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HRW Library: FRANKENSTEIN W/CONN

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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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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
"A masterpiece."  —Philip Pullman, author, His Dark Materials trilogy

"One of the most original and complete productions of the day."  —Percy Bysshe Shelley

Library Journal
This classic tale of horror and obsession features an appropriately overwrought reading by three talented British actors. Dr. Victor Frankenstein becomes enslaved to the idea of reanimating the dead, spending years in a manic frenzy of scientific study and creation. But once his monster lives, Frankenstein is so horrified by the ugliness of "the demoniacal corpse" that he abandons it, never imagining that they will meet again in murderous circumstances. Daniel Philpott does most of the narration, employing a Germanic accent when he voices the good doctor's dialog. Roger May does a superb job as Capt. Robert Walton. The best performance, though, is by Jonathan Oliver as the Daemon. He makes listeners feel pity and compassion for this creature who longs only for love and intellectual stimulation; instead, he cannot help but be the personification of evil in his own mania for vengeance. VERDICT The reading is well paced, and the narrators are not afraid to sound overwrought when appropriate.—B. Allison Gray, Santa Barbara P.L., Goleta Branch, CA
A.G. Stegnall
“This vivid adaptation has been acclaimed as perhaps the most accessible edition of Mary Shelley’s brilliant novel. Philip Dossick superbly renders its dialogue and action with unique clarity and elegance.”

— A.G. Stegnall
Sheppard Jacinto
“A quick read. A great read. What makes this series of classics so successful is the way they have been lovingly crafted. Near perfect, they honor their source material and capture the humor, the drama, the passion, the excitement, the sheer narrative exuberance, that have made each of these works timeless classics.”

--Sheppard Jacinto
Publisher's Weekly
"This is the definitive collectors edition and is a stunning and impressive uanabridged representation of a classic literary work."

- Publisher's Weekly
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: 9780030564727
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/1/1998
  • Series: HRW Library Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Mary Shelley was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.
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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 onlythis 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 Paperback edition.

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Table of Contents

Preface.

Monsters, Visionaries, and Mary Shelley.
Aesthetic Adventures.
Edmund Burke, “On the Sublime and the Beautiful,” from A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful.
Mary Wollstonecraft, from A Vindication of the Rights of Men.
William Gilpin, from Picturesque Travel.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere, 1798.
Mary Wollstonecraft, Jemima's Story from Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman.
Mary Godwin (Shelley), journal entries.
Percy Shelley, from Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude.
Mary Shelley, from History of a Six Weeks' Tour.
Percy Shelley, Mont Blanc.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, Canto 3 from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage III.
George Gordon, George Gordon, Lord Byron, A Fragment.
Richard Brinsley Peake, from Frankenstein, A Romantic Drama.
Mary Shelley, from a letter to E. J. Trelawny.
Dr. Benjamin Spock, “Enjoy Your Baby,” from Baby and Child Care.

Milton's Satan and Romantic Imaginations.
The King James Bible, Genesis, Chapters 2 and 3.
John Milton, from Paradise Lost.
William Godwin, from “An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, “Prometheus.”
John Keats, To One Who Has Been Long in City Pent.
John Keats, Marginalia to Paradise Lost.
William Hazlitt, “On Shakespeare and Milton,” from Lectures on the English Poets.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Preface Prometheus Unbound.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, from A Defence of Poetry.
Thomas De Quincey, “What Do We Mean by Literature?”

What the Reviews Said.
John Wilson Croker, Quarterly Review, January 1818.
Walter Scott, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, March 1818.
Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany, March 1818.
Belle Assemblàe, March 1818.
The British Critic, April 1818.
Gentleman's Magazine, April 1818.
Monthly Review, April 1818.
The Literary Panorama and National Register, June 1818.
Knight's Quarterly Magazine, August 1824.
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, March 1823.
London Morning Post, July 1823.
George Canning, remarks in the House of Commons, March 1824.
Knight's Quarterly Magazine, August 1824.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Anthenfum, November 1832.

Further Reading and Viewing.

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