Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

elokuu 26, 2021, 5:32 am

There isn't a thread specifically for the novel, so I've made one.

elokuu 26, 2021, 5:44 am

I've been—extremely slowly—reading my way through the list of 'key works' in Punter & Byron's The Gothic. This may be controversial, but, looking at the list, it strikes me that this is the earliest Gothic novel that breaks the bounds of the genre to become recognised in the wider world as a 'great' novel, or 'classic' novel, or what you will. So it's definitely important enough to have its own thread.

elokuu 26, 2021, 6:07 am

I read Frankenstein five years ago and really enjoyed it!

Incidentally I'm also aiming to read through a list of 10 "key" Gothic works:
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole -- read
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe -- still reading
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Dracula by Bram Stroker
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

So up next on my list will be Frankenstein once again.

elokuu 27, 2021, 4:26 am

>3 Majel-Susan:

Weirdest thing, I clearly remember replying to your post last night, but there's nothing here now. Must have forgotten to press the button—probably had several tabs open. And now I can't remember what I said. I remember I ended by looking forward to your comments on your Frankenstein reading.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 28, 2021, 4:19 pm

>1 alaudacorax: Thank you very much for starting this thread. I've been fascinated with this book, since high school and university. I've seen where there are readers who put Frankenstein not only in Gothic literature, but also under Science Fiction/Speculative Fiction, and Philosophy.

for undergraduate university, I wrote a paper about conversations between , "creator and created", using the following:

Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound (Ancient Greek: Προμηθεὺς Δεσμώτης, Promētheús Desmṓtēs)
Paradise Lost
Blade Runner (the Directors Cut)

My Prof. gave me a bit of a hard time, though he loved my 30+ page paper, saying it would make a reasonable dissertation, but only if I eliminated two of the categories above....or even narrowed it to one.

So I'm going to take my time re-reading the Frankenstein, Oxford World's Classics, 1818 Text, and this time I'm going to do something I've not done since university and write notes, questions, etc. I might ask you all if I run across some uses of language that might seem foreign to me, or expressions I'm unfamiliar with.

But let's have a lot of fun with this book, too, since it's seeped so much into our popular culture (Young Frankenstein anyone ?).

Muokkaaja: elokuu 28, 2021, 2:53 pm

>3 Majel-Susan: This is a great list, thank you. I've read most on it, but not The Castle of Otranto, The Mysteries of Udolpho, or The Phantom of the Opera.

One of my favorites on your list is The Picture of Dorian Gray, and I've also great enjoyed watching various cinematic versions of it, too, or films influenced by it.

elokuu 28, 2021, 3:09 pm

>3 Majel-Susan: & >6 benbrainard8:
Melmoth the Wanderer should be on that list; it is the work that gave Wilde the plot for Dorian Gray.

elokuu 28, 2021, 3:10 pm

>5 benbrainard8: Yes, Frankenstein is regarded as the first Science Fiction novel.

elokuu 29, 2021, 12:46 pm

Hi all! I got the books out, I hope to start reading in the evening.

elokuu 29, 2021, 1:21 pm

I'm still reading The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne. I know it's short but I got sidetracked. If I do this, I'll be reading the 1831 text, i.e. finally getting to read that fancy Folio Society edition I bought years ago.

However, in my other account on here I started cataloguing all the television documentaries I've recorded off-air over the years, and before long I'll reach some specifically talking about Frankenstein. So if there are any insights to be had I'll share them. Maybe one or two wonky screenshots too - remember, it's just an iPhone 5 camera pointing at an old TV screen, don't expect too much :)

elokuu 29, 2021, 9:09 pm

I started on the Intro in the Broadview edition of the 1818 text and was interested to hear that Shelley removed some of the scientific bits in the later edition. This cements my decision to go with the earlier text (first anyway, although the idea of reading both versions may be too ambitious for me currently).

So I think I'll skip the rest of the Intro (another 40 pages) and leave it for later, and go straight to the text now.

elokuu 30, 2021, 12:58 am

I've just read the near 60 page Introduction and notes by Marilyn Butler, King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at King's College, Cambridge., for the Frankenstein, Oxford World's Classics, 1818 Text. It has a lot of information, including about Mary Shelley's life that I was completely unaware of.

Online notes for this edition, include: "Marilyn Butler's groundbreaking reading of Frankenstein in 1994.2 As Butler showed, Shelley was interested in William Lawrence and John Abernethy's debates in the Royal College of Surgeons about the nature of life; Shelley uses the political and scientific terms of that disagreement to shape Frankenstein and her 1831 revisions of it. "

I'll begin reading the story this coming weekend. Looking forward to it.

elokuu 30, 2021, 2:42 am

>3 Majel-Susan: From that list I've read Otranto, Frankenstein, and House of Usher. I know something of Jane Eyre from a movie mom was watching while I was in the room. Don't really plan on reading it as it sounds miserable. I tried Phantom but I guess the translation I had was crummy or something as I ultimately abandoned the book.

I'm hoping to get my hands on a copy of the Frankenstein graphic novel, illustrated by Bernie Wrightson. Not sure what edition it is or if it's the full text, but it looks cool and I have something of a Mary Shelley collection going, with a bio (of sorts) and the Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein book which I still love.

Is anyone familiar with The New Annotated Frankenstein? (less new perhaps, as it's 2017). The problem with online shopping and not getting to see this stuff in real life. I've seen the Chiltern Classics version but as pretty as the cover is, the print is annoyingly tiny.

elokuu 30, 2021, 3:00 am

>5 benbrainard8: That sounds like a fun paper! We studied Frankenstein in my Literature and Pop Culture course I took in college (and Blade Runner in Dystopian Lit). I wrote a paper on Adam from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and on Edward Scissor-Hands, both figures from the Frankenstein section of the course.

elokuu 30, 2021, 8:48 am

>13 WeeTurtle:

I think The Phantom of the Opera is recognised as being pulpier than the other works in Majel-Susan's list but it doesn't help that older translations into English were apparently quite slapdash.

I used to have the Bernie Wrightson Frankenstein and I wish I knew what has happened to it! It's not a graphic novel but the full text (1831 version no doubt) copiously illustrated with very intricate pen-and-ink illustrations. It's maybe not the easiest edition to read, being graphic-novel sized to show off the illustrations to advantage, there is a lot of text on the non-illustrated pages.

I don't own the Annotated Frankenstein but I do have the Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and the first Lovecraft edition that Leslie S. Klinger has done. you shouldn't have an issue with the point size of the text as the other editions have. There are a couple of photos of the interior pages of the Klinger annotated Dracula in the editions of "Dracula" thread.

elokuu 30, 2021, 9:27 am

>6 benbrainard8: You're welcome! ^^
I had read many of the books on my list before as well, except The Castle of Otranto, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and (*gasp*) The Fall of the House of Usher.

I know much of The Picture of Dorian Gray's plot already from my sister, but it's been on my TBR list for a long time now.

The Phantom of the Opera is absolutely marvellous! I highly recommend it!

>7 pgmcc: Thanks, I must look it up!

elokuu 30, 2021, 9:33 am

>13 WeeTurtle: Well, no book can suit everyone, BUT don't put Jane Eyre away because of an adaptation! Even the best adaptations still have to work around time constraints, and to be fair, Jane Eyre is not the shortest novel; even so, it is very engaging. I can see how it might be seen as a miserable story, although I never felt that way about it in particular, perhaps due to the moral strength that sustains Jane Eyre through her adversity. It is to me, more a story of triumph than misery. If you want to avoid a really miserable story, that will be Wuthering Heights, whose levels of misery, however many other qualities the novel retains to stay on my list of favourites and re-reads, are quite unforgivable in my opinion.

elokuu 30, 2021, 11:35 am

(Happy birthday, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley!)

elokuu 30, 2021, 12:48 pm

>18 LolaWalser:

Yes indeed. Happy birthday!

elokuu 31, 2021, 3:42 am

>18 LolaWalser:, >19 housefulofpaper:

How did I come to miss that with all the reading I've been doing over the last week or so? No doubt the lady will forgive me ...

elokuu 31, 2021, 3:42 am

>18 LolaWalser:, >19 housefulofpaper:

How did I come to miss that with all the reading I've been doing over the last week or so? No doubt the lady will forgive me ...

elokuu 31, 2021, 12:21 pm

One chapter in. (So. Much. Preamble.) Victor Frankenstein has been picked up somewhere close to the North Pole by a randomly passing ship belonging to one Robert Walton, and he starts to tell the tale. The first chapter lays out young Victor's unorthodox educational profile. I find it interesting for the clear dichotomy drawn between modern science--rational, experimental--and the mystick alchemy of ye olde times, into whose thrall Victor falls as a boy.

Victor is aware of the modern science, and at fifteen even attempts to study it--but he is already "contaminated" by the unscientific ideas such as the search for phlogiston and the elixir of life.

He is not a real scientist but the "mad scientist" of future B-movies.

syyskuu 1, 2021, 2:27 am

>22 LolaWalser: I never really got the impression that he wasn't a real scientist, but that he was chasing ideas no one had taken the time to inform him were exposed or disproven. "Exploded" I think was the term used when he laments that he didn't know better later on.

I personally expected to feel more sympathy for the monster than I did, and less for the doctor, but my thoughts were that they both deserved some of what happened to them.

syyskuu 1, 2021, 4:55 am

>22 LolaWalser: - 'Preamble'

But is Shelley somehow connecting or parallelling Walton's possibly reckless endeavour with Frankenstein's venture? And, if so, why? Don't know, myself; still thinking about it.

syyskuu 1, 2021, 5:00 am

>24 alaudacorax:

Can't remember offhand, but I think the suggestion comes from Marilyn Butler (>12 benbrainard8:).

syyskuu 1, 2021, 6:06 am

>24 alaudacorax: This was what I thought, since both men are attempting something that might seem outrageous at the time. IIRC, when some of the crew start to complain (maybe threaten mutiny?) it's Frankenstein who chastises them for being cowards (or something similar). He even mentions that someone else might succeed in the same experiment that he (Frankenstein) tried, even though he failed.

On a more structural note though, an arctic expedition does provide a convenient reason for someone be out there and to find a lone man an couple of sled dogs on an ice flow, which begs the question, how did he get there?

syyskuu 2, 2021, 12:27 pm

>23 WeeTurtle:, >24 alaudacorax:

More is happening, but no, I don't think Frankenstein has the habitus of a scientist. He's drawn to a specific power fantasy, not science--Shelley literally writes so.

Two more chapters. Skipping over the whole incestuous domestic scene. Victor is sent to Ingolstadt for some real schooling. The first professor he talks to can't believe his ears when the youth comes out with Paracelsus etc. and tells him he'll have to start all over. Damn right he has! A second, chemistry prof, is kinder about the alchemical crap (also better looking than the other fellow--interesting and true how people's physiognomies may lead our would-be "rational" choices) and Victor becomes his student. Soon he's a master of chemistry. In a progression that is still observed in training molecular biologists, from chemistry his attention is attracted to physiology. He discovers the "secret" of life, i.e. how to animate the inanimate.

So far so good and more or less fundable by the NIH. But instead of testing the principle and going for something modest at first, like a rat or rabbit, Victor falls into his "old habits" and immediately thinks in terms of creating progeny (his "child") and not a mere child-sized child but an eye-catching 8-foot giant.

I was amused by how much Shelley's descriptions fit what would become the standard in the movies of this tradition--Victor's crazed haunting of the graveyards and charnel houses, manic pallor, his bulging eyes --"my eyeballs were starting from their sockets in attending to the details of my employment."

Quotables (here occurs the "exploded" bit WeeTurtle):

Professor Krempe: "...every instant you have wasted on those books is utterly and entirely lost. You have burdened your memory with exploded systems, and useless names. Good God! in what desert have you lived, where no one was kind enough to inform you that these fancies, which you have so greedily imbibed, are a thousand years old, and as musty as they are ancient? I little expected in this enlightened and scientific age to find a disciple of Albertus Magnus and Paracelsus. My dear Sir, you must begin your studies entirely anew."

The following bit is to me the lynchpin of Frankenstein's outlook and significant for the whole:

"...I had a contempt for the uses of modern natural philosophy. It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and power; such views, although futile, were grand: but now the scene was changed. The ambition of the inquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest in science was chiefly founded. I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth."

Real science is actually antithetical to what he is trying to achieve! To me this is where his persona fully comes through as a figure of fantasy ("mad scientist"). Of course, it's a successful fantasy because he will succeed in his project. Nevertheless, it remains not only outside science but is opposed to science in its very essence, in its philosophy.

syyskuu 3, 2021, 12:43 am

>27 LolaWalser: I'm not sure where the contradiction comes in. Yes, that's his outlook, and it's also I think why he is admired by the ship captain, as he also has a grand plan in mind. Is there a significant difference between Frankenstein and the person who becomes a scientist to cure cancer, aside from maybe scope?

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 3, 2021, 5:49 am

I've just deleted most of a post that got rather too tangential. I still haven't got round to reading a good book on the Romantics and, basically, I was pondering on how much, if any, influence M S's Frankenstein and Byron's Manfred may have had on each other. If Manfred was inspired by Frankenstein the question is irrelevant to this thread, of course. I'd be fascinated to hear there was some 'cross-pollination', though.

syyskuu 3, 2021, 5:29 am

And is it me or are there hints of both Frankenstein and Manfred in Andrew's post at

syyskuu 3, 2021, 5:52 am

>29 alaudacorax: - I still haven't got round to reading a good book on the Romantics ...

Just been reading our 'Manfred' thread ... I find I've been saying that for at least ten years ...

syyskuu 3, 2021, 12:34 pm

>28 WeeTurtle:

Well, I quoted Shelley. SHE plainly, deliberately and considerately, set Victor apart from the exponents of modern science of her (and still our own) times. He is different--in his education, in his motivation, in his approach to science, despising exactly what makes it science, and dreaming his power-tripping alchemical dreams.

Quoting again:

"I had a contempt for the uses of modern natural philosophy. It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and power; such views, although futile, were grand: but now the scene was changed. The ambition of the inquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest in science was chiefly founded. I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth."

I don't know how to make it plainer than her own words and what I already said, sorry. It's fascinating though--a much more sophisticated understanding of philosophy of science, a more modern text so far, than I was lead to expect--I suppose I overestimate the 200 years that separate us.

