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Monday, October 26, 2009

Frankenstein

Frankenstein: or,
The Modern Prometheus

by Mary Shelley
256 pages


*** About the Book ***

Do I really need to tell you about this one? Ok, ok, here goes. This is the classic tale of a man who creates a being from lifeless parts, gives it life, then is horrified by what he has created. The majority of the book details the conflict between the creator (Dr. Frankenstein) and his creation (aka "the monster").


*** Why I Read It ***

When I read Dracula a few months ago I unexpectedly found that I really enjoyed it, so I thought I'd give some other classic horror stories a try (nothing really scary mind you - I'm a chicken!). Then Fizzy Thoughts and I decided to host the Dueling Monsters Read-A-Long to make our classic horror reads more fun.

*** My Thoughts ***

I LOVED the beginning of the book: the letters from Walton to his sister as he explores the arctic regions, the sighting of an unknown but massive creature out on the ice, the rescue of Dr. Frankenstein (hereafter known as Dr. Frank) from an ice floe, Dr. Frank telling his story to Walton. The first few chapters were great! I love stories set in the polar regions; I didn't know this book would take place there, so that was a bonus. I also love epistolary works so again, bonus.

I hate to say it but I was disappointed with most of the rest of the book. Dr. Frank made some very poor decisions and I wanted to smack him more than once. Things happened in the story that made me want to wring the author's neck too. Add that to the abundance of overblown language and you get a book that was rather bothersome most of the time. (Dracula had flowery language as well, but once I got used to it I enjoyed that book. Here the language didn't seem to fit and I never could get used to the way the monster talked.)

On the whole, not a book I'd want to read again though I am glad that I did read it once.


*** For Those Who've Read It ***

Here are some of my thoughts from my read ... feel free to chime in with your opinions.
  • There are no details of how the creature was created - did this bother anyone else? I'm not looking for gory details but SOME details would be helpful.
  • I figured out from the start that Dr. Frank misunderstood his creation; did anyone else feel that way?
  • @fizzythoughts tweeted that she thought Dr. Frank was really whiny - do you agree? I thought he was rather unfeeling (and, frankly, stupid) but not necessarily whiny.
  • As Jill pointed out in her review, there's no Igor?! And also no "It's ALIVE!!!" Darn, I was looking forward to that.
  • My my, but that monster is wordy! Is it just me or was his intelligence a bit overdone?
  • The wedding night threat: OF COURSE he doesn't want to kill YOU Dr. Frank! DUH.
  • What the heck happened to Ernest? Did the author just forget about him? Did Dr. Frank?
  • And then there's the ending - what happens to Walton, I'd like to know?!

Come back on Halloween (10/31) to see the round up of reviews for the Dueling Monsters Read-A-Long.




31 comments:

Amanda said...

I loved reading your thoughts on this. I haven't read this book since high school but I remember I really loved the beginning too. Very cool being set in the arctic. But I remember thinking the monster was pretty wordy. Although I do remember feeling so sorry for the poor thing and yes, Dr. Frank was annoying. Dracula is my favorite of the two.

Amateur Reader said...

Since it fits in with what I'm doing this week at WE, I'll just ask a direct question:

Why does it matter, in terms of judging the novel, that Dr. Frankenstein made poor decisions or was annoying?

Literary Feline said...

I hope to read this one recently. I'm sorry it turned out to be disappointing. I read Dracula and loved it.

Heather J. said...

Amanda - I felt sorry for the monster as well, but then got mad at his viciousness. Still glad I read it though.

Amateur Reader - To answer your question, it doesn't matter at all in terms of judging a novel on it's literary merits. It does, however, matter when judging whether I enjoyed a novel or not. My review is simply my thoughts and opinions on the book and not a literary criticism by any means.

Literary Feline - I AM glad I read it, so I hope you'll give it a chance ... just don't expect too much from it. :)

Amateur Reader said...

Thanks, that's helpful.

Anna van Gelderen said...

As I wrote before my feelings about this book are somewhat mixed and I explained why in my review, so I won't go into any detail here.

Having read both Frank and Drac I don't think it's entirely fair to compare the two. It's mainly Hollywood that has coupled them, otherwise they don't really have anything in common - apart from a scary monster. They are nearly a century apart in time and Frank belongs to an era that "feels" much more different from ours than the late-Victorian period in which Drac was written. The overblown language that Shelley uses was not all that overblown when she wrote her book.
I do agree that Drac is a lot more enjoyable than Frank. Frank is interesting because of its originality (Mary Shelley more or less invented the sf novel here), for the ethical questions it raises and as a period piece. I will definitely not reread it, but I am glad I did finally got to know it. So thank you for organizing this readalong!

Anna said...

I've never read this book, but your review makes it sound really entertaining. Maybe I'll try it at some point.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Heather J. said...

Anna van Gelderen - Your review was very thorough and I enjoyed reading it. I think you're right re: Hollywood grouping these two titles together when they really shouldn't be. And I also agree that Shelley's language did fit with her time period so perhaps I was a bit harsh there ... but I couldn't help comparing it to Dracula. I probably SHOULD have compared it to The Castle of Otranto instead though! Glad you enjoyed the read-a-long. :)

Anna - It it definitely worth reading but it isn't a favorite of mine.

