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Frankenstein: A Cultural History Hardcover – October 17, 2007
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Frankenstein: A Cultural History is a comprehensive and entertaining account of Shelley's infamous literary creation, and serves as a testament to the popularity of that, in Shelley's own words, "hideous phantasm of a man."
If there is a flaw to the book, and I can't say for certain that there is, it seems as if Ms. Hitchcock has focused narrowly on her subject, and may, perhaps, have accepted general opinions regarding subject that were merely peripheral to the primary theme. A case in point is her dismissal of Lord Byron's treatment of his illegitimate daughter Allegra Biron (Byron chose this spelling as a way of aknowledging parenthood without confering legitimacy.) Ms. Hitchcock seems to accept the conventional wisdom that Byron was unfeelings and uncaring, as tossed the poor child aside to be raised by a group of Italian nuns -- an opinion which is largely trounced in Doris Langley Moore's "Lord Byron -- Accounts Rendered". I have no convenient way of testing other minor details -- and it's hard to say whether this type of thing really matters given the focus of the book.
Since most people haven't read the original novel (it's not an easy read) Ms. Hitchcock gives an excellent understanding of Ms. Shelley's inspiration and creation, and her discussion of the subsequent interpretations of the work is lively and interesting. This is a good academic work suitable for casual reading, and probably a must read for fans of horror movies and horror fiction.
For anyone who is curious about this book or who adores the modern Prometheus... Just read this. Seriously, now.
Mary Shelley produced an original story but one not without its antecedents. Shelley subtitled her story, published in 1818, "The Modern Prometheus", drawing on the legend of the god who suffered for giving humans fire. She also drew upon the science of the time that was investigating how bodies twitched when sparked with electricity. Immediately after her novel was published, there were stage productions that introduced business that was not in the novel, like the bumbling laboratory assistant, electrical reanimation machines, a monster mute except for grunts and groans, an angry crowd seeking the monster and its creator, and a cataclysmic ending of them both at the climax. It was in 1931 that "something irreversible happened to Frankenstein", the film from Universal Studios. It "... locked in new and indelible imagery for the Monster.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had high hopes for this book going into it. I was hoping for a broad review of the monster's impact on popular culture with significant emphasis on how the monster has endured... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Dan R
my son absolutely loves anything Frankenstein so when I saw this book I knew it was perfect for him and he was thrilled when I handed it to him!!Published on August 3, 2013 by J. Choulet
The cover led me to believe that this would be a lighter, more pop-culture-y book. Instead, it's probably somebody's thesis.Published on January 4, 2013 by Phil B.
Hitchock has provided us with a concise, entertaining, fresh new perspective on one of the most famous monsters of all time. Read morePublished on January 25, 2012 by Courtney
When I was around 8 or 9 years old I had an interest in movie monsters - never mind that I hadn't even seen the movies. Read morePublished on September 15, 2009 by J. Green
Hitchcock's book is infectiously readable. I'm a big fan of Frankenstein (novel, movie, mythology) and have to say this book does not disappoint. Read morePublished on June 1, 2008 by tempunaut