>29 alaudacorax:

Given Shelley's evident interest in science (the introduction brought up her reading of Humphry Davy and Erasmus Darwin) I think something on Naturphilosophie may be especially pertinent. I wonder if she read Goethe? Seems it would be hard to spend any time in German-speaking countries without encountering German philosophy.

syyskuu 3, 2021, 12:51 pm

This is just a moan, but I have to--on page 76 of my Broadview edition, reprinted in 2005, there is a dreaded "pouring" over the microscope and I just... I know standards have gone to hell and no-one wants to pay proofreaders but ffs, in a book meant for students!

syyskuu 3, 2021, 7:24 pm

>32 LolaWalser:

Here's a quote from Richard Holmes' 1974 biography of Percy Shelley, Shelley: the Pursuit:
"The description of Dr Frankenstein's education developing from alchemical and magical interests in authors such s Albertus Magnus and Paracelsus, to a more strictly scientific concentration on 'natural philosophy', galvanism and anatomy is deliberately intended to parallel {Percy} Shelley's own story of his intellectual development from romance to philosophy, as told for example in his introductory letters to Godwin of 1812."

The idea that Percy is is some sense Victor Frankenstein is interesting, of course. Sadly it's been so long since I read the book that I can't remember how much stress Richard Holmes does or doesn't put on the idea. More generally, from this brief extract it seems that he buys into the image of Percy as a Romantic, Promethean figure (certainly, that's broadly the impression of him I remember coming away with after finishing the book).

It sounds as if Holmes had missed Mary Shelley's subverting of the idea of the Promethean genius as per >32 LolaWalser:.

syyskuu 4, 2021, 1:35 am

>34 housefulofpaper: - The idea that Percy is is some sense Victor Frankenstein ...

I've been coming round to the idea that William Godwin is Victor Frankenstein.Godwin is said (Marilyn Butler again) to have been a great father intellectually but seriously lacking emotionally; Mary seems to have been intellectually capable of being quite clear-sighted about this; and, by this time, there was a certain amount of friction between him, on the one side, and Percy and Mary; and I hold him a grudge for inflicting Caleb Williams on me. No reason why VF couldn't have been both, of course ...

syyskuu 4, 2021, 1:59 am

>35 alaudacorax:

And now I've written that, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if the 'monster' (I dislike that word) is Mary.

syyskuu 4, 2021, 3:24 am

>36 alaudacorax: I find it interesting that you are willing to see the assembled being as having been based on one person but that you perceive VF as having been constructed from multiple people.


syyskuu 4, 2021, 3:45 pm

>34 housefulofpaper:

It occurs to me again, as it did when I was reading Faxneld's Satanic feminism, that it would be very interesting to learn more about Percy Shelley.

Am I the only one reading this for the first time? Two more chapters.

The plot is a bit jerky, things which I'd think deserve more treatment are dismissed rather abruptly, while humdrum business gets exposure in boring letters.

Victor regrets his project as soon as his creature comes to life. While he lovingly collected features individually beautiful, the ensemble is beyond hideous. Without pausing to check anything else about his "child", like if it has a consciousness, to feed it, or take any precautions to restrain it, he simply flees and roams the streets. Opportunely too, as his best bud Henry Clerval happens to alight from a coach just then. Victor takes him to his lodgings, apprehensive about the monster, but when they get there the place is empty, to Victor's huge relief (out of sight, out of mind? What a prat.) Then he collapses into a lengthy nervous illness and Henry takes care of him.

The catastrophe of his would-be triumph (as he sees it) thoroughly disgusts Victor of even the sight of laboratory equipment. He takes a "violent antipathy" to the mere mention of natural philosophy and seeks refuge in mystical Oriental poetry.


OK, here I gotta mention something that occurred to me as soon as Henry Clerval had been mentioned (way before), but seemed way too slight a thing to mention on its own... I wondered if Shelley had read Sade? At that point it was simply for a most superficial reason, that "Clerval" reminded me of the name of one of Sade's great villainesses, Clairwil. You can see why I didn't bother to bring it up--it's barely a resemblance, doesn't need to mean anything. But then after these two chapters... Victor's cousin (and bride-to-be) Elizabeth writes to him, at great length and yet for no good reason currently discernible, about the "trials" of one Justine, innocent pure and virtuous servant girl... I have no idea if this means anything, but it just seems like it's getting to be a thing. Which, if so, wow! The sub-text thickens...

I mean, I guess it could be, beside mere coincidence, a simple little literary flirt, but I must say Mary Shelley doesn't seem to me to have been so very simple...

syyskuu 4, 2021, 3:48 pm

>35 alaudacorax:

Heh, I just acquired Caleb Williams. Broody hunk on the cover...

syyskuu 4, 2021, 4:23 pm

Ahhhhhh, I must note that I DID come across the Shelley - Sade question before--in Mario Praz's The romantic agony (a book whose discussion of Sade is severely lacking, even for that period. Do not recommend, for that and other reasons.)

This is from 2019:

Haven't read the whole thing but seems interesting. I had noted somewhere before "early" English readers (presumably in French) of Sade. It seems likely that a freethinker like Percy Shelley would have been aware of him, so why not Mary?

Sade's clandestine publications the Shelleys might have come across include all three versions of Justine, published between 1791-1801. And there were few other, "public" works--Aline et Valcour, some stories and pamphlets.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 4, 2021, 4:35 pm

Apologies for the cereal posting... Here's an interesting note to another article (and yes, apparently there is quite a bit of literature on Sade and English Romantics)--my bolding:

None of Sade's works appears on any of the lists Shelley kept of her and Percy's reading. But it is highly unlikely that she would have admitted to reading such books. We do know that Byron owned a copy of Justine in 1816, just before he left England. According to Leslie Marchand, his possession of this book was one piece of evidence Lady Byron adduced as a sign that her husband was mad (2, 559). Mary Shelley, then, may have heard about more than Galvanism while listening to Shelley and Byron's conversations that fateful summer.

The vagueness of the allusions (and the bewildering effect they have) would fit well with Mary mostly having heard OF rather than read Sade too. Rather than communicating something specific with the linkage, she might have just wanted to encourage, in the people "in the know", nebulous association to the dark, forbidden world of the demonic marquis.

ETA: link for the quote

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 5, 2021, 12:39 am

I'm about halfway through the story. The comments and observations above: boy, you all pinged it.

I thought I had read somewhere that Percy Bysshe Shelley suffered from what can be described as a "nervous condition", so it occurred to me that perhaps Victor is a combination, synthesis of both Percy and William Godwin.

And it also occurred to me when reading the section about poor Justine's ordeal that perhaps Mary Shelley had at least heard of Sade's Justine.

I similarly find some sections to be a bit...good but also rather abrupt. But it moves along rather well, which makes it quite an enjoyable read.

Can't decide whom I feel more sorry for, but detest as well--- Victor or 'the Daemon". They both represent the best and worst of us, I suppose.

syyskuu 5, 2021, 3:52 am

Curious, I studied the Romantics as much as I could and I don't think Sade ever came up.

My snag with that particular quote, Lola, is that it doesn't seem to go so much into methods of science as it does motivations and ambitions, so that's why I'm not getting so much of a contradiction. I don't think that Dr. Frankenstein is meant to be evil or a "bad guy" as much as he's represents humanities potential for ruin even through the best intentions (that's a general statement rather than talking about Victor, specifically.)

And yes, I also found the book surprisingly easy to read after slogging through Percy's preface.

I don't know where my copy is so I'm quoting from memory, but early on Shelley states the theme of the book quite openly in Frankenstein's warning to the ship captain (can't recall his name right now, "Learn by my precepts, if not by my example, how dangerous is the pursuit of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his home to be the world than he who strives to become greater than his nature will allow." (Or something like that.)

Of course, Frankenstein is dying by the time he owns up to his mistakes, but he does get there. The subtitle "The Modern Prometheus" does make me wonder if Shelley did find something admirable in the quest for knowledge, or if it was more the parallel to Prometheus defying the gods (to aid mankind) and getting punished for it.

I also feel that the monster isn't entirely innocent either. He is to start with, but eventually becomes monstrous when he starts to act with malicious intent. The monster didn't start a monster but ended that way.

I was about to muse a little on how the story might turn out if someone re-worked it with a responsible and caring creator, but I think that's pretty much what was done in Edward Scissor-Hands.

syyskuu 5, 2021, 3:55 am

Oh yes, just a thought but I found my old University stuff in my book piles, including the massive binder print-out of an old text that my Romantics professor had to special order because the actual book was out of print. It's somewhere in a box but I can dig it up and post the details here if people are interested.

syyskuu 5, 2021, 8:11 pm

>44 WeeTurtle:
That does sounds interesting, if it won't be a lot of trouble to find it and post it.

A confession: I'm ashamed to say I'd forgotten (consciously, at any rate) the subtitle of the novel, and a dramatic work by Percy Shelley, when I cleverly (or so I thought) lighted upon the word "Promethean" in >34 housefulofpaper:.

Another confession: I haven't started reading the novel yet. I still have the last third of Mrs Radcliife's The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne to go. It would be a re-read though, I read the novel, in the 1818 version, in the mid-nineties.

I said further up the thread that I had a few TV documentaries about Frankenstein and the Villa Diodati ghost-story competition and so forth. I started looking at them and it put me on the trail of an older one that covered a lot of same ground nearly 40 years ago. And it's on YouTube (for the moment, the usual warning/caveat):

No doubt you'll want to wait until after reading the book and coming to your own conclusions before watching, but I think it's worthwhile. There are dramatised sections of the novel, an interesting cast of "talking heads" - Peter Cushing, Brian Aldiss, Forrest J. Akerman*, Mel Brooks, Bernie Wrightson, and (I found this quite striking) even through the very soft image of this off-air to VHS to YouTube upload, you can see (and hear) the appalling quality of the film prints the BBC had access to (we're talking classic Universal and Hammer films here).

* The Touchstone, I realised after some puzzlement, goes to a two-headed chimera composed of Akermann and his publisher James Warren. Between them they were responsible for Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 5, 2021, 11:25 pm

I've just finished reading the story but have appendices left to read. It generally is a remarkably well written story, and if it's true that Mary Shelley was barely twenty when she wrote the first

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 6, 2021, 12:05 am

>43 WeeTurtle:

My snag with that particular quote, Lola, is that it doesn't seem to go so much into methods of science as it does motivations and ambitions, so that's why I'm not getting so much of a contradiction.

The differentiation between the modern scientists and Victor is made by Shelley herself, as I have quoted (and as appears from the start, repeated in multiple places). I don't see it as a contradiction--maybe that's what creates the "snag" for you--but simply two different things. He is not after knowledge per se, he has a definite goal of "creating life". This is not a scientific goal but an alchemical dream, conceived by someone who is motivated by "poetry" more than rationalism. Someone who, like the alchemists of times past, would much prefer to be a mage--at least, that's who he resembles far more than his professors, as described (and presumably the majority of students).

Victor, by his own words, despises actual reason-based, chimaera-dispersing science. To him what he learns, the skill he masters, is simply a tool for achieving his grandiose dream.

What is at core here regards different conceptualisations of science, which I admit I didn't expect to find in this text, going by its popular reception. But Mary Shelley actually did capture something of the debates of her times in greater nuance than one might think.

Romanticism is a complex theme that abounds in ill-defined and ambiguous notions, and I've only studied it superficially in relation to philosophy and history of science (one of very few "social science" courses we had), so I can't go in great depth about this. But I pulled out one book that immediately started resonating with this subject although it doesn't mention Frankenstein nor Shelley nor any English Romantics at all (going by the index-- it does mention, by way of contrast, English Romanticism in general).

It's The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe and it deals with Germany as the origin and site of early Romanticism (1780s/90s) through "late" (1830s).

I'm afraid that if I start quoting the posts will mushroom way beyond the call of duty, but I do want to illustrate how well-established the dichotomy Shelley writes about was long before she wrote Frankenstein.

The italics are in the original, the underlining is mine:

Initially, I think, we must distinguish Naturphilosophie from Romantic science---or rather, Romantic biology as that discipline of science with which I am concerned. The terms Naturphilosophie and romantisch are not the historian's confections; introduced in the early eighteenth century, they were reoriented by authors at the end of the century for specific semantic purposes. (...) Based on their respective histories and the constituent ideas with which they were associated, I wish to suggest that Romantic biology be taken as a species of the wider genus of German nature philosophy. Thus all Romantic biologists were Naturphilosophen, but not all Naturphilosophen were Romantics... Romantic thinkers added aesthetic and moral elements to the content of ideas traveling under the rubric of Naturphilosophie.

Note that I am not necessarily agreeing with Richards' ideas, but simply pointing out that he is pointing out, the existence of differentiated categories of people, shall we say "interested" in science, but who had different conceptualisations of it. Victor Frankenstein is definitely a "Romantic biologist". Even his plan to make the creature "beautiful", and on a scale more like an angel (eight feet instead of a more human-like stature) fits with Richards' remark about the aesthetic element Romantics insisted on including in their organic view of ideas (art, poetry, science ought all to be combined in a beautiful harmonious whole).

There is more interesting stuff regarding the contrast in English and German outlooks that sounds as if it might be relevant. Briefly, in England theology dominated and a mechanistic, "clockwork" view of the universe inherited from Descartes and Newton, with a Creator making machines. In Germany, Richards writes, Naturphilosophen took a Spinozistic view--God and nature were one--that was, to English minds, practically atheist.

So Victor may be read not only as a Romantic, but a naive English Romantic who expects to put together a beautiful living being out of dead elements, like (the English) God did it. And he got bitten on the ass by a different, German Romantic vision, one of the dark and ungovernable natural chaos that brooks no control, and needs no creator but itself.

syyskuu 6, 2021, 12:57 pm

On the subject of Frankenstein TV documentaries:

Of the 1994 South Bank Show edition, YouTube offers only a 30-second trailer.

This documentary, as is plain from the trailer, although nominally about Frankenstein is built around Kenneth Branagh's 1994 film version: a general inroduction not at all dissimilar to the Everyman documentary I linked to yesterday in approach, then looking at the film, then Melvyn Bragg interviewing Branagh.

I have, finally, started the book (the 1831 version). Percy Shelley's preface certainly sets out the grounds for considering the novel as the first work of science fiction ("The event on which the interest of the story depends is exempt from the disadvantages of mere tales of spectres or enchantment. It was recommended by the novelty of the situations which it develops; and, however impossible as a physical fact, affords a point of view to the imagination for the delineating of human passions more comprehensive and commanding than any which the ordinary relations of existing events can yield.")

Mary Shelley's 1831 introduction glosses over the events of the summer with Byron (the Richard Holmes biogsraphy present them pretty much as highly charged as Stephen Volk and Ken Russell do in Gothic. She presents the summer as an idyllic time, recollected in her widowhood. No mention of the child she had recently lost which is now widely seen as the main psychological driver for the dream that became Frankenstein. But between Victorian proprieties and natural reticence, no more than one would expect.

And then onto the framing narrative - the letters of Robert Walton to his sister. The letters setting up the parallels of Walton and Victor Frankenstein is pretty obvious even before they meet and Frankenstein pretty much says it aloud (not so obvious to the first readers in 1818 of course). The allusion to "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" looks like an instance of what's now called "lamp shading" - the author pointing out an obvious lift from or riff on another work before the reader has a chance to.

