Adventures in Reading


R.I.P. Challenge: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

“You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.”

I reread Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein using the same Dover edition from my sophomore year in high school that I originally read from. It’s a green and read marbled cover that looks very much like cellular globules drifting. I also discovered the very likely reason why I’ve disliked this book for so long: my teacher at the time, though I loved the woman, had us highlighting and underlining nearly every thing on every page. Fortunately, this time around I really enjoyed the novel.

Victor Frankenstein is an astute, curious, and persistent man and his eventual chemical expertise, attached with some early philosophies, develops a desire in him to recreate life. He brings forth his monster or his dæmon, which he immediately abandons. The monster, now alone and wretched, haunts and begins to manipulate and destroy those around Victor. The book is written with an interesting frame structure with letters from R. Walton to his sister, within this is Victor’s own narrative of events, and within this is the monster’s telling of his life.

I read the 1831 republication of the novel rather than the original 1818 version (which I am quite interested in reading too). While “the core and substance of it [is] untouched,” according to Shelley, section dividers have lapsed and some more aggressive plot points have been removed, or so I’ve read.

Frankenstein is an easy book to read for the simple enjoyment of reading. Film adaptations have over-glamorized the monster and scientific aspects of the book as Shelley deals with these on a much more emotional and internal level. Victor always appears on the edge of sanity. Despite being an interesting narrative, Shelley’s complex themes and questions are equally potent: When does science go too far? Where does responsibility begin and end?

Conclusion: Keeper.

Other thoughts: marireads, Becky’s Book Reviews, Hidden Side of the Leaf, Pardon My French, just what you want…, Raising Pennsylvania, and Book Nut.

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5 Comments

I remember reading this in high school as well but I loved it! Maybe because we didn’t highlight:) But I think it’s because it wasn’t a “monster” book. The “monster” wasn’t originally monstrous but became that way after being abandoned and abhorred. It was quite touching really.

Comment by Amanda

This is one of my favorite books, I loved it that the monster had a real voice, unlike so many of the movies based on this book. I also of course love the story behind the story of the writing of this book. There is a great book on the life of the author Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley, it is called, “Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein.

Comment by MissDaisyAnne

Oh, yes, I read this in first year — and now my little brother is doing the same. Tis fun, isn’t it?

Comment by Christine

My edition is the 1818 one. I’ve read about how she “softened” it a bit in the 1831 edition too, but I can’t remember what the actual changes were. There was something about the relationship between Victor and Elizabeth, something about the 1818 edition having undertones of incest, I think.

Anyway, I’m very glad you enjoyed it this time around!

Comment by Nymeth

Hmmm… I wasn’t aware that there were two different versions. The version I have (a no-frills Dell paperback) includes the prefaces of both, so I’m assuming my version is the 1831, although it’s not clear at all. (Grumble, grumble.)

Comment by Teresa




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