplishment, he succumbs to his own misconception of self, which he perceives as a genuine endeavor to realize the secrets of creation, a task that necessitates his separation from society, including those dear to him. Frankenstein is condemned to misery essentially by his determination to distinguish himself in his field by all costs, including the death of his loved ones and any hope of living a normal life.

"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 the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow." (Victor Frankenstein, 38-39)

"Farewell, Walton! Seek happiness in tranquility, and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries." (Victor Frankenstein, 233)

Shelley's novel thematically presents the constant human struggle for dominance of the course of conscious actions and natural forces, and the futility with which this endeavor is inevitably consumed. It offers a warning to the progressive social mindset intent on globalization, an inherent feature of the Industrial Revolution. It is a negative response to both Romantic and Enlightenment ideals of utopian purity. The work is a penetrating and sophisticated dramatic analysis of the scientific and technological revolutions, presented in the form of a horrific warning carrying the complete denial of progressive ambitions.
  AMD3075 | Feb 23, 2014 |
If you haven't taken the time to read this book, do yourself a favor: take time to read this book. ( )
  mlyons1 | Feb 12, 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.)
Disambiguation notice
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.

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