This section has been trimmed somewhat compared to the 1818 text (I found the book The Original Frankenstein edited by Charles E. Robinson. It doesn't actually present the 1818 test but the 1816-1817 manuscript, and that was different from both published versions. But a couple of sections are lost ,so in fact this book reprints the Robert Walton section from the 1818 edition).

syyskuu 6, 2021, 4:01 pm

>45 housefulofpaper:

I watched a bit of the documentary (will complete it later) but it's become glaring to me how simplified is the story in the popular legend disseminated through the movies etc.


Finished Volume I and started on Volume II.

Victor receives the terrible news that his little brother was murdered and rushes back home to Geneva. I was startled to discover that supposedly two years have passed since his disastrous experiment--and not once in all that time does he wonder where the creature went and what happened to it.

Only when he sees an ominous shadow lurking in the dark he starts to think about it and concludes immediately that this must have been his brother's murderer. In the city, however, the powers that be have alighted on a different culprit, the ill-fated (and now obviously significantly named!) poor virtuous Justine. Not only circumstantial evidence condemns her, but her own confession extracted by a bastard priest who blackmails her with eternal damnation etc.

However, her lie troubles her as much as the obscene threat that extorted it and she confirms to Elizabeth and Victor that she is dying innocent. Then she's murdered. Murdered by legal execution, with the approval of the church and court.

Victor supposedly suffers from guilt but does nothing to save her. The family proposes a jaunt into nature on muleback.

syyskuu 6, 2021, 4:32 pm

One of the commonest simplifications that are taken for granted in the popular understanding of Frankenstein is that it represents a critique of scientific "hubris". But I'm thinking it appears to be something quite different. First, as I noted amply so far, Victor isn't a representative of modern science but a Romantic inclined to mysticism, with roots in myth (and a future, possibly, in such gadfly figures like Paul Feyerabend and a motley crew of New Agey "alterna" thinkers and tinkerers).

Second--was Mary Shelley likely to express such shallow moralizing? Was she conventionally religious--or religious at all? I think we can detect a distaste at least for Catholicism, in Justine's treatment by the confessor who extorts a false confession from her on pain of hell.

Found this about Percy Shelley--I think we must be careful not to assume they thought alike, but at a minimum it's evident she can't have found his opinions unbearable to live with:

Percy Bysshe Shelley: 'Atheist. Lover of Humanity. Democrat'

Shelley’s atheism and his political philosophy was at the heart of his poetry and his revolutionary agenda (yes, he had one). Our understanding of Shelley is impoverished to the extent we ignore or diminish its importance.

I think what I'd like to do is approach the Shelleys from the Continental, German and French side. I'm beginning to think the Frankenstein story has been distorted in a way by a simplistic single-focus reading that favours, errr, how to put it--let's say an English "vicar's" interpretation of things, making it all very cosy and palatable for a discussion around a tea table in St. Mary Mead's.

Speaking of "Democrat"--I noticed, when Elizabeth was first writing about Justine, her praise for the democratic Swiss that had servants and masters on a more equal footing than was imaginable, let alone allowed, in the English caste system.

syyskuu 6, 2021, 4:41 pm

Sorry to all for hogging the thread!!! But this turned out to be far more interesting than I expected!

syyskuu 6, 2021, 5:39 pm

*hog, hog*

Very interesting essay by Jill Lepore from 2018 (The New Yorker):

The Strange and Twisted Life of “Frankenstein”

After two hundred years, are we ready for the truth about Mary Shelley’s novel?

...“Frankenstein” is four stories in one: an allegory, a fable, an epistolary novel, and an autobiography, a chaos of literary fertility that left its very young author at pains to explain her “hideous progeny.” In the introduction she wrote for a revised edition in 1831, she took up the humiliating question “How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea” and made up a story in which she virtually erased herself as an author, insisting that the story had come to her in a dream (“I saw—with shut eyes, but acute mental vision,—I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together”) and that writing it consisted of “making only a transcript” of that dream. A century later, when a lurching, grunting Boris Karloff played the creature in Universal Pictures’s brilliant 1931 production of “Frankenstein,” directed by James Whale, the monster—prodigiously eloquent, learned, and persuasive in the novel—was no longer merely nameless but all but speechless, too, as if what Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley had to say was too radical to be heard, an agony unutterable. (...)

This enduring condescension, the idea of the author as a vessel for the ideas of other people—a fiction in which the author participated, so as to avoid the scandal of her own brain—goes some way to explaining why “Frankenstein” has accreted so many wildly different and irreconcilable readings and restagings in the two centuries since its publication. (...)

If any man served as an inspiration for Victor Frankenstein, it was Lord Byron, who followed his imagination, indulged his passions, and abandoned his children. (...)

syyskuu 6, 2021, 6:08 pm

>50 LolaWalser:

Two centuries on, my French friend expressed her surprise at the persistence of the English Class system and did indeed describe it as a Caste system.

The Frankenstein documentaries - if you've watched the Everyman you'll have seen Mel Brooks advancing the idea that the book is in part about "Womb Envy" - the male's envy at the female's ability to create life (I can't say this is something I've ever been aware of in myself).

Kenneth Branagh in 1994 mentions this idea in passing, while interviewed by Melvyn Bragg. He actually phrases it as an envy of "giving birth". Oh, no. Definitely not...

Anyway, both this documentary and the next one I catalogued discuss the ideas about galvanism being the actual "spark of life" when Mary was growing up. With dramatisations of the demonstrations where electrodes would be applied to recently-hanged criminals and convulsive twitches and grimaces induced in the bodies.

The next one is "Frankenstein: Birth of a Monster" from 2003. A sign of the times, it has a "celebrity presenter" although admittedly Robert Maurice Lipson Winston, Baron Winston FMedSci FRSA FRCP FRCOG FREng2 professor, medical doctor, scientist with a career focussed on reproductive medicine, as well as a television presenter, wasn't an inappropriate choice.

Both this and the South Bank Show also discuss body snatching, which how medical students got their specimens for dissection.

This is the first one to mention Johan Conrad Dippel, alchemist and occultist borne at the real Castle Frankenstein. Another source of inspiration. It also dramatises the summer at Villa Diodati with a definite post-Gothic atmosphere.

and casts a rather more censorious eye on the Shelley-Claire Claremont-Byron domestic set-up than previous documentaries have cared to. Another sign of the times, perhaps.

(Oh, and a bonus - Clive Merrison in early scenes as William Godwin. BBC Radio 4's Sherlock Holmes sounds like Holmes and even smokes a clay pipe).

It strikes me that the documentaries are coming to the novel with 20th century notions of psychology and psychiatry, not to mention a post-Atomic perspective (oh yes, 1986 and 1994 both reference Robert Oppenheimer and the Bomb. That particular anxiety seems to have abated for Lord Winston, however).

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 6, 2021, 6:18 pm

>52 LolaWalser:

Mary does also say in that introduction

Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos; the materials must, in the first place, be afforded: it can give form to dark, shapeless substances, but cannot bring into being the substance itself.

Which doesn't strike me as wrong. She left a lot out of that account, but what's there doesn't seem to be a complete fabrication.

(I'm posting from my other account, btw).

syyskuu 6, 2021, 6:34 pm

>53 housefulsfilmtv:
The 2003 documentary also has a small section showing the (unauthorised) stage adaptation of Frankenstein and suggests this may be the source of the lumbering, wordless creature. I think I've seen that suggestion made elsewhere - it would have to survive at least in memory for a century to make it to 1931 and James Whale/Boris Karloff - but maybe?

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 6, 2021, 8:25 pm

Hmm, I think that the adaptations have hopelessly compromised the reception of the novel; most of the time people are talking about notions arising from that secondary production, not Shelley's original. Again, that common fallback to the trivial piety of "don't play gods" is a sign of this.

I recommend Lepore's essay for a different tack to everything I've seen said about Frankenstein by men. I think it's perfectly true that the book has been underestimated and misrepresented because of sexist prejudice, among other. The main reason I skipped the editors' introduction in my book is that they were so hellbent on identifying "source" bits and pieces that might fit Shelley's reading, and completely disregarded what she might have been thinking. Just like Lepore writes, they treat Shelley like an "empty vessel".

Not sure I have it in me to voice the point of view Lepore describes, motherhood is a foreign country where I'm concerned, but I'm convinced there is something there much more significant than what the film folk etc. have brought forth.

>54 housefulsfilmtv:

Good quote and another pointer to the idea that creation doesn't proceed out of some tidy colour-by-number design but a dark and chaotic place.

It is a chaotic book, I think, and not entirely to a positive effect. But then I don't know how much can be demanded from someone that young and hardly (as I gather?) educated to some disciplinary ideal.

syyskuu 7, 2021, 2:55 pm

I've found Christopher Frayling's 1996 series Nightmare: the Birth of Horror. The first episode takes Frankenstein as its subject. Frayling mentions Castle Frankenstein and the stories surrounding the alchemist Dippel (his dates - 1673 – 1734 - make him an occultist in the Age of Reason. Perhaps it follows that he sold his potion as "Dippel's Oil").

Frayling also says Percy and Mary visited the automata at Neuchatel - yet another another thing that raises the "what is it to be alive" question that Mary encountered prior to writing her story.

And he refers to Dr Polidori's diaries, which contradict Mary's recollection and say that she told her story first during the Villa Diodati ghost story competition.

syyskuu 7, 2021, 3:16 pm

The 2003 Lord Winston-fronted documentary includes a recreation of some moments from the stage adaptation (as I said in >55 housefulsfilmtv:). I've just realised it's recycled from Nightmare: the Birth of Horror - and the earlier documentary has more of the play (titled Presumption! or, The Fate of Frankenstein).

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 12, 2021, 5:04 am

>47 LolaWalser: "So Victor may be read not only as a Romantic, but a naive English Romantic who expects to put together a beautiful living being out of dead elements, like (the English) God did it. And he got bitten on the ass by a different, German Romantic vision, one of the dark and ungovernable natural chaos that brooks no control, and needs no creator but itself."

That's an interesting perspective and I am inclined to agree with it. Victor does have grand aspirations (and that feels like a mild way to put it) and doesn't seem to consider that something might not go the way he intends it to, until later in the book when he starts to clue in that you can't do things like this and sweep them under the rug if you don't like the result. He may have been too starry eyed at his own goals to really see them logically, but he never struck me as a mad, cackling, switch throwing, "it's ALIIIIVE!!!" sort of individual. (All though, Wishbone did a similar scene but was much more serious about it, and I think it worked fairly well. ;)

I do think that the films, cartoons, breakfast cereals, etc. has contributed a lot to the over simplification of the story. Saying that it's a story to warn people against playing god is a neat and tidy statement. And I imagine it's easier to get people watch a film than read a book.

On "womb envy," I know the term from my one psych course. I think it was proposed by a former student of Freud's. Can't say that surprises me. ;)

And on Shelley, I remember my professor commenting that Shelley was a piss-poor atheist if you were to judge by his writing. We were going over "Prometheus Unbound" while there is contempt for gods, Zeus in this case, there still seems to be this overall feeling of something divine or sublime.

syyskuu 12, 2021, 6:06 am

>56 LolaWalser: I think anyone looking at the work of Mary Shelley has to consider the influence of her mother's writings on the teenager. Mary Shelley read her mother's works repeatedly and is reputed to have brought an almost complete set of Mary Wollstonecraft's writings with her on her travels. While Mary Shelley was young, she had been steeped in her mother's thoughts and would have been anything but an empty vessel.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 12, 2021, 1:34 pm

I think all of you have hit on some pretty salient points.

One that I'm still trying to get around my head is the historical fact that Mary Shelley lost not one, but three out of four children. And I just can't get my head around how that must've felt. Add that to the fact that she was relatively well educated, had lived abroad, etc. It just seems that the background she'd had was so complex, and the age at which she wrote the book, or at least 1st edition (seriously, age 19)...

brief online synapsed of this paragraph above: "Three of their own children died soon after birth, and Mary fell into a deep depression that did not improve even after the birth in 1819 of Percy Florence, her only surviving child. The Shelleys' marriage suffered, too, in the wake of their children's deaths, and Percy formed romantic attachments to other women."

Quite a bit going on...

Great lover of the Wishbone series, so good to keep at least a bit tongue-in-cheek, otherwise I find the whole thing very depressing: the book, its background, and my reaction to it.

syyskuu 12, 2021, 9:56 pm

>61 benbrainard8:
It's even worse. Mary Shelley lost four out of her five children. A son named William died aged three and a half.

syyskuu 14, 2021, 1:16 am

Hi all, I just discovered this group. What a fascinating discussion of one of my favorite authors. I'm Margaret by the way. :-)

syyskuu 14, 2021, 1:57 am

>63 Gilded_Tomes1:

Hello, Margaret. Welcome to the group!

syyskuu 14, 2021, 2:39 am

I've been reading Nick Groom's introduction to the later Oxford World's Classics edition. Embarrassed! This is one of my all-time favourite novels; and Blade Runner (the director's cut, that is) is one of my all-time favourite films. Yet until Groom mentioned it I don't think the connection had ever clicked (even when I read >5 benbrainard8:). When you think about it the inspiration is obvious. Not sure if that goes for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep as it's a long, long time since I've read it and the only—vague—memory I have is of thinking it decidedly different to the film.

Nick Groom's introduction is very good, by the way. Though I'm again finding myself in 'the more I learn, the less I know' territory. Somewhere in there (haven't got it to hand at the moment), Groom does make the point that Mary Shelley is asking questions rather than making statements; so that, for example, rather than being straightforwardly 'anti-science', the book is simply pondering some of the contemporary science's controversies—the possibility of reanimating the dead or of creating life in the laboratory, and the ethics thereof, being hot topics in her day.

syyskuu 14, 2021, 3:02 am

>37 pgmcc: - One of those posts I'd love to have written about somebody!

My feelings are much more confused now:
Victor Frankenstein - Percy? Godwin? Byron? Shelley herself?
The Creature - Shelley herself? One of her lost children? Victor Frankenstein?!
Both - figments of Robert Walton's fevered and guilt-ridden imagination?

Incidentally, if VF was Percy and The Creature was Shelley herself, those murders lead to interesting speculations ...

syyskuu 14, 2021, 3:10 am

One unexpected pitfall of all this peripheral reading I've been doing: I'm now feeling I ought to read a couple more of Papa Godwin's novels. Death where is thy sting ...

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 14, 2021, 3:12 am

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

syyskuu 14, 2021, 3:18 am

>64 alaudacorax: Thank you! What a kind welcome :-) Very glad to be here.

Also, does anyone know if a company has ever produced a fine edition of the 1818 edition of Frankenstein with Shelley's original text?

syyskuu 14, 2021, 3:19 am

>62 housefulofpaper: Very interesting, regarding Mary Shelley's loss. Have you all read The Last Man?

syyskuu 14, 2021, 4:04 am

>70 Gilded_Tomes1:
I have The Last Man on my shelf begging to be read at some point. It has many companions joining in that same chant: “Read me! Read me! Read me….”

