Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – Frankenstein
Read By: Simon Vance
Length: 8h 21m (352 pages)
Genre: Classic, Science Fiction
Started: 11 January 2015
Finished: 18 January 2015
Where did it come from? Audible.
Why do I have it? It was my book club’s pick for classics month!
If man creates a
monster, then abandons it,
who’s the REAL monster?
Summary: Victor Frankenstein, the son of a wealthy Geneva family, was encouraged in his pursuit of the study of the natural sciences, and from his reading gleans the idea of creating life from non-life. So he builds a creature from human body parts, and animates it, and is then struck by the horror of what he’s done, during which time the monster escapes. It soon learns that it is monstrous, and by hiding in a shed near a house with a family, learns language. It vows vengeance on Frankenstein, for creating it and abandoning it, and proceeds to kill those that Frankenstein loves, and to destroy his every chance for happiness.
Review: This was a really fascinating read, and made for a surprisingly intense discussion at book club. I’d grown up with the pop-culture monster image in my head, and I knew enough to know that Frankenstein was the scientist, not the monster (although does his behavior make him the one that’s truly monstrous? Discuss.), but I’d never before read the actual book. I was surprised how much of it doesn’t match the Hollywood version, and by how much of it’s from the monster’s point of view – he’s very articulate, which surprised me.
The prose was really pretty dense – no point in saying once what you can say three times with a bunch of adjectives, I guess – and there was a lot of wailing and (metaphorical) gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, which got a little bit (a lot, actually) tiring. But I liked that it could be read on a number of levels – as a horror story, as a story about scientific ethics, as a story about the human condition and what it really means to be human, so that was all great. I also entertained myself as I was listening by seeing how far I could carry my theory that Frankenstein himself actually was murdering all those people – several times throughout the novel he goes into fits and has a fever from which he doesn’t recover for several weeks, and when he does, someone else close to him is dead. It doesn’t quite hold up throughout the entire story, but I thought it made an interesting possibility. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: I didn’t love it, but it’s absolutely worth reading, both to get the real scoop on the mad-scientist cliche, and to provide lots of really interesting possibilities for debate with others.
First Line: To Mrs Saville, England. St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17–. You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.
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