Frankenstein

Frankenstein

4.0 1038
by Mary Shelley
     
 

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British horror classic with a foreword by Walter James Miller and an afterword by Harold Bloom.

Overview

British horror classic with a foreword by Walter James Miller and an afterword by Harold Bloom.

Editorial Reviews

Library Bookwatch
Frankenstein's new look tailors a play for performance and provides a strong plot suitable for contemporary drama.
James Hynes
. . .[T]he novel Frankenstein is quite a read. . . .It's highly Romantic, in the literary sense. . .[there is] a good deal of attractive torment and self-doubt, from both Victor Frankenstein and his creation. . . .If ever a book needed to be placed in context, it's Frankenstein. —The New York Times Book Review
Children's Literature
Children may know of the monster Frankenstein, the giant creature made from the body parts of dead people and brought to life by a mad scientist. But they may not know that this horrible monster wanted more than anything to find his family and friends and receive their love. In this "Stepping Stone Classic," Mary Shelly's well-loved horror story has been adapted into modern language for beginning readers. The short, illustrated chapters will enchant young people with the tale of Victor Frankenstein, his quest for the secret of life, and the terrible monster that haunted him until his death. Readers will sympathize with and understand Frankenstein's remorse for bringing life from the dead when they learn of the pain and sadness he feels upon discovering that it is his own face that frightens innocent people. As always, this great story is filled with excitement. 2000, Random House, $3.99. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Jessica Becker

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812415667
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
07/01/1977
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
15 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

VOLUME I

LETTER 1

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. I arrived here yesterday; and my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare, and increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking.

I am already far north of London; and as I walk in the streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves, and fills me with delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my day dreams become more fervent and vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is for ever visible, its broad disk just skirting the horizon, and diffusing a perpetual splendour. There--for with your leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigators--there snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm sea, we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable globe. Its productions and features may be without example, as the phenomena of the heavenly bodies undoubtedly are in those undiscovered solitudes. What may not be expected in a country of eternal light? I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle; and may regulate a thousand celestial observations, that require only this voyage to render their seeming eccentricities consistent for ever. I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man. These are my enticements, and they are sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death, and to induce me to commence this laborious voyage with the joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat, with his holiday mates, on an expedition of discovery up his native river. But, supposing all these conjectures to be false, you cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on all mankind to the last generation, by discovering a passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected by an undertaking such as mine.

These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which I began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven; for nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose--a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. This expedition has been the favourite dream of my early years. I have read with ardour the accounts of the various voyages which have been made in the prospect of arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole. You may remember that a history of all the voyages made for purposes of discovery composed the whole of our good uncle Thomas's library. My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading. These volumes were my study day and night, and my familiarity with them increased that regret which I had felt, as a child, on learning that my father's dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me to embark in a seafaring life.

These visions faded when I perused, for the first time, those poets whose effusions, entranced my soul, and lifted it to heaven. I also became a poet, and for one year lived in a Paradise of my own creation; I imagined that I also might obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated. You are well acquainted with my failure, and how heavily I bore the disappointment. But just at that time I inherited the fortune of my cousin, and my thoughts were turned into the channel of their earlier bent.

Six years have passed since I resolved on my present undertaking. I can, even now, remember the hour from which I dedicated myself to this great enterprise. I commenced by inuring my body to hardship. I accompanied the whale-fishers on several expeditions to the North Sea; I voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep; I often worked harder than the common sailors during the day, and devoted my nights to the study of mathematics, the theory of medicine, and those branches of physical science from which a naval adventure might derive the greatest practical advantage. Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate in a Greenland whaler, and acquitted myself to admiration. I must own I felt a little proud, when my captain offered me the second dignity in the vessel and intreated me to remain with the greatest earnestness so valuable did he consider my services.

And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose? My life might have been passed in ease and luxury; but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path. Oh, that some encouraging voice would answer in the affirmative! My courage and my resolution is firm; but my hopes fluctuate, and my spirits are often depressed. I am about to proceed on a long and difficult voyage, the emergencies of which will demand all my fortitude: I am required not only to raise the spirits of others, but sometimes to sustain my own, when theirs are failing.

This is the most favourable period for travelling in Russia. They fly quickly over the snow in their sledges; the motion is pleasant, and, in my opinion, far more agreeable than that of an English stage-coach. The cold is not excessive, if you are wrapped in furs--a dress which I have already adopted; for there is a great difference between walking the deck and remaining seated motionless for hours, when no exercise prevents the blood from actually freezing in your veins. I have no ambition to lose my life on the post-road between St Petersburgh and Archangel.