By the way, welcome. It is nice to have another person from the world of geology around.

syyskuu 14, 2021, 4:31 am

>66 alaudacorax:
Occam's Razor might help. It would favour the scenario in your statement, "if VF was Percy and The Creature was Shelley herself,... ", but it might also lead to the conclusion that Mary Shelley was simply writing a story. :-)

... those murders lead to interesting speculations ...
Now you have me throwing Occam's Razor out the window.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 14, 2021, 6:09 am

>72 pgmcc:


>69 Gilded_Tomes1:

I'm interested in any answers to that. I recently bought a rather nice Chiltern Classics edition; but it's the 1831 text (and leaves out Mary Shelley's introduction). I'd really like a good 1818 edition as well.

I don't know what you'd think of The New Annotated Frankenstein, by Leslie Klinger. It uses the 1818 text and looks reasonably impressive. With all Klinger's extraneous matter I don't really think of it as purely an edition of Frankenstein; but that's probably a personal thing.

ETA - And it's a little on the hefty side.

syyskuu 14, 2021, 8:57 am

>69 Gilded_Tomes1:

I put the question into Google & the first result brought me back here. There's a thread in the Folio Society Devotees group. Apparently both Pennyroyal Press and Thornwillow Press used the 1818 text.

The link below should go to the discussion.

syyskuu 14, 2021, 10:43 am

>73 alaudacorax: Thank you so much for this. I don't like annotated anything, and the only name I like on my books is the author / illustrator. But yeah, we do need a fine 1818 edition if possible!

syyskuu 14, 2021, 10:45 am

>71 pgmcc: Thank you for the warm welcome! It is indeed fantastic to meet people on here within the field, regardless of what spectrum :-)

syyskuu 15, 2021, 4:29 am

>74 housefulofpaper:

Hmm. Eye-watering prices for both publishers. Considering the price Pennyroyal is asking they could have given the book a decent web page—I can't get any idea of what you're getting for your $1,200. Some of the Thornwillow editions look quite nice from the outside, but I quite hate the one example of illustration they give.

syyskuu 15, 2021, 3:07 pm

>77 alaudacorax:

The Thornwillow edition's illustrations were too naive for my taste, although I've only seen them online. "In the flesh" they might well be better, especially if they were designed for letterpress printing and would have that bite into the paper giving more depth to the line.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 16, 2021, 5:16 am

>78 housefulofpaper:

Oh well: I can't imagine paying those prices even given an unexpected fortune coming my way.

Something I've been forgetting to mention: I very much approve of the opening lines of Nick Groom's introduction to the Oxford World's Press edition:
Readers who are unfamiliar with the plot may prefer to treat the Introduction as an Afterword.
Well done, Nick ...

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 16, 2021, 5:35 am

>79 alaudacorax: Darryl Jones does the same in his collection of M.R. James stories, "Collected Ghost Stories", and his "Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffman to Hodgson". Like yourself I appreciate such advice. As a matter of principle I will not read the Introduction to a novel I have not yet read. I like the story teller to tell me the story before someone else tells me what it is about or what I should think about it.

syyskuu 16, 2021, 6:23 am

I'm actually rather late getting into the book—I started reading on August 17th and immedately drifted away into lots of peripheral reading (I'll just repeat, here, that this is an all-time favourite of mine, hence the depth of interest in it). The trouble is, though, that coming to the text with all the viewpoints and nuances these academics have put in my head creates little stumbling blocks that really slow my reading. They've left me involuntarily constantly alert for lots of stuff that I'm not sure is relevant.

As an example, someone along the way, probably more than one, made me alert to the gendered language of Victor's professors—'penetrating' the 'recesses' of 'Mother Nature', 'lifting her veil' and so on. I came completely unstuck reading that passage because I started to wonder how much Shelley was actually aware of it—Nick Groom's introduction was the last of my peripheral reading and he almost seems to suggest that she was deliberately targetting this kind of thing. Was her mind on this stuff when she was writing M. Waldman's words? Was she quite unconscious of that veiwpoint on the language? It would be quite fascinating to know she was thinking about it; but, in my opinion, at least, if she was unconscious of it it's only relevant to reading modern studies of the book and not to reading the book itself (does that make sense?) Anyway, I don't know and probably wasted an hour last night failing to find out, instead of getting on with the reading.

It's still niggling at me. And there have been several other things that have had me staring at the wall, pondering, instead of getting on with the text (mostly to do with sex—for example, does Walton fall in love with Frankenstein or is that a purely 21stC and, thus, irrelevant reading?) And I'm starting to feel a bit grumpy about it. I'm wishing I'd read the text first, feeling I'm now bringing altogether too much baggage to the job.

Also, jumping across to the 1831 text for side by side comparisons doesn't help, either. I've firmly put a stop to that.

syyskuu 16, 2021, 6:26 am

And I firmly put a stop to that post. There were thousands more words trying to fight their way down to my fingertips ... apologies for the harangue.

syyskuu 16, 2021, 6:35 am

>81 alaudacorax: Nick Groom's introduction was the last of my peripheral reading and he almost seems to suggest that she was deliberately targetting this kind of thing.

To add to your confusion, remember she was an avid reader of her mother's works, which included, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. This might suggest that Mary Shelley was aware of the gendered language of Victor's professors.

syyskuu 16, 2021, 7:30 am

>79 alaudacorax:

There's a copy currently on sale through AbeBooks with a few photos:

That's far too much for me to contemplate spending on one purchase. You'll see from the Abe listing that there was a paperback edition published by the University of California and second-hand copies are available.

As an aside, it seems to be a thing with high-end private presses that their websites haven't been updated since the dawn of the internet.

syyskuu 17, 2021, 5:36 am

>84 housefulofpaper: - As an aside, it seems to be a thing with high-end private presses that their websites haven't been updated since the dawn of the internet.

Hah! I was thinking pretty much the same thing just before I logged on here. I get the impression a lot of publishers are only reluctantly and unenthusiastically on the web. >69 Gilded_Tomes1: has got me thinking I'd like a nice hardback 1818; but searching for one is proving a frustrating and time-consuming business.

syyskuu 19, 2021, 7:16 am

Yesterday evening I finished Volume II, Chapter III (1818 text).

This is the chapter where Frankenstein meets his creation for the first time since he ran away from the 'birth'.

I’m interested in how the setting has moved from the lower lands to the ‘sublime’ setting of the high Alps. This sort of but not quite echoes something I read in—I think—The Cambridge Companion to Dracula, but with a notable difference. There one of the essayists points out how, in Jonathan Harker’s journey to Dracula’s castle, his unknowing journey towards danger is echoed by the nature of the countryside he passes through, changing from pictureque and pastoral to dark and menacing. I'm fairly sure Radcliffe does a similar thing in 'Udolpho' (but perhaps my memory is playing me up). Shelley, however, moves the scene from picturesque and pastoral to ‘sublime and beautiful’ in the Edmund Burke sense. The scenery is tremendous and awe-inspiring; but it is not grim and dark—it's exhilarating. Why? I can't help but feel that she had some deliberate purpose for choosing such a setting; but I'm damned if I can work it out. And that's in spite of having read the book several times previously.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 19, 2021, 3:54 pm

I've finished reading the appendices and explanatory notes, which are about 70 pages in the 2008-2009 version, Frankenstein, Oxford World's Classics, 1818 Text. I've been taking my own notes, and still have quite a bit of background information to read about.

I often fall back on what I'd call "simple explanations", that I find either online or in print, to make me back up and take in the big picture, as they say. I found this online :

"Description : Shelley's enduringly popular and rich gothic tale, Frankenstein, confronts some of the most feared innovations of evolutionism and science--topics such as degeneracy, hereditary disease, and humankind's ability to act as creator of the modern world. This new edition, based on the harder and wittier 1818 version of the text, draws on new research and examines the novel in the context of the controversial radical sciences developing in the years following the Napoleonic Wars. In addition it shows the relationship of Frankenstein's experiment to the contemporary debate between champions of materialistic science and proponents of received religion."

"How is Frankenstein a story of good and evil? Frankenstein is an exploration of good and evil by a teenager who was steeped in atheism, adultery, immorality, and violence her entire life. It is a story written by a young woman trying to make sense of her world - both that of her own family and that of a quickly industrializing society."

The historical notes, excerpts in the appendices are interesting.

Still have difficulty delving into my own reactions to the book...

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 19, 2021, 4:14 pm

Ok, here's a challenge for you all, tell me what cinematic (including film and T.V.) versions would you say are (1) the most accurate to the book (2) available for either purchased download or on Blu-Ray?

Online, I've found two,

Frankenstein (2004), which surprised me (Hallmark Channel produced---really?!).

Frankenstein: The True Story (TV Movie 1973)

I'm willing to purchase the movie/T.V. version, but I really like the book and don't want to be disappointed.

I do remember seeing the 2nd version listed above, at least portions of it....there is a scene that I believe is supposed to be towards the end of the story, that always sticks out in my memory. It was very effective, at least to my young pre-teen mind.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 19, 2021, 6:27 pm

Not Frankenstein: The True Story. A very cheeky title for an original screenplay (kind of) that combines elements of Hammer's The Revenge of Frankenstein and Universal's The Bride of Frankenstein. I was intending to watch it again. I made an off-air recording when it last had a showing on British television. And I remember it being trailed for its first UK television broadcast in the '70s. With that title, and the buzz around Dracula "really" being Vlad Dracul around the same time, it seemed that the "big two" monsters had been "really real". Which I found a bit unsettling.

I haven't seen the Hallmark Channel version but a quick look online finds reviews confirming it's the most faithful version (beating Kenneth Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in that regard). The full mini-series version though, not the edited down versions such as the UK got when it was shown in cinemas.

I can think of more films that take the story or the characters and adapt, subvert or just play around with them, than try to straightforwardly tell the same story that Mary Shelley told.

Edited - for grammar and sense.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 19, 2021, 6:31 pm

>89 housefulofpaper: Thank you! I'll try to stream both versions , but will look to purchase the full length 2nd version mid-Oct. Will also rewatch Gothic (1986), too.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 20, 2021, 8:56 am

I’ve finished Volume II (1818 text). I can’t help but notice that the ordinary human’s revulsion from the being seems to be solely based on the appearance of his face. The apparently most damning descriptions of him are from an unreliable witness, Frankenstein. Even the one death he is so far responsible for appears to have been an accident. Otherwise, his actions have been mostly benevolent—doing chores to assist the De Lacy family, saving the little girl from drowning. And there are hints that he is a superman mentally as well as physically in that he is clearly shown as intellectually superior to Saphy despite being only a year old. It seems the reader is meant to ask which is the monster—the being or Frankenstein? And I never know whether or not to put a question mark at the end of a sentence like that ...

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 20, 2021, 8:58 am

>88 benbrainard8: - Frankenstein (2004)

These days I more and more often wonder is if my memory is failing me. I could swear I've never heard of that one before; yet it seems inconceivable that it could have come out and I been unaware of it.

... and it seems I can't get my hands on the full series. Typical of my timing: the full series is available on Prime Video ... which I cancelled yesterday, one day before the end of a month's free trial ...

... oh well, I've got five editions of the book ...

syyskuu 20, 2021, 8:47 am

>92 alaudacorax: - ... oh well, I've got five editions of the book ...

... and I still haven't found a nice hardback 1818.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 20, 2021, 9:14 am

>92 alaudacorax:

I pretty much regard the book and screen versions as two distinct entities; and this is because I don't think I've ever seen even a moderately faithfull faithful adaptation (I've never seen the Branagh, either; though I think it's on one of my lists, somewhere). I'd be quite curious to see one, though; so it's a bit disappointing to not be able to get hold of that mini-series.

syyskuu 20, 2021, 9:12 am

Do you know, thinking it over a bit, I'm not sure that I really want to see a 'faithful adaptation'. I think I'd be doomed to disappointment. I think I'd much rather keep the two things separate and watch films in the James Whale-inspired tradition.

syyskuu 20, 2021, 9:17 am

Got to stop this 'stream of consciousness' stuff ...

... and all these ellipses ...


syyskuu 20, 2021, 9:31 am

>96 alaudacorax: ...I am enjoying your string of ellipses consciousness... Please do not stop.

syyskuu 20, 2021, 9:43 am

>94 alaudacorax: & >95 alaudacorax:

I was cured of comparing books with their screen adaptions by reading Umberto Eco's Mouse or Rat: Translation as Negotiation. He pointed out that a book was written in one medium and that a screen adaption was a translation to another medium. Each medium has its own intrinsic characteristics and attributes, and hence, the telling of a story in one medium is bound to differ in some fashion from the telling of a story in another medium. The upshot of internalising this concept has stopped my comparing one with the other, and enjoying each of them in their own right.

That being said, I have never seen a film based on Dracula that was exactly like the book. Also, having not read Umberto's book before seeing the 1992 film, "Bram Stoker's Dracula", my reaction was not an example of judging a film separately from its source material. I remember leaving the cinema in a rage and telling anyone who would listen, "That film is not Bram Stoker's Dracula!".

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 20, 2021, 9:10 pm

I too enjoy the stream of consciousness, let the ellipses fly.

It's perhaps folly to ever expect any cinematic version of a movie to meet the quality of the book. And only a very, very few have ever surpassed the written story, Blade Runner: the Director's Cut, (1997) comes to mind with most readers admitting the movies surpasses the short story, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

I think it's fair assumption to treat them as different genres, only a very few movies capture the essence of the book. I'll enjoy watching the two versions listed above because I've not seen the 1st, and the 2nd I only remember brief snippets of it, they've must've shown the full series on our American public television stations---I would've been around age 7-9---no T.V. in our household after age nine, but any and all books allowed.

I'll try my best to watch them carefully....though probably won't take written notes like I did with the book this time around.

It just came to mind, there are some movies that actually take the essence from a different angle, to say, yet do so wonderfully--- I'm nodding to myself when I think of Edward Scissorhands, which was one of the best skewering of American "suburbia" that I can think of. We can assume it's very much off some of the premise of Frankenstein, too.

syyskuu 20, 2021, 12:49 pm

>96 alaudacorax:
I think I found the copy of the 1818 edition you have been looking for.

syyskuu 20, 2021, 1:05 pm

>98 pgmcc:

Oh—interesting point! Over recent years I've become more and more uneasy about reading books in translation; but it hasn't previously occurred to me to draw the parallel with screen adaptations. When you come to think about it, there is a definite parallel.

syyskuu 20, 2021, 1:13 pm

>101 alaudacorax:
Eco’s point was that a change of medium was a translation.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 21, 2021, 6:44 am

>83 pgmcc:

This book is a prime example of how the books I read increase my number of 'wannareads' by multiples of what I'm actually reading. I wrote above, somewhere, how I'm reluctantly feeling the need to read a couple more of Godwin's novels. But I'm also thinking I should read A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and The Sorrows of Young Werther, not to mention a re-read of Paradise Lost, which I've only read once and can't say is at all fresh in my memory.

syyskuu 22, 2021, 8:45 pm

Just looking back over these posts ...

