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Written in 1818 when its author was only twenty years old, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has been hailed as both a landmark of Gothic horror fiction and the first modern science fiction story. This edition is one of Barnes & Noble's Collectible Editions classics. Each volume features authoritative texts by the world's greatest authors in an exquisitely designed bonded-leather binding, with distinctive stained edging, and an attract silk-ribbon bookmark. Decorative, durable, and collectible, these books offer hours of pleasure to readers young and old and are an indispensible cornerstone for any home library.
A monster assembled by a scientist from parts of dead bodies develops a mind of his own as he learns to loathe himself and hate his creator.
I am by birth a Genevese, and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic. My ancestors had been for many years counsellors and syndics, and my father had filled several public situations with honour and reputation. He was respected by all who knew him for his integrity and indefatigable attention to public business. He passed his younger days perpetually occupied by the affairs of his country; a variety of circumstances had prevented his marrying early, nor was it until the decline of life that he became a husband and the father of a family.
As the circumstances of his marriage illustrate his character, I cannot refrain from relating them. One of his most intimate friends was a merchant who, from a flourishing state, fell, through numerous mischances, into poverty. This man, whose name was Beaufort, was of a proud and unbending disposition and could not bear to live in poverty and oblivion in the same country where he had formerly been distinguished for his rank and magnificence. Having paid his debts, therefore, in the most honourable manner, he retreated with his daughter to the town of Lucerne, where he lived unknown and in wretchedness. My father loved Beaufort with the truest friendship and was deeply grieved by his retreat in these unfortunate circumstances. He bitterly deplored the false pride which led his friend to a conduct so little worthy of the affection that united them. He lost no time in endeavouring to seek him out, with the hope of persuading him to begin the world again through his credit and assistance.
Beaufort had taken effectual measures to conceal himself, and it was ten months before my father discovered his abode. Overjoyed at this discovery, he hastened to the house, which was situated in a mean street near the Reuss. But when he entered, misery and despair alone welcomed him. Beaufort had saved but a very small sum of money from the wreck of his fortunes, but it was sufficient to provide him with sustenance for some months, and in the meantime he hoped to procure some respectable employment in a merchant's house. The interval was, consequently, spent in inaction; his grief only became more deep and rankling when he had leisure for reflection, and at length it took so fast hold of his mind that at the end of three months he lay on a bed of sickness, incapable of any exertions.
His daughter attended him with the geatest tenderness, but she saw with despair that their little fund was rapidly decreasing and that there was no other prospect of support. But Caroline Beaufort possessed a mind of an uncommon mould, and her courage rose to support her in her adversity. She procured plain work; she plaited straw and by various means contrived to earn a pittance scarcely sufficient to support life.
Several months passed in this manner. Her father grew worse; her time was more entirely occupied in attending him; her means of subsistence decreased; and in the tenth month her father died in her arms, leaving her an orphan and a beggar. This last blow overcame her, and she knelt by Beaufort's coffin weeping bitterly, when my father entered the chamber. He came like a protecting spirit to the poor girl, who committed herself to his care; and after the interment of his friend he conducted her to Geneva and placed her under the protection of a relation. Two years after this event Caroline became his wife.
There was a considerable difference between the ages of my parents, but this circumstance seemed to unite them only closer in bonds of devoted affection. There was a sense of justice in my father's upright mind which rendered it necessary that he should approve highly to love strongly. Perhaps during former years he had suffered from the late-discovered unworthiness of one beloved and so was disposed to set a greater value on tried worth. There was a show of gratitude and worship in his attachment to my mother, differing wholly from the doting fondness of age, for it was inspired by reverence for her virtues and a desire to be the means of, in some degree, recompensing her for the sorrows she had endured, but which gave inexpressible grace to his behaviour to her. Everything was made to yield to her wishes and her convenience. He strove to shelter her, as a fair exotic is sheltered by the gardener, from every rougher wind and to surround her with all that could tend to excite pleasurable emotion in her soft and benevolent mind. Her health, and even the tranquillity of her hitherto constant spirit, had been shaken by what she had gone through. During the two years that had elapsed previous to their marriage my father had gradually relinquished all his public functions; and immediately after their union they sought the pleasant climate of Italy, and the change of scene and interest attendant on a tour through that land of wonders, as a restorative for her weakened frame.