I shall depart for the latter town in a fortnight or three weeks; and my intention is to hire a ship there, which can easily be done by paying the insurance for the owner, and to engage as many sailors as I think necessary among those who are accustomed to the whale-fishing. I do not intend to sail until the month of June; and when shall I return? Ah, dear sister, how can I answer this question? If I succeed, many, many months, perhaps years, will pass before you and I may meet. If I fail, you will see me again soon, or never.

Farewell, my dear, excellent Margaret. Heaven shower down blessings on you, and save me, that I may again and again testify my gratitude for all your love and kindness.

Your affectionate brother, R. Walton

From the Hardcover edition.

What People are saying about this

Muriel Spark
Out of that vampire-laden fug of gruesomeness known as the English Gothic Romance, only the forbidding acrid name of Frankenstein remains in general usage... Mary Shelley had courage, she was inspired. Frankenstein has entertained, delighted and harrowed generations of readers to this day.

Meet the Author

Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin on August 30, 1797 in London, the daughter of William Godwin--a radical philosopher and novelist, and Mary Wollstonecraft--a renowned feminist and the author of Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She eloped to France with Shelley in 1814, although they were not married until 1816, after the suicide of his first wife. She began work on Frankenstein in 1816 in Switzerland, while they were staying with Lord Byron, and it was published in 1818 to immediate acclaim. She died in London in 1851.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Frankenstein 4 out of 5 based on 4 ratings. 1038 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very misunderstood story that sparked a concept that took on a life of it's own. There is no scary castle, no hunchback, or villigars with pitch forks! It is a story not about a monster but about what could happen when man kind tries to play creator. You end up feeling sorry for the creature.
jenmaynard More than 1 year ago
Often considered the first science fiction novel, Mary Shelley had the creative spark for Frankenstein at the age of 18 and first published it as a 22-year-old. A story inspired by other gothic writings, contemporary scientific theories, and by tragedies in her own life (the death of her young child, a father who had disowned her), not to mention her poet husband Percy Shelley (who would drown the following year) and the philosophies of other poets in her young and influential circle of friends, this novel is a thought-provoking and ground-breaking work that has inspired countless stories about our desire to overcome death and our search for what it means to be human. It's not your modern horror thriller or what is generally depicted in film (instead of grunts, Frankenstein's real monster is eloquently tragic), the plot is often plodding, and some current readers might not find this a good read. But for those who enjoy a more philosophically centered gothic tale, Frankenstein is immortal.
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
My first thought on completing Frankenstein was this: I love this book! I really didn't know what to expect when I began reading this. We've all seen Frankenstein and his "monster" portrayed through numerous media outlets and I wasn't sure how any of these compared to the original story created by Mary Shelley. From page one I was drawn in and riveted by the narrative. I was hooked on Victor Frankenstein with his ambition and his creation who showed such strong emotions. Frankenstein's creation is an infantile being born into the body of a monster. We watch as this "monster" teaches himself writing, language, geography, history. He reads from Milton's Paradise Lost and from Plutarch's Lives. Learning brought such joy to him. It was so sad to see the "monster's" attitude toward man (and especially Frankenstein in particular) go from such love and delight to dark feelings and hate. Frankenstein and his race pushed the "monster" away and shunned him because he didn't look like them. They never gave him a chance to prove his worth among them. I believe it was society that created the "monster", and not soley Victor, but it was Victor who reaped the punishment. Frankenstein, the novel, brings up some thought provoking questions dealing with science and life and what it means to be human. You'll have to read the book yourself and draw your own conclusions.

