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.