From Italy they visited Germany and France. I, their eldest child, was born at Naples, and as an infant accompanied them in their rambles. I remained for several years their only child. Much as they were attached to each other, they seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from a very mine of love to bestow them upon me. My mother's tender caresses and my father's smile of benevolent pleasure while regarding me are my first recollections. I was their plaything and their idol, and something better—their child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them by heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery, according as they fulfilled their duties towards me. With this deep consciousness of what they owed towards the being to which they had given life, added to the active spirit of tenderness that animated both, it may be imagined that while during every hour of my infant life I received a lesson of patience, of charity, and of self-control, I was so guided by a silken cord that all seemed but one train of enjoyment to me.
For a long time I was their only care. My mother had much desired to have a daughter, but I continued their single offspring. When I was about five years old, while making an excursion beyond the frontiers of Italy, they passed a week on the shores of the Lake of Como. Their benevolent disposition often made them enter the cottages of the poor. This, to my mother, was more than a duty; it was a necessity, a passion—remembering what she had suffered, and how she had been relieved—for her to act in her turn the guardian angel to the afflicted. During one of their walks a poor cot in the foldings of a vale attracted their notice as being singularly disconsolate while the number of half-clothed children gathered about it spoke of penury in its worst shape. One day, when my father had gone by himself to Milan, my mother, accompanied by me, visited this abode. She found a peasant and his wife, hard working, bent down by care and labour, distributing a scanty meal to five hungry babes. Among these there was one which attracted my mother far above all the rest. She appeared of a different stock. The four others were dark-eyed, hardy little vagrants; this child was thin and very fair. Her hair was the brightest living gold, and despite the poverty of her clothing, seemed to set a crown of distinction on her head. Her brow was clear and ample, her blue eyes cloudless, and her lips and the moulding of her face so expressive of sensibility and sweetness that none could behold her without looking on her as of a distinct species, a being heaven-sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all her features.
The peasant woman, perceiving that my mother fixed eyes of wonder and admiration on this lovely girl, eagerly communicated her history. She was not her child, but the daughter of a Milanese nobleman. Her mother was a German and had died on giving her birth. The infant had been placed with these good people to nurse: they were better off then. They had not been long married, and their eldest child was but just born. The father of their charge was one of those Italians nursed in the memory of the antique glory of Italy—one among the schiavi ognor frementi, who exerted himself to obtain the liberty of his country. He became the victim of its weakness. Whether he had died or still lingered in the dungeons of Austria was not known. His property was confiscated; his child became an orphan and a beggar. She continued with her foster parents and bloomed in their rude abode, fairer than a garden rose among dark-leaved brambles.
When my father returned from Milan, he found playing with me in the hall of our villa a child fairer than pictured cherub—a creature who Seemed to shed radiance from her looks and whose form and motions were lighter than the chamois of the hills. The apparition was soon explained. With his permission my mother prevailed on her rustic guardians to yield their charge to her. They were fond of the sweet orphan. Her presence had seemed a blessing to them, but it would be unfair to her to keep her in poverty and want when Providence afforded her such powerful protection. They consulted their village priest, and the result was that Elizabeth Lavenza became the inmate of my parents' house—my more than sister—the beautiful and adored companion of all my occupations and my pleasures.
Everyone loved Elizabeth. The passionate and almost reverential attachment with which all regarded her became, while I shared it, my pride and my delight. On the evening previous to her being brought to my home, my mother had said playfully, "I have a pretty present for my Victor—tomorrow he shall have it." And when, on the morrow, she presented Elizabeth to me as her promised gift, I, with childish seriousness, interpreted her words literally and looked upon Elizabeth as mine—mine to protect, love, and cherish. All praises bestowed on her I received as made to a possession of my own. We called each other familiarly by the name of cousin. No word, no expression could body forth the kind of relation in which she stood to me—my more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only.
All new material in this edition copyright © 1988 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
Part I: Frankenstein: The Complete Text
• The Complete Text
• Print Document
• Visual Documents
• Part II: Frankenstein: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism
• A Psychoanalytic Perspective: David Collings, "The Monster and the Imaginary Monster: A Lacanian Reading of Frankenstein"
• A Marxist Perspective: Warren Montag, "'The Workshop of Filthy Creation': A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein"
• A Feminist Perspective: Johanna M. Smith, "'Cooped Up: Feminine Domesticity in Frankenstein"
• New A Gender Critic's Perspective: Frann Michel, "Lesbian Panic and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein"
• New A Cultural Critic's Perspective: Bouriana Zakharieva, "Frankenstein of the Nineties: The Composite Body"
• New Combining Perspectives: Fred Botting, "Reflections of Excess: Frankenstein, the French Revolution, and Monstrosity"
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.