"So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein-more, far more, will I achieve: treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This, in my opinion has to be the most thought provoking in all of literature. I can't think of a novel more worthy of dicussing in a book club or just in general. It's authenticity still rings true in the twenty first century. It is a scientific study of whether or not we should tamper with God's creation or life, itself. This is the story of man's creation resulting in monstrous consequenses. The topic of conversation is regarding whether or not the monster really is a monster. Meaning he is not born monstrous but becomes so because he is shunned and turned away because of his frightening physical appearance. Would the monster be able to live in society with man if man had just given him a fair opportunity? Perhaps, but should he be given that opportunity under unnatural circumstances? After all, he is not human and created by God but by man. The question of who is a worse monster, him or Victor? Victor by far, for allowing the catastrophes to worsen repeatedly without properly handling the situation. The monster was his ruination from the first which goes back to should it have been attempted in the first place? Was it successful?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this novel in my Science Fiction class in college. The novel was excellent with great written language, so beautiful. If you a big fan of Frankenstein movies, I would recommend that if you read this novel, don't expect the movies and the novel to be alike. The creature is so different than most of the Hollywood Frankensteins on film. The creature is somewhat a natural philosopher, but I won't give away too much! In other words, this novel is a must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Love this Edition!                                                                                        Note: This IS the 1831 edition. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was already one of my favourite novels of all time, however, I did not posses a quality edition of this classic. Walking in a Barnes & Noble one day, I stumbled across this lovely edition. It was cheap and looked durable so I purchased it. Taking it home I hoped it was the 1831 edition (my favourite of the two) and was pleased to see that it was. Overall the book has been wonderfully durable, holding up to numerous drops with only one hardly noticeable dent. I also regularly place the book in a backpack, and it holds up marvelously well. However, if you are going to bring it with you in a backpack, I suggest to first place it in a large Ziploc bag and then place it in your backpack. Before I learned this, I put it into a backpack and some of the paint from the title chipped off but after I started to use a plastic bag this no longer happens. If you want to get a very high quality/durable edition of one of the greatest novels ever written, get this one. It's cheap, yet EXTREMELY beautiful and surprisingly durable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book!!! I'm not a big fan of Science Fiction novels, but this one was great!!! When reading it, you don't feel like you are reading a Science fiction novel, you feel like you are reading a very sad, disturbing book about when humans should leave nature alone! You will never see Science and progress in it the same after you read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so well writen. Even though it starts slow, the middle to end parts are so well done it makes up for the sluggish start. Also, anyone who says the book isnt well writen probably doesnt have the attention span to finish the first coupple of chapters or was probably expecting frankenstein to fight dracula before the end of the book
The_Booker More than 1 year ago
Should I review a classic? Really, what's the point? This book is historic and mandatory reading for many high schools and a true insight into the European era it was written (1818). Language, thoughts, opinions, attitudes, social classes, locations - it's all there. It's like a time machine and that aspect of the book is fasinating. Then there's the classic elements... This is true gothic horror. It's not blood and guts and "shoot'em up" that is all too necessary to hold an audiences' attention in today's world. "Frankenstein" is psychological terror in the same vein as "what's hiding around the corner." We follow Victor's inner thoughts and paranoia as he sinks deeper and deeper into depression, fear and finally resolve that he must kill the monster he created or die trying. As someone who was an avid reader in high school - but not the mandatory assignments, (my personal classics are more modern works) - it is quite a few years after my graduation. I picked up "Frankenstein" because it is my son's mandatory summer reader. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. But again - reviewing a classic? Okay - some may find this a lame excuse, but I only rated it 4 out of 5 stars because of my upbringing in the modern "shoot'em up" world. The meanings were all there for me - man vs God, man vs woman, etc... But there were too many coincidences within the story that made me shake my head in disbelief. Europe is a continent and not someone's neighborhood where even then it would be difficult to find someone hiding from you. But if you can shut down your reasoning and throw disbelief to the howling wind, "Frankenstein" has the fear factor to keep you awake and wondering at night who or what could be lurking around your neighborhood. One final note: For any high schooler thinking about skipping this mandatory reading assignment and watching the movie instead, just plan on testing for a GED after you wise up. The Boris Karloff version sticks to the book about as closely as the Abbott and Costello film. In fact, check out Gene Wilder in "Young Frankenstein" and write your report on that one. At least your teacher will have a few laughs grading your paper!
Awesomeness1 More than 1 year ago
This book was deep and intellectually stimulated. While the writing was inconsistant, very descriptive in some parts and vague in others, you really had to pay attention or else miss something important. The plot and characters were intriguing, and I wish they were explored more. I never found it thrilling, but it was nice to read. I can see why its a classic and recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is not your typical Frankenstein that you see from Hollywood. It is a great book that you can sit down and read. You read something new in it everytime you read it. Great for conversation in the classroom and book clubs. This book has you think about alot of things that relate to life. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for summer reading. It is a very good book, however my biggest complaint is that Shelly has little emotion when describing the monster. I understand leaving some things to the imagination, however the creation of the monster was way too quick and there was no real emotional tie from Victor to the monster. That was written too fast and did not allow any time for emotional growth. Other than that, it is a great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frankenstein is the simple best book ever written (in my opinion). It relates to various sides of our lives, it is philosophical and exciting to read. It should be a must read for humanity because it teaches important lessons for life. It is very deep and emotional. Please do not think of any horror pictures that misinterpret the book, and thus mislead you.