>91 alaudacorax: - Even the one death he is so far responsible for ...

... facepalm ... how did I manage to forget Justine?

Actually, the creature is a slippery character to try to get my head around.

Victor, on the other hand, is easy: the Ross Geller of the Gothic genre—scientist and plonker.

syyskuu 24, 2021, 9:07 am

I’ve finished (1818 text).

Something that struck me quite forcibly at the end was Walton’s ‘independent witness’ confirmation that the creature was hideous. Frankenstein said at the start that ‘His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful’ and I was ever after in some doubt as to how much his contrary descriptions were true and how much due to the revulsion of his feelings on the moral implications of what he’d done and, afterwards, on the murders the creature had committed. I saw him as an unreliable witness; but then had to balance that against the reactions of the sighted part of the De Lacy family and of the old man who shot him. Then Walton gives us it in black and white—a face of ‘… loathsome, yet appalling hideousness’. He also describes the creature as being ‘… uncouth and distorted in its proportions …’, which directly contradicts what Frankenstein said at the beginning. I could put this down to forgetfulness on Shelley’s part, but that Frankenstein is shown all the way through as thoroughly unstable and unreliable—a genius and a bungler at the same time, and often infuriatingly obtuse when it most matters.

I’m up in the air at the moment. I have so much more I want to read about this book. And that’s not including the 1831 text which I’m particularly up in the air about—read it or just work through the relevant appendix in my current edition? I'm quite reluctant to move on, at the moment. I seem to have unfinished business with the book. Then, I suppose you always do with a really great book. For what it’s worth, I’ve come away from the text this time (I’ve said previously that I have new thoughts on this novel every time I read it) with the idea that it’s all about bad parenting.

syyskuu 24, 2021, 9:12 am

>105 alaudacorax:

There doesn't seem to have been much importance in being Ernest ...

syyskuu 24, 2021, 9:26 am

Aha! I've cracked it!
It's all lies! Ernest has bribed Walton and between them they've managed to murder all the Frankenstein family, plus Clerval who would no doubt have twigged on to the plot if left alive, and cooked up this tale to cover their tracks, so that Ernest could inherit all the family fortunes. And what's the betting Walton never makes it home? Man knows too much, clearly.

syyskuu 25, 2021, 11:39 am

I'm still reading the 1831 version. One reason for the slow progress is that I'm currently distracted by the horrible realisation that I've lost my copy of the 1818 edition. In fact a stack of Oxford World Classics paperbacks have vanished.

They are in the non-standard squarer format from the ;80s and '90s. I have to keep my paperbacks in boxes as there's no shelf space. I can only assume I took out all these oddly shaped ones so as to pack the other books more efficiently, but them what did I do with them??

syyskuu 25, 2021, 11:56 am

>108 housefulofpaper:
This is what makes a big collection of books so exciting.

syyskuu 25, 2021, 12:13 pm

>59 WeeTurtle:

But that's just poetic style, invoking "gods" etc. In that period it's common to dismiss atheists as "secret" believers in order to defuse their arguments. It's just sophistry. From what I've seen so far of Percy Shelley's statements on the matter there's no reason to suppose he wasn't serious. Same with Byron btw.

>65 alaudacorax:

rather than being straightforwardly 'anti-science', the book is simply pondering some of the contemporary science's controversies

Yeah, I don't think it's "anti-science" at all, I think this strain of thought was imposed on the book to the detriment of Shelley's meaning.

>87 benbrainard8:

"Frankenstein is an exploration of good and evil by a teenager who was steeped in atheism, adultery, immorality, and violence her entire life."

Urgh, the stench of religious bigotry is strong with whoever wrote that. I'd pay no attention to such views although I'm sure Shelley heard more than her share of them.

syyskuu 25, 2021, 12:22 pm

I finished the second volume, which left me firmly in the Team Creature. We finally hear the creature's side of the story--waking up into a world of confusion, all sensation, deprived of language. It escapes from Victor's abandoned apartments into the forest and slowly learns the world, all alone. It comes to an understanding of itself as a monster, although this isn't confirmed until the catastrophic finale of its long observation of De Laceys.

The creature implores Victor to make him a companion with whom it could go off into a desert wilderness and endure life in togetherness.

syyskuu 25, 2021, 1:43 pm

>108 housefulofpaper:

Been there ...

syyskuu 25, 2021, 8:08 pm

>108 housefulofpaper:, >112 alaudacorax:

I went through the same just the other day when I wanted to take a look at my Werther. Which is mentioned by Shelley as a very important reference--part of Creature's education--and which also answered my previous question about her knowing Goethe. But I can't find it, while I ferreted out half a dozen OTHER works of Goethe's. TYPICAL!

syyskuu 25, 2021, 8:15 pm

This is hilarious... seconds after I hit post on that I remembered a shelf with a stack of Reclam editions... that I then promptly managed to cascade on my head. BUT--I FOUND WERTHER!!

This too is funny--it contains TWO versions, printed side-by-side. One from 1774, the other 1787. What was this mania for rewritings? Maybe censorship, I guess.

syyskuu 26, 2021, 6:28 am

>114 LolaWalser:

I quite failed on comparing the two versions last night. I just couldn't follow stuff by working from the appendix in one copy (I really don't think the Oxford World's Classics appendix is very clearly managed). I eventually figured out I could only do it satisfactorily by having three copies open side by side: appendix; 1818; 1831. You try doing that in the company of a bolshie parrot who thinks I should spend my evenings sitting quietly, cuddling her with one hand and reading one book—certainly not constantly juggling three well within page-tearing-tantrum distance. I gave up ... I'll get round to it at some point ...

... it contains TWO versions, printed side-by-side.
Now, that would be handy ...

syyskuu 26, 2021, 2:00 pm


syyskuu 26, 2021, 4:28 pm

>116 housefulofpaper:

Yay! And they didn't have to drop on your head either.

syyskuu 26, 2021, 4:33 pm

>115 alaudacorax:

How is your lovely psittacus doing? Does it love to nibble on paper?

The doubling of literature is just too much. I think I'll stick to looking at the first version of Werther just to refresh memory--that's the one that precipitated the avalanche of suicides after all, although the spelling's crazier than in later editions.

syyskuu 27, 2021, 4:41 am

>116 housefulofpaper: That is the same edition I picked up in a secondhand bookshop in Athlone, the County Roscommon side, on Saturday. Now I have to check if I have an 1831 version someplace.

syyskuu 27, 2021, 8:31 am

>118 LolaWalser:

Very well, thank you. Paper, yes, but she much prefers nibbling my sweatshirts. I've given up on trying to dissuade her; she has a will of iron and when it comes to a battle of wills I'm 50/50 at best. Now I regard them as part of her normal living costs: buy four or five cheap ones at a time, only for wearing when she's out of her cage; bin each when she's reduced it to a mesh.

syyskuu 27, 2021, 8:32 am

>116 housefulofpaper:

Tristram Shandy: yet another book I've never managed to get all the way through ...

syyskuu 27, 2021, 1:58 pm

>119 pgmcc:
I must to confess to browsing the other groups on here and seeing your Green Dragon post. I think it prompted me to a more vigorous search!

>121 alaudacorax:
The 1990s has turned out to be my big decade for "heavy", important reading: Moby-Dick, Tristram Shandy, The Canterbury Tales, Clarissa, the Everyman William Blake (all the prophetic books)...I didn't expect to run down as I got older! That said, I did really enjoy Tristram Shandy.

syyskuu 27, 2021, 2:00 pm

>122 housefulofpaper:

Well I enjoyed them all in some way or another. Some were definitely more challenging than others, but Tristram Shandy was a fun read.

syyskuu 27, 2021, 4:21 pm

>122 housefulofpaper: My turn to confess. Your post prompted me to hunt out my copy of Tristram Shandy which is a book that I have not yet read.

I think that is an example of telepathic team-work.

syyskuu 27, 2021, 9:02 pm

>124 pgmcc:

Well, I'm grateful it worked!

According to Nick Groom's chapter, "The Term 'Gothic' in the Long Eighteenth Century, 1680-1800" in volume 1 of The Cambridge History of the Gothic , "if it meant anything, eighteenth-century 'Gothic literature' originally implied whimsical and eccentric writing: "the little Gothick Ornaments of epigrammatical Conceits, Turns, Points, and Quibbles, which are so frequent in the most admired of our English Poets."(Richard Steele - I think Steele is speaking "in character" here and does not actually favour the 'Gothick' over the Classical model favoured by the Augustans.

Groom then goes on to point an example of Swift parodying a colloquial way of writing as "directly contrary to the Example of the Greeks and Romans, altogether in the Gothick strain, and a natural Tendency towards relapsing into Barbarity:
I cou'd n't get the Things you sent for all about Town - I thôt to ha' come down my self and then I'd h' brôt 'um:..."

(Finally), here's the point of this post, the opening of Groom's next paragraph:
"This is a sardonic blueprint for 'sentimentalism' and on such terms Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy is modish English 'Gothick'."

So, Tristram Shandy is entitled to a place in our discussions!

It's worth mentioning, I think, that the first few chapters of the Cambridge history cover how the Gothic and the Goths were used for political purposes of nation-building, and by the opposed political parties, in the 'long eighteenth century'. I'd read about some of this before, coming at it from a different angle, in The Battle of The Books, which details the 40-year quarrel between the "ancients" and the "moderns".

syyskuu 28, 2021, 4:17 am

>123 housefulofpaper:, >125 housefulofpaper:

Well, it's been years—I vaguely remember having two goes at it and that's about all—so perhaps it's time I had another go.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 2, 2021, 1:21 pm

>48 housefulofpaper: I watched both Gothic and Frankenstein: The True Story (TV Movie 1973) yesterday afternoon and evening.

I found Gothic to be more "entertaining," Ken Russell really appears to enjoy the story, putting out/creating rather memorable imagery, and film has very interesting and morbid visual appeal. It's rather artistic in that way. I was surprised by the amount of drug taking in the story he puts out--- were Byron and PBS really that into opium? Ken Russell really goes "for broke", in a few scenes and I could see where some viewers might even be offended or shocked---sorry, haven't watched Ken Russell's The Devils---where I read he really cut lose. The male actors have quite a counterbalance with the two female leads. Mary Shelley doesn't come across as "radical" as her husband does.

The 2nd film, Frankenstein: The True Story (TV Movie 1973) suffers from making a mess of the actual story. I won't give it away: but the plot changes, character changes and omissions, not to mention timeline are fairly "murdered"---- yes, let's just say it. I can tell that at, for the time, it must have been quite an expensive movie to make for BBC but it just doesn't do justice to the story/book.

lokakuu 2, 2021, 8:43 pm

>127 benbrainard8:

were Byron and PBS really that into opium?

According to Christopher Frayling, in Nightmare: the Birth of Horror (the tie-in book based on his 1996 BBC series):
"Throughout the short-story evenings, Polidori also seems to have been kept busy dispensing ether or laudanum to Shelley (for his nervous headaches and hyperactivity) and Black Drop - a popular compound, which contained opium - to Byron. These were not thought to be stimulants; there was enough stimulation going on already {referring to the tensions in the group, depicted pretty accurately in Gothic} - they were tranquillisers."

Frayling had access to Polidori's diary for that summer.

lokakuu 2, 2021, 9:05 pm

>127 benbrainard8:

Frankenstein: The True Story was shot in the UK and was shown on BBC television, periodically, between 1975 and 1996 (and maybe at (a) later date(s) too).

This is what the Radio Times listing for its first UK television broadcast says:
' She is my angel -the first of her species - I think I will call her Prima. She will be my ward and I will present her to society.'
With its all-star cast and a screenplay by Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy , this mammoth production was originally made for US television as the definitive screen version of Mary Shelley's classic horror story.
Soon after the premature death of his brother, medical student Victor Frankenstein meets Henry Clerval , a man with strange, disturbing theories about conquering death. Victor visits Clerval's mill for a demonstration of his Strange experiments. Director JACK SMIGHT. Films: pages 16-17

But it did also receive a UK theatrical release: I found an online review/blog entry illustrated with a film poster showing the old "AA" certificate (i.e. no one under 14 admitted).

This blog says the surgical procedure and (implied) nudity were shocking to the (US) TV audience and toned down for subsequent showings.

On yet another blog (Nostalgia Central), the write up for the film starts:
American TV producer Hunt Stromberg Jnr. wanted to make a definitive version of the Frankenstein story which was faithful to Mary Shelley’s classic 19th-century novel. Given the green light by Universal, he recruited Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy to develop the script and selected Jack Smight as director.

lokakuu 2, 2021, 10:21 pm

>110 LolaWalser: I'd say it's more then poetic style when it's forming the content of the work. I'm not sure of my thoughts on whether or not Shelley was actually atheist, but it does seem from there that he was anti-established religion in favour of something more individual and natural.

>86 alaudacorax: This, I think, is representative of the dual impressions of Frankenstein. One the one hand we have the 'monster' impression, but on the other we have the 'son' impression as Victor's creation. Regardless of how he got there, Victor did bring life to something dead, which is a feat usually reserved for God, until now. In a wild, dramatic setting like the alps, we could have a parallel vision of a meeting between God and Adam. It's as far removed as we could likely get from the human condition, and still have our feet on the ground. (Of course, as lofty as that sounds, there's always the chance that the author thought it would make a good image. ;))

I haven't actually seen any Frankenstein films, unless you count the half/hour Wishbone version. I do like Bram Stoker's Dracula though, but then, I've yet to read the book. I definitely agree with not always comparing films and books, though I think it depends on what the film-makers ultimately do. Blade-Runner is one of the best examples I can think of, as well. I'd say the core points are there, but the movie and novel really are two different entities. There's a whole religion in "Do Androids Dream" that was removed for "Blade Runner" and I don't think that was a bad choice.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 3, 2021, 2:10 am

>91 alaudacorax: I hadn't heard of it at the time, but reading this now, I think it shows what we now refer to as 'uncanny valley,' with the monster resembling the best of humanity (Victor's intention, I assume, given his making the body "beautiful," but it's just a tick off that gives us a gut reaction to the negative.

Translation in any form, I think, always has some question about it, whether it's language to language or book to film, etc. I forget where I read the comment, but someone pointed out that Dracula is presented in such a way that it requires being read to appreciate the atmosphere, because it's a book of letters, and the events as we read about them are all necessarily in past tense. In the film, it's moved as much to real time as it could be.

