Genre: Classic- Gothic Horror
Publication Date: 1818
Page Count: 201
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I recently read Frankenstein for the first time for my British Literature class and I really enjoyed it. I had read Gris Grimly's graphic novel adaptation of it last year and absolutely loved it (his art style matches the story and tone perfectly) but this was my first time reading the original. I will be writing a paper about this and making a unit plan of lessons for a high school classroom based on this one so I will be working with it quite a bit this semester. Any thoughts or insights about this novel are welcome as usual!
I'm fascinated by the origin story of this novel, and I would love to read more about Shelley and the Romantics in her circle. Shelley started writing this story when she was only 18 years old when she was stuck in Switzerland due to weather with a number of other Romantic writers. She says the idea for the story came to her in a waking dream and she composed the story as part of a bet the authors made to see who could write the best piece while stuck. At the time, Shelley was married to the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (who was still married to his first wife when they began their romance, they did not wed until his first wife had committed suicide) with whom she had a rather tremulous marriage; Shelley gave birth to four children, but only one survived. Shelley was not faithful to her, and he died in a drowning accident when Shelley was only twenty four. After his death, Shelley wrote to support herself and her son and worked to preserve her husband's work and place in literary history. She died of brain cancer at the age of fifty three.
She first published Frankenstein under anonymous, and many thought that her husband had wrote it. Additionally, Mary Shelley's mother is the famous early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft who wrote A Vindication for the Rights of Women.
This novel has so many themes and ideas to explore. There is the idea of dangerous knowledge and science, ostracizing people for their appearance, responsibility of the creator, and man attempting to act as God. This is not a long novel, my copy is two hundred pages, but it is such a meaningful and thought provoking work that has fascinated and horrified readers for almost two hundred years. This novel is still extremely reliant as we are still grappling with the idea of dangerous knowledge and scientific advances to this day.
Victor Frankenstein is horribly whiny, and in Shelley's eyes, an irresponsible creator (that idea can be applied to a creator of art or knowledge.) I really loved the contrast between the monster's "monsterly appearance" and eloquent language use and human emotions. In short, this novel is quite brilliant and something that you should experience. It is often considered one of the first science fiction works (if not the first) which is now a genre dominated by male authors, but started by a female author.