Anonymous 11 days ago
Anonymous 7 months ago
Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There appears to be few people here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Alas! Victor, when falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure themselves of certain happiness?" "In a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a rational creature and was bound towards him to assure, as far as was in my power, his happiness and well-being." It has been over 40 years since I made my first foray into Shelley's masterwork. In those days, High School expectations colored by Boris Karloff and Hollywood made this task abhorant. This was one of the few movies to actually scare my father. And even to this budding feminist who embraced the author's history and familial connections, the idea of reading this horror afforded me no joy. Recently, after reading Antonia May's The Determined Heart, recently released historical fiction on the life of Mary Wollstone Godwin, and seeing a "docudrama" on the "birth" of science fiction, I decided to take on the task of clearing this TBR off my list, and I really am glad I did. The book is the story of Victor Frankenstein as he grows from young adult to maturity. A man of science and peculier understanding, his self studies, often scoffed at by family and teachers alike makes him always want to prove something. And he suceeds, even exceeds himself in the daemon who also becomes a cerebral mature offspring as we are told in the story ( of the monster)within the story ( of Victor Frankenstein) with the story of Walton's letters/journal to his sister. This is a fantastic study of its time and the fascination of natural philosophy for its creators. How it morphed into the bolt necked monster who comes to mind is itself another topic of exploration. Perhaps the daemon, as he is described in the book, actually is Victor Frankenstein himself rather than his creation. Both sides of the same coin perhaps? The monster is as brilliant as his creator, and as manipulative in its bargining not only with Frankenstein but itself. So, how can we translate the understanding of this to the groaning high school student harnessed with yet another old book to plow through? That I cannot answer. However I do highly recommend at least rediscovering this "not so horror" story as an adult as I shelve it my favorites group along with Homer, who also was rediscovered as an adult.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stop telling storirs!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Which books am I not locked out of here....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A black she cat with green eyes and long legs walks in and pads over to firesong looming over him
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The she padded in, her fur was the color of a settinf sun. "Is this Emberclan?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book a couple years ago for summer reading, and I was sure I would hate it. Much to my surprise, I absolutely loved it! It has become one of my favorites. I The begining is a bit tough to get through, but once you get past that it picks up. I would suggest having some sort of dictionary nearby, though, due to the number of words that may be unfamiliar.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi guys. I think Rainfall should be leader because he's been here the longest out of all of us, and Steamfeather deputy because she is a pretty da<_>mn good deputy. I mean, if you guys think so, and if you don't agree we can ro-sham-bo.
Kylie-MyBookishThoughts More than 1 year ago
Frankenstein has some preconceived ideas about it that aren't true. If Mary Shelley were alive today, I am sure she would have some choice words about the green, square headed, scarred figure modern day society calls "Frankenstein". All the misconceptions! If people would read this timeless novel they would know about the real life of Dr. Frankenstein-which is a mixture of intelligence, agony and sorrow. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was assigned in my AP Literature class and I tore through it. I like all the books we read in that class, from Austen to Knowles, and Frankenstein is another classic piece of literature to rave about. I'm not exactly sure how to go about reviewing this book. I could just review plot and characters, or I could talk about misconceptions and whatnot. There were so many things in this book that I could talk about. I think the part I want to start with Victor Frankenstein himself. I was like many people today, expecting Frankenstein to be the monster that I'd grown up thinking he was. When I was researching the book beforehand, I obviously figured out that that fact is false. This is one of my favorite classics. It was jam packed with events in which there was never a boring moment. The language was easy to understand as opposed to some works, making it far more enjoyable. The themes include human nature and sorrow. They were interesting topics to read about. Many books don't focus on the pain and agony of living a terrible life. Frankenstein despises his own creation. And the monster hates him back. Frankenstein's monster is angry at the doctor. He kills all of Victor's family members because of his loneliness and sadness. I felt terrible for Victor. His miseries were just awful, but the monster kept claiming that he was in worse pain! I don't believe that. I think that Victor had the worse life in the novel. He dies from his agony. After most of the events are through, he only goal in life is to destroy the monster. When he realizes that he can't do that because of Walton's crew, he has no reason to live, and passes away quietly. The book does come full circle in the end, with the monster regretting all that he has done. It took the death of Frankenstein for the remorse to show up. When the monster declares to Walton that he planned on killing himself, I felt relieved. I truly thought that he would go on ravishing cities in his anger. Nobody knew the monster like Frankenstein, and without him, I doubt anyone would be able to destroy him. We see a lot of humanity in the monster while he is watching the villagers. After he is chased from town, that is lost. He turns into the true devil that most see him as. The monster finally regains some of that humanity with the death of his creator. This classic novel really made me think. It stays with me days after I finished. I hope that if you have not read this book, that you do. There are many free versions available, so there is no excuse. I am incredibly glad this book was assigned to my class. It really changed my view on fictional classics. It's not all Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters. There are many more fantastic works out in the world. you just have to find them. Also on a side note: Some of the text in this book is outstanding. I am not going to list all my favorite quotes because there is way too much underlining in my copy.