The year 2018 will herald the 200th anniversary of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. The timing seems right for the story of a real monster. German-born immigrant Anton Probst arrived in New York in 1863. Within two hours of his arrival he enlisted in the Union Army. During the American Civil War, Probst bore witness to mankind's brutality. Afterwards, he became an inmate at the disreputable Blockley Almshouse in Philadelphia.
Frankenstein was first conceived by Shelley in 1816. Her monster was an embodiment of abandonment and loneliness, feelings Shelley shared. In despair, the creature resorted to violence. Fifty years after Frankenstein's conception, Anton Probst adopted characteristics of Shelley's monstrous creation. He became Philadelphia's first mass-murderer when he slaughtered members of the Christopher Dearing family.
After his death, Probst's story continued. The creature that he had become left a deep impression on the people of Philadelphia and New York. Researchers used Anton Probst's body to show the effects of galvanization, the same means by which Frankenstein's monster stirred to life. Incredibly, similarities surface between Shelley and her circle, her monster, and events that transpired when the blood of innocents was shed an ocean away. One defining difference is present. Unlike Shelley's creature, the story of America's monster is very real.
|Publisher:||Russell D. Earnest Associates|
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About the Author
Table of Contents
I: I Was Benevolent
II: Beloved Cottagers
III: The Dissecting Room and the Slaughterhouse
IV: The Vices of Mankind
V: April 7
VI: The Cottagers did not Appear
VII: Agony and Terror
VIII: Are You French?
IX: Barred Windows
X: Horrible Pilgrimage
XI: Mother's Tender Caresses
XII: I am Solitary and Abhorred
XIII: The Trial Began
XIV: I Knew the Destroyer of My Family
XV: My Crimes are Consummated
XVII: Learn From Me
XVIII: On My Lips
XIX: Threshold of Real Knowledge
XX: Men of Genius
XXI: Perished on the Scaffold
XXII: Infusing Life into an Inanimate Body
XXIII: Bound Close by the Ties of Mutual Misfortune
XXIV: Mine Has Been a Tale of Horrors
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Tracy Young for Readers' Favorite Anton Probst was a German immigrant who traveled to America to find a better life. Along with many others, he began his new life as a soldier and spent three years fighting in the Civil War. Once the conflict was over, he was embroiled in the underbelly of this relatively new country and became one more statistic fighting to survive. The Dearing family gave him a taste of normality and offered him gainful employment and a place to call home. How did Anton Probst repay them? In the most heinous way possible. Fifty years earlier, Mary Shelley had created a fictional monster that is still an iconic figure in literature, but how does Frankenstein’s monster bear any resemblance to Probst? Patricia Earnest Suter tells us how in The Face of a Monster: America's Frankenstein. This is a superbly researched book that not only explores the history of Probst and the circumstances that lead him to commit such a violent crime, but also the background of Mary Shelley and her fictional monster. Loss and death played a major part in Mary’s life and Patricia Earnest Suter explains how that led to the monster's character. Probst is a monster that shocked Philadelphia, yet it is his name that is remembered rather than the victims' names. Does that mean society is more interested in the horrors of the human mind? There is a wealth of information in this book and the author writes with passion. The Face of a Monster: America's Frankenstein is a fascinating read and incredibly informative.
I finally read Mary Shelley’s book, “Frankenstein”, about 5 years ago and I very much enjoyed it, far more than the movies. So, I was definitely interested to reading Patricia Earnest Suter’s book, thinking it was another novel. I was very happily surprised to realize my estimate was wrong, her book is a comparison of the nameless monster created by Dr. Frankenstein and an American mass murderer in Philadelphia. Even though the subject matter is very grisly, the brutal death of a family, the writing is superb. Patricia has done a phenomenal amount of research and has woven a wonderful mix of reality and fiction, drawing staggering parallels between the two. I love knowing details and backstory behind significant events, and Patricia delivers a huge portion for all aspects of the major characters and driving forces. Patricia kept my attention the entire time, she moved the narrative along at a good pace and the focus never waned. There is also an extensive section of notes and source material, for those who wish to really dig in. I award 4.8 stars to The Face of a Monster: America’s Frankenstein! The score would have been higher except for the handful of spelling issues I found.