Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

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Overview

Frankenstein is a masterpiece of nineteenth-century Gothicism and the prototype of the twentieth-century science-fiction novel.

It was conceived in the Swiss Alps in mid-June 1816 after a conversation about bringing corpses to life provoked a nightmare, and was written over the next eleven months in largely morbid circumstances. Death and the terrors of childbirth--as much as Romanticism, a burgeoning awareness of unconscious drives, and contemporary ideas of atheism, the ...

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Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus

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Overview

Frankenstein is a masterpiece of nineteenth-century Gothicism and the prototype of the twentieth-century science-fiction novel.

It was conceived in the Swiss Alps in mid-June 1816 after a conversation about bringing corpses to life provoked a nightmare, and was written over the next eleven months in largely morbid circumstances. Death and the terrors of childbirth--as much as Romanticism, a burgeoning awareness of unconscious drives, and contemporary ideas of atheism, the collapse of the social contract, and the corrupting influence of society on human nature--inform this story of a man (or monster) built by Dr. Victor Frankenstein and brought to life by electricity.

The monster's culpability for various horrific acts, his powerlessness in the face of his complete ostracism from society, and Dr. Frankenstein's lies, abdication of responsibility, and the pain he inflicts on his creation raised chilling questions that made the novel an immediate bestseller.

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.

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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
From the Publisher
"Simon Vance's regal English accent provides the perfect tone for this early-nineteenth-century moral exploration of mankind's use of knowledge." —-AudioFile
From Barnes & Noble
Shelley's classic hints in part at the possible dangers inherent in the pursuit of pure science; it also portrays the injustice of a society which persecutes outcasts such as the "Monster." Disturbing and profoundly moving, Frankenstein has become part of our own mythology.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433215650
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797–1838) was the author of the masterpiece Frankenstein, as well as a number of other works, including Valperga, The Last Man, and Faulkner.

Simon Vance has recorded over four hundred audiobooks and has earned over twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards, including for his narration of Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini. He is also the recipient of five coveted Audie Awards, including one for The King's Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi, and he was named an AudioFile Best Voice of 2009.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


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.

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Table of Contents

About the Series
  About This Volume
    
PART I: FRANKENSTEIN: THE COMPLETE TEXT
  Introduction: Biographical and Historical Contexts
  The Complete Text [The 1831 Text]
    
PART II: FRANKENSTEIN: A CASE STUDY IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM
  A Critical History of Frankenstein
  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 Critical Perspectives:
    Fred Botting, "Reflections of Excess: Frankenstein, the French Revolution, and Monstrosity"
    
  Glossary of Critical and Theoretical Terms
  About the Contributors
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 81 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(30)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(19)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(15)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 81 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2011

    Bad copy

    This copy cuts off the text at the beginning of the book.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    Unreadable

    Sections are unreadable, garbled text.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    extremely accurate, but lacking introduction

    I bought is book for a university class, but was disappointed that it did not have the introduction that we spent a solid day discussing. otherwise, the book is great.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2011

    Best copy on B&N and great story

    I wanted to get this for my nook and this turned out to be the best copy on here I could find and at a great price.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 5, 2011

    a great read but with typos

    frankenstein is one of the best classics ever! this free version was pretty except that it hadmany typos, but you can still get thr full meaning of the story, this version comes with another story called the ghost seeker

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2013

    Garbled text

    I don't recommend this version

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    Best one yet

    If you are looking to read Frankenstein for free on your Nook, this is the one to get. While there are a few random characters in the text, this version is by far the easiest to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    Ashley

    Starts to unhutton ur shirt .kisdes u.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    Emma

    Who r u godess?

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    Ashley to promethous

    I love u

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

    Ashley

    Yes master we have a problem

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    Prometheus

    Picks u up and throws u back to rue result one.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    Classic

    Tragic and beautiful

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

    Before the rewrite.

    This edition is very close to the 1818 original. Mary Shelley gave Victor Frankenstein a break in the 1831 rewrite. In this version Victor, and by implication you and me, is clearly responsible for his actions. The failure of the 1831 edition was to allow Victor off the hook. History has been gentle on Victor Frankenstein. Read this book and decide who is the monster.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2014

    Exceed fawn

    What do ya want

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2014

    I do not compute.

    Error. Error.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2012

    Piece of crap

    I read the first chapter, I hooked my nook

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    To Prometheus

    You want to kill me for telling you you misspelled your name? Sheesh... *disappears*

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Ashley

    Yes

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    Ashley

    U dint love me .stattd to crym

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 81 Customer Reviews

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