- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Brown (August 9, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1936041111
- ISBN-13: 978-1936041114
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2,398 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,146,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Frankenstein, loved by many decades of readers and praised by such eminent literary critics as Harold Bloom, seems hardly to need a recommendation. If you haven't read it recently, though, you may not remember the sweeping force of the prose, the grotesque, surreal imagery, and the multilayered doppelgänger themes of Mary Shelley's masterpiece. As fantasy writer Jane Yolen writes of this (the reviewer's favorite) edition, "The strong black and whites of the main text [illustrations] are dark and brooding, with unremitting shadows and stark contrasts. But the central conversation with the monster--who owes nothing to the overused movie image but is rather the novel's charnel-house composite--is where [Barry] Moser's illustrations show their greatest power ... The viewer can all but smell the powerful stench of the monster's breath as its words spill out across the page. Strong book-making for one of the world's strongest and most remarkable books." Includes an illuminating afterword by Joyce Carol Oates. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up-Full-color drawings, photographs, and reproductions with extended captions have been added to the unedited text of Shelley's novel, thus placing the work in the context of the era in which it was written. The artwork faithfully represents the text and makes this edition appealing to reluctant readers. Unfortunately, many of the captions provide tangential information that, although interesting, interrupts the flow of the story. However, readers will quickly learn that it is not necessary to read every caption and appreciate this volume for its many quality illustrations.
Michele Snyder, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Turns out, I didn't know anything. Mary Shelley was very young woman when she wrote this piece, and her immaturity in writing does reflect within the pages. More on that later. This novel is important, as it ushered in a genre never before experienced: science fiction. Although this genre would become more advanced and developed, this novel broke ground, so to speak. What is unfortunate is Mary Shelley had a concept (such as re-animating a corpse), but didn't have the knowledge or understanding of how those concepts might be realized, so there are gaps. For example, the reader goes from A to C and is never truly given an explanation for B.
However, that's where imagination comes in, and the greater part of the story is not how certain concepts are realized, but a much larger moral issue. The question is: if humans have the capacity to defy the laws nature and play creator, should humans take on that role or should there be a code of morality to be considered? I do think this moral issue is also addressed in the movies I've seen, but not to such a large degree as it is in the book.
The variances between the book and the movies are astounding. If you've seen the myriad movies made of "Frankenstein," and believe you know the story, think again. The movie is really nothing like the book. The book offers so much more understanding of the "monster" - what he thinks, what he feels, and why he does what he does.
The writing style is a bit obtuse and outdated, but then, this was written during the gothic period. Also, Mary Shelley was quite young, and was not as seasoned a writer and it shows. Still, the novel is short and fairly easy to read, and the character and personality Mrs. Shelley gives the "monster" is well worth it.
First, it's an excellent example of literature of the English Romantic period. It has the Gothic element as exemplified by its eerie monster; the detailed appreciation of nature with its descriptions of lakes, mountains, forests, and ice floes; and the idealization of the common man in its central characterization of the humble DeLaceys, who are at first so much admired by the monster.
Second, it is the first example of science fiction in English literature, as science is used to create human life in the laboratory. Some may argue that the third voyage of GULLIVER'S TRAVELS is also science fiction with its flying island, thus making FRANKENSTEIN the first complete novel in this genre.
Third, the plot of the novel is an intricate frame story that contains not one, not two, but three narratives. The outside frame consists of the epistolary technique--a series of letters exchanged between Captain Robert Walton and his sister, Margaret. Walton is exploring the North Pole region on his ship when he sights first a giant who is fleeing across the ice and then shortly afterward Victor Frankenstein in a physically diminished state. Walton rescues Frankenstein, who was pursuing the nameless, eight-foot tall creature. Frankenstein then proceeds to tell his life story in an extended flashback.
A brilliant student, Frankenstein's reach exceeds his grasp when he makes the decision to play God. Using recycled body parts of humans and animals and his knowledge of chemistry, he creates a monster with yellow eyes and yellow, almost transparent skin, so hideous looking that Frankenstein abandons his creation as soon as the thing opens its watery eyes. The monster disappears, and Frankenstein himself is ill for a period of time. Eventually he learns of the death of his young brother, supposedly killed by his caretaker, who is subsequently tried and executed. Frankenstein suspects otherwise and eventually confronts his ghastly creation, who confesses.
This confession, which is the third narrative, will wring the heart of the reader, and this account is the finest part of Shelley's novel. The monster has frightening encounters with humans and so eventually hides near the cottage of the DeLacey family. He watches them, falls in love with their humble lifestyle, and does farm chores for them at night in secret. By listening to them, he learns to speak and by borrowing their books, again at night, he learns to read. Thus he becomes the educated creature confessing to Victor Frankenstein. Finally, the monster gets up the courage to reveal himself, first to the blind DeLacey grandfather, but when he is discovered by the adult children, all hell literally breaks loose.
I cannot emphasize enough how poignant and heart-breaking this section of the novel is. After his rejection by the DeLaceys, the monster burns down their cottage and eventually murders his creator's brother. Now he asks Victor Frankenstein to have mercy on him--by creating a mate for him! It will be a new Eve for the new Adam, and Frankenstein reluctantly agrees. However, when the time comes to do the deed, he cannot bring himself to bring another monster into the world.
What follows is a continuation of Victor's story and then Walton's--it is a tale of madness, mayhem, and murder that eventually ends in self-destruction on the ice floes of the North Pole.