23 out of 33 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 31, 2007
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.
21 out of 21 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 25, 2008
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.<BR/><BR/>"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."
10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
My Honors English class had to read this for school. While VERY easy to understand, admittedly, at least to me, this book was a pure travesty. I expected it to be MUCH better than it was, and just expected a whole different kind of reading experience in general. While a great concept for a story, I felt that Mary Shelley did not handle it all that well....in fact, instead of a horror story, it was more of a drama or a tragedy. Anyhow, the reasons that I hated this book are as follows: Mary Shelley repeated herself a lot, and kept using the same words, instead of using variety. The book itself was just plain boring, and no real excitement caught on until maybe, at BEST, the last few chapters. At times, the book lost direction, and once again, it was a chore to read. All in all, I found myself wanting to SLAP Frankenstein and The Creature as well, and just all in all, it made for a waste of a unit in school. I could go on in-DEPTH about why I hated this book, but then I would run out of room, and possibly be typing for years. Anyway, this may sound harsh, but to all those like me who were forced to read it: I sympathize with you. To those who bought it, excited: I pity you. And anyway, I am glad that I did not buy this book, and did not have to; I was excited to return the school's copy once we were finally done with it! Anyway, all in all, I STRONGLY disliked this book, and I am a big reader, so make of that what you will. My advice? DO NOT BUY this book BEFORE READING; either borrow it from the library or a friend and such, and THEN ONCE YOU ARE SURE of your opinion of it, THEN buy it if you love it........this book is definitely worthy of a test-read; THAT'S for sure! (Also, I do think that Mary Shelley IS worthy of fame and praise and all, but I just did not like her book/or her work....)I mean NO disrespect to her, though; that's also for sure!
Here though, are TWO books that we read for school for the SAME class that I absolutely LOVED (Night and Les Miserables, the abridged version), along with a few extra favorites of mine. ;P
9 out of 75 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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?
9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 13, 2009
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!
5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 12, 2014
Posted June 12, 2014
Please. Just listen to me. I don't want you guys to continue this conversation on a reviewing post. I want people to comment on the book. I want you guys to continue your conversation somewhere else. Please. I am trying to be nice.
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 24, 2009
I Also Recommend:
Let's be honest. This is a novella, not a novel. And if we removed some of the pages and pages of self-involved, over-dramatic, REPETITIVE personal introspection and emotional suffering (not to mention the pages and pages and pages of uninteresting scenery description), it would be a short story. Find an abridged version and read it. Or an audio version to be enjoyed in your car when you are trapped in traffic; this full-length novella would be better than listening to the other cars honking at each other...Maybe.
3 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 10, 2008
This is one of the few books I have read where the movie is 10 times better than the book. This book is so predictable and tame, as far as 'Classics' go, that you are left shaking your head saying, 'Now this is what they mean by hyperbole'.
3 out of 20 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2012
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!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 9, 2009
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.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 22, 2008
I was excited to read this book, I literally was jumping up and down when I bought it, but the excitement ends there. I understood that it being a classic that it would take me a few chapters to get into the older style of writing like with Earnest Hemmingway and Oscar Wilde, at least for me anyways. But it was like I could never get into Shelly¿s head nor did I want to. The book though short seemed to last forever, like a bad taste in your mouth that never goes away no matter how many times you brush your teeth. You don¿t get attached to any character for they all appear dry a one sided, and though the story is defiantly original you can¿t enjoy it for it¿s presented to you in such a lifeless manner. I had to force myself to finish this book just so I could say I¿ve read it. If you plan to read this book I recommend checking it out at the library and save your money. This is the one case where the movies are much better then the book.
2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2008
Started out dull.... ended worse. I do not recommend this book, to anyone. I had heard alot of good about this book to. In the end it was a complete dissapointment. Emotionless and lacking much needed drama, this book fell short of my not so high expectations.
2 out of 19 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 14, 2001
If you could imagine bad Poe and bad Dostoevsky glued together, with a little bad Hesse thrown in for good measure, you'd get Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein.' The storyline is as plodding and slow as the Swiss glaciers mentioned 9000 times in the overwritten prose. Character emotions are ridiculously strained and stretched. If you'd like some self-torture, 'Frankenstein' is just what the Doctor ordered.
2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 28, 2014
a simple retelling of the Mary Shelley story of Frankenstein... detailed black and white drawings
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Posted October 4, 2014
Posted December 23, 2014
Posted July 12, 2014
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.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.