Translation of language made me think of this video on translation in Bloodborne (Gothic/Lovecraftian video game). I found it really interested in showing what might get missed or how a story might change, based on the literal translation from one language to another.
(big spoiler warning, or as much of a plot spoiler that a soulsborne game can have)

lokakuu 3, 2021, 8:34 am

Um ... >129 housefulofpaper: is one gobsmacking post.
How could that clown of a Radio Times journalist write that paragraph? He clearly knew nothing of the novel. Unless he did know and simply didn't care, seeing his duty as to 'sell' the programme to the viewers irrespective of any glaring untruths.

Having said that, that's a really impressive cast. Ordered a copy from the US Amazon. Only DVD I could find that wasn't the shorter, film version.

My mind is boggling a little at Christopher Isherwood being involved. Now I've got all sorts of crossed wires in my brain and I'm imagining Frankenstein with Liza Minnelli song-and-dance numbers ...

... oops! Shouldn't have mentioned song-and-dance acts. Now I'm going to have the song-and-dance act from Young Frankenstein in my head all day. SOOPAH-DOOPAAAAH!!!

lokakuu 3, 2021, 2:09 pm

>132 alaudacorax:
this mammoth production was originally made for US television as the definitive screen version of Mary Shelley's classic horror story.
- I'm not sure, but...can this be read neutrally as only reporting the producer's aims for the film? And then the film reviewers didn't hold back if they didn't care for a film.

Unfortunately I can't refer to that review. I took the Radio Times data from the BBC programme guide website. This has swallowed up the old BBC Genome (which was an archival endeavour to establish what the BBC had broadcast, using digitised data from the Radio Times) and is seemingly trying to repurpose it as an index to what's available on the BBC iPlayer.

lokakuu 4, 2021, 4:50 am

Oh well, no doubt a few readers wrote in at the time.

That's a bit sad about the BBC Genome. Sounds like it would have been a fun and useful resource. Now I'm a bit sad I was unaware of it.

lokakuu 7, 2021, 1:06 pm

>130 WeeTurtle:

It's hard to address without knowing exactly what content you have in mind, but a feeling for the "sublime" or "divine" doesn't signify religious faith. It's sort of one of Romanticism's main things that it depreciated churchy religion while championing the worship of Nature. Certainly invoking Zeus or Prometheus or whomever doesn't mean the poet believes in gods. It's worth noting too that in the period "atheism" encompassed all deviation from (Christian) faith--agnosticism, deism, monism, paganism etc. was all the same in the sense of being atheist vis-à-vis believers.


Finished the 1818 version. Victor goes back on his promise to the creature, fearing that a couple would create a lineage of "demons" on Earth, and suffers the consequences of the creature's revenge as his near and dear are successively killed off. Exhausted from his long mission to find the creature and kill it, Victor dies on Walton's icebound ship. The creature appears and again wins over the reader (well, me anyway) by his altogether better quality than that of his maker.

The whole tragedy could have been avoided if Victor had behaved responsibly and took care of his creation, instead of deciding that because he was ugly he must have been evil and a "demon" etc.

lokakuu 8, 2021, 8:48 am

>135 LolaWalser: - ... his altogether better quality than that of his maker.

The thing I haven't got my head around yet (obviously this is going to take reading at least three books) is how, or how much, this superiority is dependent on his reading of Paradise Lost, The Sorrows of Young Werther and Plutarch's Lives. Shelley obviously intends us to think it is; but I don't yet understand the nuts and bolts of it.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 8, 2021, 9:47 am

I've recently made a start on The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley. The first essay, 'Making a "monster": an introduction to Frankenstein', by Anne K. Mellor, has some really interesting ideas.

She says (and the idea is not original to her) that the novel Frankenstein is actually a novel about the writing of the novel Frankenstein, and that it is also about Shelley's 'birth' as a novel writer. She says that the period of the action of the novel can be worked out from Walton's letters and other sources and that it is the same nine months as from Mary Shelley's conception to her birth. She says that, unlike in the case of almost all other female writers of the period, and because of her background and upbringing, it was pretty much expected of her that she become a successful author, by both her father and her husband—she was almost under pressure to perform as a parallet to the way other women were under pressure to produce a son and heir.

There's a whole lot more of fascinating stuff—food for thought—in just this one essay. I'm currently doing a reread of it before moving on; but I really hope the rest of the book lives up to the start—the usual 'Cambridge Companion' is a bit of a mixed bag ... *

* I've only actually read two, so far; but they were mixed bags.

lokakuu 8, 2021, 10:06 am

>136 alaudacorax:

Eh, I'm sure Victor wasn't ignorant of those books. But it seems obvious that the creature had an innate inclination toward goodness far superior to Victor's. Born mute and ignorant into a world of chaos, it worked out its way to people, family, love and, yes, education--at last. He started aiding the De Laceys drawn to them by their mutual affection. He felt compassion for them before he even had a language. The creature was born good.

lokakuu 9, 2021, 11:16 am

In retrospect, the absence of religion as a category not just of daily life but everybody's mental concern is quite striking. I read in too piecemeal a fashion for the impression to solidify at the time, but now it seems most glaring. Usually there is so much god-bothering and god-invoking and Jesus this and that in books from that era, but not here. What would have been more typical than for Victor to have turned to some churchy character to confess and repent of his sin, but where is even the mention of god in his remorseful tirades? Or for the creature to get a Bible shoved into his hands.

But instead, throughout the moral reference is to standards outside theology and the church.

lokakuu 9, 2021, 3:04 pm

>3 Majel-Susan: You should throw Melmoth the Wanderer in that group as well. The book will leave you speechless.

lokakuu 9, 2021, 4:42 pm

lokakuu 12, 2021, 1:58 pm

I'm hoping to apply myself to Frankenstein and finish the book soon. I'm currently at the part where Victor Frankenstein and Henry Clerval have travelled to England. I'd been aware that the main part of the action of the novel takes place not too far from the part of France I've been lucky enough to visit, but I was still childishly pleased when the action took them through Strasbourg (and of course I've been to London and Windsor as well).

I am reading the 1831 version and I think I noticed a couple of minor textual errors.

In the revised version, Victor and Elizabeth are no longer cousins. She is adopted into the Frankenstein family, because the Italian family fostering her have fallen on hard times and can ill-afford to support her. She is "the daughter of a Milanese nobleman". Her German mother died in childbirth and her father is either dead or "still lingered in the dungeons of Austria." However, in the discussion between Victor and his father about Victor and Elizabeth marrying, Victor still refers to her as "my cousin".

Second one: "It was on a clear morning, in the latter days of December, that I first saw the white cliffs of Britain". Two pages on, "We had arrived in England at the beginning of October, and it was now February." (My emphasis).

As I have found my copy of the 1818 text, I was able to check the corresponding passages. They are essentially the same (and not annotated by the Oxford World Classics editor, Marilyn Butler).

I also looked at the edited transcript of the 1816-1817 manuscript version, edited by Charles E Robinson. Here, "It was on a clear morning in the latter days of September" that Victor first sees the white cliffs. Robinson adds a textual note to say that this agrees with the dates of the journey given further on, despite being at variance with both published versions.(Presumably the cliffs were visible from the shore or dockside at Rotterdam, and the journey across the channel was between September and October, or early October).

lokakuu 12, 2021, 10:20 pm

>135 LolaWalser: I'd have to ask my professor for more detail about what he meant, but 'invoking' seems too mild of a term when the gods are actual characters. This was specifically referring to Prometheus Unbound.

"The whole tragedy could have been avoided if Victor had behaved responsibly and took care of his creation, instead of deciding that because he was ugly he must have been evil and a "demon" etc."

Yes, this part is pretty obvious though I think that's an oversimplified way of putting it. The monster isn't wholly good, and I don't think it is necessarily superior to Victor in any way. It is capable of atrocities as well as forgiveness, and in that fashion, is reasonably human. It's probably up for interpretation, but I see Victor's decision not to make another creature as his first step towards taking responsibility for the things he is doing. You can argue there's a bit of a parallel between the monster's presumptions about his 'bride' and Victor's presumptions about his creature. I think the line between Victor and the monster is thinner than it might seem.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 13, 2021, 5:31 am

>143 WeeTurtle:

Yes, I think Shelley is positing fascinating questions on 'nature versus nurture'; in which Victor and the creature are paralleled; but that which I think Shelley leaves open to the reader. Victor has an impossibly idyllic upbringing while the creature has none at all, having to find his own way; Victor is clearly led astray by his early reading while the creature is 'led aright' by his; and so on. But as so often with this book, I think these ideas through and never quite seem to arrive anywhere—not as regards Shelley's actual opinions, anyway.

I've moved on to other things but I have a real itch to read it through yet again. It's left so much buzzing around inside my skull.

lokakuu 13, 2021, 5:35 am

>142 housefulofpaper:

... and I'm itching to read the 1831 text ... and I'm thinking I really need another read of the 1818 first ... so much reading, so little time ...

lokakuu 13, 2021, 11:07 am

>143 WeeTurtle:

Having gods as characters still doesn't somehow negate one's atheism (or non-belief in those gods specifically). I mean, animals, witches, spirits etc. can be characters too.

I think that's an oversimplified way of putting it. The monster isn't wholly good, and I don't think it is necessarily superior to Victor in any way.

Of course it's not "wholly" good, it goes on a murder spree. But then I didn't say it was "wholly good", I said it was born good--a social being seeking relationships and community from the start, capable of deepest empathy and compassion. What he eventually became was crucially determined by how people treated him.

As for superiority to Victor, that's of course my impression and debatable. Victor was born with much privilege, yet he is vainglorious, silly, and infinitely irresponsible. If his initial shocked reaction is understandable, the fact that he then proceeded to ignore that his "monster" is somewhere on the loose as if nothing had happened, cements that irresponsibility into something even more monstrous. His inability to face to what he has done was what cost his family life as much as the creature's intention to destroy them.

I'd also say that the creature is superior in some material ways. He is more intelligent than Victor, or any ordinary human, as is shown by his amazing capacity not just to learn swiftly in the worst conditions (and from zero), but to build on gained knowledge. It's highly dubious that Victor, placed in such a Kaspar Hauser situation, could have done the same (or any human except, of course, the young Lord Greystoke AKA Tarzan). Victor DID wish to create a being superior to humans, after all, and had succeeded at least in part. And physically the creature is superior in every way except appearance.

>145 alaudacorax:

I'll at least look over the 1831 version, but also the introductions etc.

lokakuu 13, 2021, 11:32 am

I'm sure this isn't original, but before I read more criticism and lose track of my own ideas, I was thinking how easy it would be to see the monster as a projection of Victor's dark self/Id/whathaveyou--Mr. Hyde to Victor's Dr. Jekyll. Very few people actually see the creature and he talks to no one except Victor (until the very end at the North Pole) And those dialogues always happen at night or in remote places. There is a strong feeling of a dream over the narrative, to me.

Now I'm curious what Stevenson may have thought of it. He's bound to have read it.

lokakuu 13, 2021, 11:47 am

>147 LolaWalser:

The 1960s TV series Mystery and Imagination adapted Frankenstein, and played up the doppelgänger angle of the story by casting Ian Holm as both Victor and the Monster. There's a clip on youTube:

lokakuu 15, 2021, 3:04 am

>147 LolaWalser: He does speak with the blind man in the family he's assisting. That's important since it's more reason for the monster to distrust humanity outside of just what Victor's done. (This is the later edition I read, not sure if the earlier one has it differently.)

"Having gods as characters still doesn't somehow negate one's atheism (or non-belief in those gods specifically). I mean, animals, witches, spirits etc. can be characters too."

That's not what I was getting at. It was my professors opinion based on the way Shelley sort of deconstructs the gods though their interactions with Demogorgon. I'd need to go read the story again to get a full impression. IIRC, he does seem to launch into a very spiritual sort of presentation of the worlds without the gods as we know them. It could certainly look odd if one assumes that 'atheism' discounts anything that exists beyond what we can really know.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 17, 2021, 9:25 pm

>149 WeeTurtle:
So we both read the 1831 edition. I do also have (as previously mentioned) a copy of the 1818 edition which I read 25-30 years ago - so many details have faded and I was unable to make a comparison of the two texts.

Not to worry, there is a useful appendix setting out the main differences. This explains, inter alia, my confusion at the talk of the absence of (Christian) religion (see (5)).
Extracts below (All credit to editor Marilyn Butler, of course). The current Oxford World's Classics edition of the 1818 text has an identically titled appendix but I couldn't tell, from what's accessible online, whether or not it's the same.

1. Mary Shelley regularly amplifies descriptive passages or introduces reflective ones. She gives Frankenstein and to a lesser extent Walton an inner life and a conscience.
2. The characters of Walton, Frankenstein, and Alphonse Frankenstein are all softened, made more sympathtic and partly absolved from blame for his early errors...yet also reproaches himself more than in the first version.
3. Frankenstein's education is heavily rewritten...The first identifiable villains...are his teachers at Ingolstadt - a notoriously unorthodox university - who teach him bad knowledge.
4. Victor Frankenstein's character is now built up as admirable. His own description of his early craving for knowledge becomes desire for the ideal - a quintessentially Romantic search for 'the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man...the metaphysical, or, in the highest sense, the physical secrets of the world'. These lines are key ones, for they deny the more consistent links of the original Frankenstein with materialist science.
5. Frankenstein is given an explicitly religious consciousness
(talking about his guardian angel and the angel of destruction; and sacralising Nature).
6. A number of scientific passages are either cut...or transvalued...The 1831 reader is allowed to think that the faculty at Ingolstadt in the 1790s...were indeed teaching arcane magic under the name of natural science.
7. The family and their blood-ties are carefully revised.
8. Two emphatic pronouncements by Elizabeth, developing Godwin's critique of the administration of justice are omitted.
9. Clerval is preparing (1831) to become a colonial administrator; several remarks in 1818, and the Safie theme, imply disapproval of colonialism.

There seemed to be a lot of Percy Shelley in Victor Frankenstein, at least as presented in the 1831 version. There are the changes to his character noted in (4) but also the less admirable elements - the near-hysteria, the feelings of persecution to the extent of going about armed with pistols, etc.

lokakuu 15, 2021, 3:15 pm

The version of the novel I haven't read yet - the 1816-17 draft published by the Bodleian Library in 2008, lists the abbreviations used in the critical apparatus...which means it also lists and briefly describes some editions using the 1818 text.