Robin of My Two Blessings said...

I finished reading it and was mixed. I'll be reviewing it soon. Suffice it say, I was a bit disappointed with Dr. Frank when he abandoned the monster. And yes, he was very whiny.

Valerie said...

I'm halfway through this book and keep finding myself skimming it. I'll have my own thoughts up soon, and come back when I do, but it probably won't be in an in-depth analysis because of the skimming problem. I'm glad I'm giving it a shot, though!

Anonymous said...

I adore this book. Shelley is a genius. How did you miss this one in high school & college?

It's one of the few books I've studied at all 3 levels!

OpheliaZepp

Heather J. said...

Robin - "a bit disappointed" is putting it mildly I think :)

Valerie - I can completely understand the desire to skim in this one!

OpehliaZepp - REALLY?! And you and I usually agree on books ... sorry to say but I didn't really like this one at all - maybe you can change my mind? ;)

softdrink said...

Overblown is the perfect description of the language. And while that may have been the style, it's what makes me struggle with so many of the "classics." I have a hard time focusing, and then I end up obsessing over things...such as the whininess, and Ernest (whose disappearance from the novel STILL bothers me).

This was fun. We'll have to consider doing it again next year and adding more monsters.

Heather J. said...

softdrink - yes, Ernest ... where DID he go?! And yes, let's definitely do this again next year w/ new monsters - I've already got a few ideas!

Suey said...

I just remember feeling so bad for the monster... and that was something I didn't expect given all the movie interpretations of him that were so comletely different.

Heather J. said...

Suey - Exactly! I just wanted to give him a big hug ... until he starting acting all vengeful and whatnot. :( But still, I felt bad for him.

Anonymous said...

Being disappointed that the book didn't follow the movie is pretty stupid. Reading any book with preconceived notions from motions pictures is a bad idea and faulting the author is irreconcilable.

There was no reason to include details on how the monster was created because that's not what the story was about, despite what motion pictures would have you believe. The monster being overly intelligent is understandably a point of contention but it is explained and it accomplishes what Shelley was attempting, to show the duality of monster and creator and a dark side of humanity that was most successfully articulated from someone outside of humanity.

I didn't find the wording to be bothersome throughout the novel and I rather enjoyed the story. As for the other characters, because it wasn't implicitly stated we can assume Ernest survived and had a relatively normal life. If he had suffered otherwise the monster or Victor would have described it as part of Victor's torment. The story wasn't about Walton and so there's no reason to find out what happened to him. That would be another book.

Heather J. said...

Anonymous - Wow, no sense of humor there?! Clearly you and I disagree on this book and while that is fine with me, it doesn't seem to be fine with you. Next time you comment though, I'd appreciate you not being anonymous - maybe then we could have a polite discussion about the topic at hand.

lilly said...

Lol! Heather, I think some anonymous person must be really ticked off by your reviews or maybe even your person? How ridiculous both comments (the one here and the one on The Odyssey) were! This one here especially sounds as if the books was written by him/herself in how they tell you what is important in this book and what isn't and how to feel about it.

Heather J. said...

Lilly - I know, right?! Gotta love anonymous. :)

Amanda said...

Wow! I agree with Lilly. I guess Anonymous doesn't realize that this is a personal opinion blog and not a critique on classic literature. Save that for Lit 101.

Heather J. said...

Amanda - Exactly. :)

Anonymous said...

Blatant observation is all that's needed, not Lit 101. I guess personal opinions aren't allowed in comments though if they dissent from the blogger's.

My posting a comment as anonymous doesn't change my points and it doesn't prevent a conversation either. A screen name is just as anonymous as no name at all.

Anna van Gelderen said...

Calling someone stupid because they have a different opinion is arrogant and rude. Doing it anonymously is cowardly.

Heather J. said...

Ok, this is getting ridiculous. Let's all just agree to disagree and leave it at that, mmkay?

Thanks all! :)

Valerie said...

I just put up my post about "Frankenstein" tonight. It was fun reading along, and looking forward to more opinions on the book!

Anonymous said...

Anna, I didn't call her stupid. I said it was stupid to be disappointed that a book written in 1818 didn't follow hollywood movie adaptations. Please read more carefully.

Explain how screenname101 is less anonymous that posting anonymously. I'm curious to know.

Amateur Reader said...

Explain how screenname101 is less anonymous that posting anonymously.

I can answer that! I'm an anonymous poster myself. No one knows who I am in real life. But my online identity is clear, and I have a reputation to maintain. I don't want "Amateur Reader" to be a jerk (see my polite - I hope! - question at the top of the thread).

You, A. Nonymous, seem to have no such constraint.

Anonymous said...

So the contention is the content of my posts, not my name. Like I said before, the name doesn't matter.

As for constraint, why should I water down my opinion for the sake of people who are too sensitive to handle it?

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

We did a horror symposium my Senior year in high school. We read this, Dracula, and one more book (I can't recall). I don't remember much about any of them, but it was a cool unit.

Carrie said...

I actually DID appreciate you giving a little overview of the book because I really do NOT know very much about it! But I'm glad you linked it up to the Classics Bookclub post so that I could find out about it!

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