Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


Obsessed by creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life by electricity. But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear. Mary Shelley’s chilling gothic tale was conceived when she was only eighteen, living with her lover Percy Shelley near Byron’s villa on Lake Geneva. It would become the world’s most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity.

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  1. moirabbc

     /  October 16, 2009

    When I bought my copy, I noticed it was the 1815 original version, written when she was 19 and staying with Shelley, Byron et al in the Alps. I knew it was an acclaimed novel with very important themes but I would not have chosen to read it, probably because I grew up with the neck-bolted Boris karloff ‘s cinematic portrayals. However, I loved it, so thank you Book Chat Extra for an inspired choice.

    My copy had a fascinating introduction, explaining how Mary Shelley amended Frankenstein in the 1830s, toning it down to make it more palatable to early Victorian mores. This later version is more familiar but l feel it lacks the subversive, brilliantly original edge of the earlier one. She was indeed a gifted young woman, being the child of 2 towering radical thinkers, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft.

    The book recreated such happy memories of a holiday in Annecy when an awesome electrical storm bounced between the Alps and the lake. The excitement and feeling of being alive! The romantic heart beneath this cynical exterior makes me believe that Mary Shelley experienced the same and maybe it inspired this wonderful book.

  2. jadebeecroft

     /  October 14, 2009

    Once again, sorry I missed the meeting, I did read the book, but then I ended up having a day off work so wasn’t in Derbyshire. Definitely coming to the next one, Old Filth.

    I agree totally with Michelle in that the best bit for me by far was the bit narrated by the monster himself. It was very moving and I totally sympathised with his plight.

    The other bits I found to be quite long and drawn out, especially on the ship, and I’m afraid I had little sympathy for the monster’s creator Frankenstein (although I felt incredibly sorry for his poor long-suffering girlfriend, and felt she should have ditched him years ago, rather than agreeing to marry him and ending up being killed!)

    Right up to the end he seemed to have little comprehension of the scale of what he had created – just a selfish hate for the monster.

    I too found it incredible that Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein when she was just 19. Although perhaps the lack of feeling in Victor’s character betrays a bit of her youth?

    Have we decided what the next classic is going to be?

  3. richardbbc

     /  October 7, 2009

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Frankenstein’ again. The introduction to my Penguin edition of the novel talked about Frankenstein’s existential angst so I read the novel this time as though the monster was the dark side of Frankenstein’s psyche made hideously real and set free to wreck havoc on everything Frankenstein held dear. The way the monster and his creator were locked together in a cycle of violence and mutual fascination made this reading very credible and it meant that ‘Frankenstein’ became the precursor of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ and ‘Dorian Gray’ and was every bit as dark.

  4. michelebbc

     /  October 7, 2009

    I’ve read and enjoyed Frankenstein in the past and this time, for the group, listened to it in audio format. I was suprised to find that there were large sections I didn’t remember and I did feel that the fact that this was originally intended as a short story that was then expanded into a novel showed. The ‘wrapper’ of the story of the sea voyage told in the letters of Walton and his sister I felt to be too long and detailed and a distraction from the main story – I had largely forgotten that Walton featured much at all as a character.

    The story of the creature I found to be very moving in it’s description of his confusion, isolation and lonliness following the rejection of him by Frankensteinby who in effect is his parent. His cruelty results from this rejection and I found myself identifying with him and not Victor, who is an egotistical self-centred character. The story raises many questions around ideas of perception, points of view, how we judge by appearances and allocate qualities of good and evil.

    Amazing to think that this was written when Mary Shelley was 19!


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