Review: Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein: Or the Modern PrometheusFrankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finally read Frankenstein. Coupled with Dracula a few years ago, I’ve now read both famous monster books. Even moreso than with Dracula, the book was a far cry from the popular conception of Frankenstein.

Things that are completely different:
-the monster is not created in a castle in a town of villagers -> it’s done in a college dorm
-therefore no pitchforks and no Frankenstein defending his monster -> he regrets bringing him to life immediately after doing so
-there is no Igor -> Frankenstein keeps the secret of the monster to himself for the entire book
-the monster doesn’t roar or speak in caveman-speak -> he speaks more eloquently than anyone you know today

And probably some other things I forgot.

You know how you hear that books are a product of their times? That’s why Holden Caufield just seems like a spoiled brat or why Huck Finn’s always using the n-word. Well, boy-howdy is Frankenstein a product of its time.

Ways in which it’s super Victorian:
-the language among fellows rings to my modern ears as if Shelley is writing Yaoi fiction.
-Frankenstein gets super sick every time he’s stress -to the point where he spends 3 or 4 chunks of the book unconscious
-Frankenstein creates the monster and then perceives him to be such a hideous monstrosity that he just wishes for him to go away
-Seriously, though – even as the monster murders people and people die being accused of murders the monster committed, Frankenstein just keeps wishing the monster will go away and leave him alone
-Everyone’s cool and encouraging about Frankenstein marrying his cousin who he grew up with as if she were his sister
-Everyone’s always writing letters to each other – in fact, the entire book is technically a letter from someone (not-Frankenstein) to his sister

Should you read it? I don’t know. There are many, including GR friends who’s literary opinions I respect who couldn’t get through the book. It’s paced VERY differently from what you’re expecting both because of how big Frankenstein is in pop culture and because of how Victorian the book is. It IS the first modern science fiction book, which is neat. And it was written by a woman — an untested author at that — which is also neat. I enjoyed it, but I’m not insisting that everyone should read it. So, there you go, a bit lukewarm, but that’s the book in a nutshell. (And I’m glad I read it as part of the Sword and Laser’s January pick)

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