1818 - 3 volumes published by Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones
1993 - published by William Pickering. This is the Marilyn-Butler edited text before it became an "Oxford World's Classic". So can we assume this is a hardback?
1996 - volume 1 of "The Novels and Selected Works of Mary Shelley" ed. Nora Crook. Again, published by Pickering. Another hardback?
1996 - The Norton Critical edition, ed. J. Paul Hunter.
1994 - The Broadview edition, ed.D. L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf.
1983 - Pennyroyal Press - Barry Moser's fine press edition
1984 - University of California Press paperback reprint of the above (three essays omitted)
1974/1982 - ed. James Reiger. The later edition, from University of Chicago Press, is to be preferred as a corrected edition.
1977 - The Annotated Frankenstein ed.Leonard Wolf. Apparently this prints a photo-facsimile of the original edition, but the copy chosen for microfilming (together with a flawed photo-offset process) led to a number of errors in the text
1993 - The Essential Frankenstein - a resetting of the text from the above but retaining the errors
2003 - A Longman Cultural Edition, ed. Susan J. Wolfson.

And we can add the now very expensive Thornwillow Press edition to the list.

lokakuu 15, 2021, 3:34 pm

>151 housefulofpaper:

Seems that the Thornwillow edition is unobtainable - no copies listed on AbeBooks at any rate.

The 2019 Arion Press edition uses the 1831 edition, but splits it into three volumes to follow the format of the 1818 edition.

lokakuu 15, 2021, 3:58 pm

In case anyone was interested, here are the three editions I've been using:

Harry Brockway's wood engravings of Victor...

..and his creation.

lokakuu 16, 2021, 4:37 am

Neat! I've been searching for a new edition but since bookstores tend not to keep them in stock, I've only looked at a couple and they weren't eye friendly.

My books are all stashed way right now with only one shelf of readers available, so I really can't look up my stuff (I have an old-ish Penguin Classics edition that I underlined and annotated). But! I did finally dig out my Romantic lit text. Major British Poets of the Romantic Period by William Health. Three inches of double-sided printer paper, covering the usual suspects (Blake, Wordy, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats.) I suspect the book might be so fat because at least a few of the longer works are printed in full.

lokakuu 17, 2021, 4:31 pm

>148 housefulofpaper:

There we go... thanks, that's interesting, leaves me wondering whether they explained it in-text.

lokakuu 30, 2021, 9:10 pm

>155 LolaWalser:

whether they explained it in-text.

Sort of, but it's ambiguous or wish-washy/bad storytelling...individual responses will differ, I think.

"In universe" or "in text", so to speak, when Victor and his helpers (Fritz, who is not officially Frankenstein's assistant but rather holds a post (porter or some such) at the University, and a corruptible church sexton), are stealing bodies, Fritz tells him the one they are currently disinterring is "like you...a scholar...just twenty years old" (this is from memory so I very much doubt this is word-perfect) and Frankenstein turns away and explains he "doesn't want to know".

That, I suppose, sets up that the twinning of Victor and his creation could be just a coincidence - albeit a pretty huge one. But much later on in one of the scenes they have together, the creature accuses Victor of making him (the creature) in his own image, and thereby "playing God" (this is the interpretation accepted in the booklet that accompanies the DVD of the surviving episodes of Mystery and Imagination.

And yet...this version leans so heavily on the doppelgänger idea, that even though we follow the creature in scenes corresponding to his narrative where he initially wanders and then "sort of" lives with the de Lacey family, the storytelling seems to leave a loophole almost to the end where in some sense the creature could be a phantom of Victor's imagination. Could he be doing the killings, after all? But that doesn't really work, because one of the biggest changes to the story is that the son of the de Lacey substitutes recognises Victor as the creature he drove from their house (and thereafter pursues him in vindictive-peasant mode, as familiar from the Universal film cycle, but having something of a paranoid-thriller spin here).

It's also the case - and not ever explained in universe - that the creature only rises to the heights of the novel version's eloquence in two-hander scenes with Victor. With other people, his speech resembled that of somebody with cerebral palsy (which was until fairly recently theatrical shorthand for all kinds of mental and physical impairment).

marraskuu 5, 2021, 10:53 pm

Found myself a hard cover copy today. It's Puffin, 2020, and hot pink! It's also light weight and quite easy on the eyes. It doesn't say explicitly that it's the 1818 text, but that's what's listed in the copyright so I assume so. I can compare it to my other one once my library is reassembled.

marraskuu 6, 2021, 7:14 am

>157 WeeTurtle:

Wow. That's pretty striking (the one with Karloff-type silhouette, right?). Annoying ... the Puffin site makes no mention of which text they are using.

marraskuu 6, 2021, 7:29 am

>157 WeeTurtle:, >158 alaudacorax:

Will you post when you figure out which text it is, please? I've been wanting a nice hardback 1818.

marraskuu 6, 2021, 7:50 am

The 1818 text is divided into three volumes of 4 letters and 7 chapters, 9 chapters, and then 7 chapters and "Walton in continuation".

1831 is one volume of 4 letters and 24 chapters plus "Walton in continuation".

The first textual difference I've noticed is at the end of Walton's "Letter III". After "I will be cool, persevering, and prudent", 1818 signs off with "Remember me to all my English friends."

Whereas 1831 signs off with two further paragraphs ending "Heaven bless my beloved sister!".

marraskuu 6, 2021, 8:45 am

The trouble with hunting online for info on the various editions of Frankenstein (and I've been down that fruitless route previously, quite recently—most publishers should be damned—or whoever is responsible for their websites) is that I start getting thoughts sneaking in of collecting editions. That way madness or bankrupcy lies.Once started, it wouldn't stop at Frankenstein, of course. Trying to figure out how to sit firmly on myself to stop myself doing anything rash. Switch off the computer and hide your plastic cards!

marraskuu 6, 2021, 9:09 am

>161 alaudacorax:
That is quite Gothic. I was influenced in that way with Aickman and Ligotti. :-(

The madness is here, but I am not yet bankrupt.

marraskuu 6, 2021, 3:05 pm

>156 housefulofpaper:

Interesting, thanks. (I might get that DVD set...)

marraskuu 11, 2021, 1:05 am

>160 housefulofpaper: It looks like the pink copy is the 1831, going by thee "Heaven bless" line. My little scholastic copy is the same, as were the two copies I checked at the bookstore. It seems to be the default, even where the copyright is listed at 1817/1818.

marraskuu 11, 2021, 4:58 am

>164 WeeTurtle:


I did have another online hunt after I posted last. It is shameful how many nice editions are about where you can't, for the life of you, figure out which text they're using. Someday I'm going to have to sit down and round up a batch of nice-looking editions and email all their publishers and ask.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 12, 2021, 9:31 pm

>165 alaudacorax: Some offer free previews. Could always check and see if one of the pages available shows some indicator text.

On the plus side for me, at least I can get rid of a copy or two.

Oh! I forgot, just for fun, I picked up one of those "Who/What" kid's books on What is the story of Frankenstein? It starts with the history of the story of course, but also goes into the films, and Karloff, etc. Those little books are kind of neat. The librarian in me picks up the odd one if it's on a topic I'm interested in.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 16, 2021, 8:36 pm

Versions of the Frankenstein story...

This is copied from the BBC website:
Lacey Turner, David Harewood and Andrew Gower star in a spectacular live drama and music event - a contemporary interpretation of Mary Shelley's gothic horror story. Victor Frankenstein is marrying his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth Lavenza, all the while knowing that the creature he created and rejected has vowed to return on his wedding night. 12,000 people will gather at Kirkstall Abbey to share the big day and join the couple in a unique mass flash mob dance.

Yes, this strange undertaking - itself a Frankenstein's monster, stitching together elements of live music festival coverage, jukebox musical, inappropriately grim soap opera (not so much the story but the way of telling it. Think "should Eastenders really be scheduled on Christmas Day afternoon?"), and the BBC's recent-ish experiments in live television drama (the restagings of The Quatermass Experiment and A For Andromeda in the '00's, at least as much as the live editions of Eastenders and Casualty a few years later) - was broadcast live on 25 March 2011.

I recorded it out of curiously but didn't actually get around to watching until our discussion of the novel prompted me to find the DVD (as an aside, how strange it seems, after taking home recording for granted since the video recorder boom of the '80s, that making off-air recordings is practically impossible again. For the moment I have a 2nd-hand DVD recorder and a very very old satellite box with the necessary SCART output. But its days are numbered).

Here are some images of the event. Apologies for not being able to hold my phone straight on when I take a picture.

First off, from the opening scenes, the Creature just before coming to life, observed via some sort of security camera. In this telling of the story he's an artificially created life form (like Capek's original robots, I suppose). This removes a problem with versions that stick closer to the novel that I've noted before: given the advances in medical knowledge one expects the donor brain to retain its personalty and memories, which makes the creature not a tabula rasa but a terribly injured and abused man.

Victor Frankenstein

The Creature (sorry, I forgot to even crop this picture. Also yes, I have a very orange shade on the ceiling light! - the human eye and brain corrects what it sees, of course, and it's not so noticeable in real life).

And all the proceeding was, on screen, before the programme title finally came up:

Justine and Frankenstein's father (named "Alphonse" here, and played as a sort of Victorian or Edwardian bluff rich Northern Industrialist). Justine is rehearsing the wedding band, which is a useful way of introducing some uptempo songs for that 12,000 live audience.

I didn't take pictures of it, but there are sequences of David Harewood's Creature lost and abused in the streets which did remind me of a similar sequence in Branagh's film, but also the 2005 live remake of The Quatermass Experiment (the astronaut Carroon in the chemist's shop etc.) and the film Bad Boy Bubby.

Inappropriately grim, did i say? Victor destroys the Creature's mate, by strangulation whilst singing "Wires" by Athlete.

The Creature fantasises a dance sequence with his Mate, mourning their lost future.

The Creature has been pursuing his revenge, most of the main cast have died, the police have been investigating, there's been some misconstrued motives and gunplay. At the end, he wasn't directly responsible for all the deaths, but only the Creature is left standing.

i had assumed this, if not wiped from the archives, was inaccessible and unlikely to be seen again. It has a page on the BBCiPlayer but it's not available to view. However, a full version was uploaded to YouTube at the beginning of this year (just search for the programme title).

Of course, as it's not an official upload, there's no knowing how long it will be allowed to stay there...

* Edited to correct "office upload" to "official upload". I swear this computer does it on purpose to make me look stupid.

joulukuu 16, 2021, 8:57 pm

>167 housefulofpaper:

Reading back over this thread (wincing at my uncaught typos) I noticed that Alphonse WAS the name Mary Shelley gave to Victor's father. I suppose I had assumed it was something more Germanic.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 10, 2022, 12:19 am

Anyone else get slightly annoyed when a book has a different title on the title page to what's on the outside? I've just bought The Original Frankenstein. That's what it says on the dustjacket and on the spine when you take off the dustjacket. What is on the title page, though, and what came up when I copied the ISBN into LibraryThing, is Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus: The Original Two-Volume Novel of 1816-1817 from the Bodleian Library Manuscripts.

And I'm not sure that's at all an accurate description of the contents. It is two texts of Frankenstein: Shelley's completed draft, edited by Percy; and, another draft with all Percy's editing stripped out by Charles E. Robinson and his helpers. I haven't had time for a proper read-through of the introductory matter yet; but, as I understand it—and I'm ready to be corrected, I may have misunderstood—that first completed draft is not the same as the eventual 1818 edition. It's taking a big bit of effort to not start reading this—I have a pile of other stuff on the go and it's going to have to wait a few weeks. Anyway, I now have either three or four different versions of Frankenstein and I am quite excited about the matter.

That was delivered half an hour or so back; but at the same time I'd ordered the OU, hardback, 1818 Frankenstein, and that arrived day before yesterday. I'd been dithering over that one for ages and I'm still in two minds about it. I mean, the series looks sort of attractive and this one was quite cheap; but what the hell possessed them publish an edition of Frankenstein in white? And a rather dirty-looking shade of white, at that. If anyone publishes a really nice hardback 1818 this one will be in the charity shop before it has time to turn pale at its fate ...

tammikuu 9, 2022, 12:59 pm

>169 alaudacorax:

Don't know what I was thinking, ordering that OU hardback. I think I got carried away with the excitement of discovering the other ...

tammikuu 9, 2022, 1:03 pm

>169 alaudacorax:

When I say 'stripped out' I mean with Mary's original words put back in.

tammikuu 9, 2022, 1:37 pm

>169 alaudacorax:

I don't get annoyed but perhaps I should. The reason that I don't probably comes down to learning about book collecting and that historically the title on the cover was likely to be abbreviated for practical reasons and was at the whim of the owner and/or individual bookbinder. Not wanting to appear a naive newbie, I took this to heart.

That reasoning doesn't apply any more (and hasn't for over a century) but having an accurate title is all important for online searches and such like.

So, probably time to start getting annoyed...

As to the actual book in question, this is the one on the left of the picture in >153 housefulofpaper:.

As you say, it reprints the contents of two hand-written volumes containing the draft of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, with Percy's editorial changes indicated in italics.

A second section reprints the same text, minus Percy's interventions and restoring Mary's original words.

I haven't compared the text of the first section against the 1818 version as published (I have an OUP paperback, also in the picture in >153 housefulofpaper: of course). But I can confirm that the the opening pages are missing from the draft and Robinson substitutes the text from 1818. Walton's letters and some of chapter one are missing. Section two (i.e. the section that only prints Mary's words from the draft) opens with "servants had any request to make it {was} always through her intercession" - "was" is missing from the draft and supplied as editorial apparatus by Robinson in angle brackets (I used curly brackets because angle brackets are for HTML fun on here, of course).

The fact that the published text could be inserted with no editorial changes or footnotes strongly suggests no or very minor changes between the draft and the 1818 text. I think the intention of the book is to show the extent of Percy's involvement in the book; or to be precise to show how limited t was and that Mary should get her due for writing the book.

On the matter of attractive editions of the 1818 text,
I haven't yet heard which text Amaranthine Press are going to use. Jared from Centipede Press wrote in a recent newsletter that he'd like to see an edition using Bernie Wrightson's pen-and-ink illustrations in a better way than what's been available to date. They would fit either the 1818 or 1831 texts equally well.

heinäkuu 3, 2022, 5:53 pm

Aramanthine Press has announced their forthcoming edition of Frankenstein. Here's a link to theie website:

No mention, as far as I could see, of which text is going to be used.

heinäkuu 5, 2022, 6:00 am

>173 housefulofpaper:

Ah yes—the 'an arm and a leg' edition! Quite appropriate, really ...

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 10, 2022, 10:25 pm

Wow, ok, after having read The Necromancer, or The Tale of the Black Forest, Karl Friedrich Kahlert, Jeffrey Cass (Editor)---there is a 40–50-page section toward the last portion of the book, that reads suspiciously like many of the descriptions of "The Daemon" in Frankenstein. And that also have a 1st person narration that reads similarly to/of the monster when he describes what happens to him. I won't give away specifics the former book contains, because I don't want to ruin it for anyone that hasn't read it (yet). I was frankly startled.

Can I safely assume that perhaps Mary Shelley would have read this work, either in English or perhaps in the original German?

There sure are some startingly strong similarities. Tell me if I'm latching onto something or am completely wrong here.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 11, 2022, 8:19 am

>175 benbrainard8:

Published in 1794? Must be at least a possibility. Also, if she hadn't read it when younger, being one of the 'horrid novels' in Northanger Abbey which was published the year before Frankenstein might have brought it to Shelley's attention.

I own The Necromancer, or The Tale of the Black Forest but haven't read it yet.* I'm really neglecting my Gothic reading and studies--must be the warm weather and long days.

Edit: the * sentence somehow went AWOL when I posted ...

heinäkuu 11, 2022, 8:14 am

>176 alaudacorax:

It's surprisingly easy for stuff you've recently read to sneak into what you're writing. I notice it a lot but not necessarily at the time of writing. I don't have to worry about publishing, of course; how much did Mary Shelley have to worry about copyright and plagiarism in 1818?

heinäkuu 12, 2022, 6:49 pm

>175 benbrainard8:

Same with me as with alaudacorax: I own a copy but I haven't read it yet. In fact, I've found it difficult to get into any novels since lockdown.

I was intrigued by the question though. I've read quite a few accounts of the writing of Frankenstein but don't recall The Necromancer being mentioned as a possible source/inspiration in any of them. I had a look at the book's Wikipedia entry.

On reading it, I was reminded that the "Horrid Novels" were generally thought to be fictitious until well into the last century (so earlier commentators simply wouldn't have the book on their radar).

Reading on, it says that the (evidently rather loose) English translation imports a section from a 1786 work by Friedrich Schiller, Der Verbrecher aus verlorner Ehre, a "portion of the tale forming the robber Christian Wolf's confession". Is this the part of the book that Frankenstein seems to echo? If so, then it's still puzzling, because I don't recall any writer noting a connection between Frankenstein and anything by Schiller, either.

heinäkuu 13, 2022, 5:27 am

>178 housefulofpaper:

Do I remember that either Mary or Percy or both read German? Mary I think, but don't quote me on that.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 13, 2022, 5:45 am

>179 alaudacorax:

From Wikipedia - Sitting around a log fire at Byron's villa, the company amused themselves with German ghost stories ... - which suggests someone there read German. Now I'm painfully reminded again of how much I haven't read, including reading I supposedly have on the go at the moment!

Edited to add - I meant that I've been threatening for years (decades?) to read up all about the Romantics, and the Villa Diodati business, and so on, and I never seem to get any forrader.

heinäkuu 13, 2022, 8:25 pm

>180 alaudacorax:

According to the Frankenstein chapter of Nightmare: The Birth of Horror the German ghost stories were translated into French, with the title Fantasmagoriana ou Recueil d'Histories d'Apparitions, de Spectres, Revenans, etc.

That lead on to something I haven't actually read yet: there's a whole chapter on "Fantasmagoriana: The Cosmopolitan Gothic and Frankenstein" for me to look forward to in the second volume of The Cambridge History of the Gothic. From there I learn that the original of Fantasmagoriana was the first two volumes of a collection of tales by Johann Apel and Friedrich Schulze with the title Gespenserbuch ("ghost stories" or "book of spectres").

Going back to Schiller, I suspect that, in the 18th and into the 19th Century, translation into French would be a better bet for reaching an international audience than translation into English.

So the question becomes rather complicated: did Mary Shelley read Der Verbrecher aus verlorner Ehre in French or English (assuming she couldn't read it in German, which might not be the case), or did she read The Necromancer, or did she come across another plagiarised or coincidentally similar work or part of a work elsewhere, or did she come up with her own coincidentally similar version in Frankenstein? One thing I'd suggest is that prevalent philosphical and psychological ideas of the time would presumably have been used by different authors of the time, with the effect of giving their work a degree of similarity (for a rough comparison, think about how Freud's ideas permeate mid 20th Century literature, high and low).

heinäkuu 14, 2022, 3:04 am

>181 housefulofpaper:
or did she come up with her own coincidentally similar version in Frankenstein? One thing I'd suggest is that prevalent philosphical and psychological ideas of the time would presumably have been used by different authors of the time, with the effect of giving their work a degree of similarity (for a rough comparison, think about how Freud's ideas permeate mid 20th Century literature, high and low).


I find it fascinating how one author may have affected the imaginings of another, or influenced in some way the works of others. It wasn't until I read Melmoth the Wander that I became aware that the premise for Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray had been laid out in detail in Maturin's book, a book Wilde would have known well due to Maturin being an ancestor of his, and also demonstrated by Wilde's use of the name Melmoth when he went to live in France after his release from prison.

In terms of the puzzle you pose regarding Mary Shelley's knowledge of other Gothic sources, I would suggest that people of a certain class, social standing, and literary bent, would have had access to, and knowledge of, many of the works of the time. There were not so many works around at the time as there are today and people did not have their time gobbled up by television, Internet, social media, etc... Also, in their polite conversations about ghouls, vampires and demonic priests, they would want to be seen as being on top of their subject and to demonstrate the broadest of reading experience. They would have been only too keen to recommend books that their interlocutors had never heard of. It would have been the peak of social achievement.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 15, 2022, 11:27 am

Thank you all, this is very interesting reading/topic to me.

as to:

1786 work by Friedrich Schiller, Der Verbrecher aus verlorner Ehre, a "portion of the tale forming the robber Christian Wolf's confession". Is this the part of the book that Frankenstein seems to echo?

Yes, indeed this is the section, and I daresay after anyone (else) reads it, they'll probably agree. It's really interesting and intriguing to me that it could so easily flow into another author's work. Even though there are differences---there are also enough similarities. I'm surprised that haven't seen other mentions of it, e.g., in forward/note in any texts, editions of Frankenstein.

syyskuu 27, 2022, 6:50 pm

Yet another posh, fancy-pants edition of Frankenstein, this one from the Folio Society and available from today. They've been teasing it on social media for the past week, and there's plenty of discussion about it already on this site, in the Folio Society Devotees and Fine Press Forum groups.

The book in series with their limited edition Dracula of a few years ago, again illustrated by Angela Barrett (with, as has been noted on here, fewer than half the number of colour illustrations - but Frankenstein is a shorter book). What may be a disappointment - or a wallet-saving blessing in disguise - is that they have decided to use the 1831 text. It's £300 (if buying in the UK).

They have also recently published an edition of Henry James' The Turn of the Screw. It's a smallish book (5 3/4 inches by 8 3/4 inches). The boards are covered with textured paper printed with a design by the illustrator, Audrey Benjaminsen. There is also a limited edition fully bound in goatskin, blocked with the same design as the standard edition. A snip at £500!

I bought the standard edition (and that felt like an extravagance because I bought the old Limited Editions Club edition not so long ago, and have had the story in a Tartarus Press collection of James' ghost stories for ages).

And I forgot to mention, or was classing it as fantasy rather than gothic, (or perhaps I was trying not to think about it, so I wouldn't be foolish enough to buy it), their limited edition Gormenghast trilogy, illustrated by Dave McKean, which is £745.

syyskuu 27, 2022, 6:58 pm

Don't let me derail this thread - should anyone wish to continue it - with my talk of other works!

syyskuu 28, 2022, 10:57 am

£300? No. And I'm still deciding whether to take exception at their use of 'authoritative' as regards the 1831 text ...

syyskuu 28, 2022, 11:04 am

I've never really made up my mind what I feel about the Folio Society, either. I have a few, but I often find their designs garish. This one looks reasonably attractive to me. Not three hundred squids' worth, though.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 28, 2022, 9:00 pm

>184 housefulofpaper: oh, it's quite a beautiful edition. But at $450 USD, my spouse would strangle me if I bought it. Sigh, well I can at least view it online.

Suffice to say, the Folio editions are indeed quite handsome, if perhaps a wee bit garish to my own taste. I've been very happy with the many Penguin Classics and Oxford World's Classics editions of various books I've purchased these last couple of years.

On completely unrelated note, I've bought HD on-demand version of Neil Jordan's Interview with A Vampire film adaptation and look forward to rewatching it.

syyskuu 29, 2022, 8:33 am

>188 benbrainard8:

Hah! You've just reminded me. I was meaning to rewatch that once I'd finished reading the books. Now it's been so long since I read the books I'd have to reread before I could watch the film. Let me check ... yep, December 2020 I finished the third book. Oh well ...

syyskuu 29, 2022, 8:33 am

Where the hell does the time go?

syyskuu 30, 2022, 8:56 am

>184 housefulofpaper:
I really enjoyed the Gormenghast Trilogy and even bought the beautiful, illustrated edition that came out in 2011. It did not cost £745. I cannot remember what I paid, but I see it is currently selling on Amazon at £38 and a few pence. £745 blunts even my incurable bibliophilia and tsundoku.

syyskuu 30, 2022, 10:30 pm

>188 benbrainard8:
I'm not always on board with Folio's design choices and I certainly don't buy nearly as many as I did when I first found out about them. There are some titles that have been criticised as garish but look better "in the flesh". The average size of their books seems to have increased in recent years and they can look too busy in photos on their website. Although you rarely see the spiky, scratchy - what I think of as post-War style - black and white interior illustrations any more, or illustrations as idiosyncratic as Edward Bawden's linocuts for The Hound of the Baskervilles.

There's a transatlantic rivalry on this site of course, between Folio Society and Easton Press: a riot of different sizes, illustrated covers in various materials, or the placid regularity of full leather boards? (leaving to one side the question of how much editorial work either company puts into what's between those covers!)

Oxford University Press used to have its own bookshop (in Oxford, naturally) and as well as all the big academic publications it held stock of what looked like all the World's Classics books in print. Sad to say, I just looked it up and it closed in the first lockdown two years ago, and isn't reopening. Blackwells' main shop is still there, thank goodness, with its massive space below ground level like a bookish Bond villain's lair (officially, "the Norrington Room").

Actually I've recently had my love for 1970s & '80s Science Fiction paperbacks rekindled (by a couple of YouTube channels plus the brute fact of what's coming into my local Oxfam bookshop). I've even started buying back the books that I had to let go when I moved out of my parents' house.

I did buy the Frankenstein Limited Edition. Of course I did.

Here's the slip-case (covered in cloth according to the website, but a silky type of cloth).

And the cover. It's full leather.

Title page and frontispiece

One of the interior full-page illustrations

This has a new introduction by Richard Holmes (the Dracula LE reused John Banville's from an edition they did about 10 years earlier). I have only skimmed it, but he makes a case for the 1831 text being the definitive one, the grounds being that Mary Shelley "radically revised" the text alone (Percy had a hand in the 1818 version of course) and makes it darker in tone. "The idealistic young Frankenstein is subtly changed into a doomed and tortured figure", he says. The current popular opinion is that Frankenstein is the clear villain of the novel. Obviously our sympathies are with the creature but I don't think Mary saw it as simple and clear cut as that (Victor strikes me as a portrait of Percy).

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 1, 2022, 6:48 pm

>192 housefulofpaper: thank you very much, this is a great read, and the pictures from you edition are remarkable--the illustrations remind me of a wonderfully drawn graphic novel.

Sigh, well for me, it mostly about affordability. If I'd the money to spend---I'm sure I'd be in serious trouble.

My sister said that when family estate distribution comes up, I get to have the Great Books of the Western World: 54 Volume Set, but I'll have to go on a 30–40-hour drive (Seattle to state of Michigan), suffice to say, it's worth it, eh?

The Folio website here in U.S. is very nice, and I great enjoy perusing it.

When we visited Oxfordshire in June 2019, I do remember walking through what I thought was one of the largest, interesting, and varied bookstores I'd ever seen in my life, is this it below?

It must be the book palace you're describing above, tell me if I'm missing something.

Though it was a daytrip, greatly enjoyed it, managed to go see the Bodleian library, got this one book from it, I enjoy reviewing, "Bodleian Library Treasures", by David Vaisey.

Sigh, I wish America had more of a "book culture". We seem to struggle there...

lokakuu 2, 2022, 7:28 pm

>194 housefulofpaper:
Many thanks for the kind words. Yes, that's the bookshop I was referring to. It's easy to spend the best part of a day in there, just browsing the shelves. Apparently the Norrington Room extends out beneath the grounds of one of the Oxford Colleges.

I'm not sure that the UK has more of a book culture than the US. This is a much smaller and more densely-populated country; perhaps it's simply that bookish places are simply closer together. I read about places like the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Harry Ransom Center at one end of the spectrum, and see YouTubers talking about little free libraries (which I heard of in the UK, but I don't think I've seen one) at the other.

I did the tour back in the late '90s - the Divinity School, the Convocation House, and then we were allowed to just poke our heads into Duke Humphrey's Library. I have an earlier "treasures of the Library" type book I bought around that time, The Bodleian Library and its Treasures.

I hadn't been more than vaguely aware of The Great Books of the Western World until just a couple of days ago. A YouTube recommendation turned out to be somebody talking about recently acquiring that same 54-volume set. He was more than happy with the set, not just the texts but the quality of the typesetting and binding and so forth. I pretty much set out to give myself the "Liberal Education" offered by the selection of texts in the Great Books, with the purchases I made and the books I was reading from my mid-20s. I thought I would have made better progress by now, but I get too distracted following the by-ways and overgrown trails of literature.

lokakuu 2, 2022, 7:54 pm

I also purchased these booklets from the Bodleian. They might be reprints, but they state that they were published in the '50s and '50s. They look like they date back from that time (photographic reproductions on shiny coated paper, card covers, sown rather than stapled or glued). They also cover some nicely obscure if not esoteric subject matter.

(I need to get something designed to hold books open, so I don't have to improvise with coins or CDs)

lokakuu 3, 2022, 7:58 am

>194 housefulofpaper: - I thought I would have made better progress by now, but I get too distracted following the by-ways and overgrown trails of literature.

The LibraryThingers' lament ...

lokakuu 9, 2022, 12:46 am

Thank you, the reads and pictures above are great. I'm really glad we were able to make it to Oxfordshire. Ironically, I was visiting a former co-worker who goes there for his PhD. He gave us a guided tour.

Prior I'd never (even) heard of the Bodleian library. And visiting Blackwell's was just the icing on the cake.

Sigh, as you all know, there will never be enough time to read everything we'd like. Heh, but we can enjoy the journeys.

Speaking of new trails, I've been reading Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, it's great read. Looking forward to the new Amazon show that has David Tennant in it, hope it lives up to the book.

marraskuu 4, 2022, 10:55 am

Here is the American Folio website on the new Frankenstein edition, note they've nearly sold out:

so jealous..... :(

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 24, 2022, 10:24 am

Greetings and merry holiday season to you all.

I rewatched Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Director Kenneth Branagh's treatment of the book, on Amazon Prime yesterday, 12/23.

I admire sections of it, even if it portrayed portions of the book a bit incorrectly. It was interesting watching British/English actors playing the roles next to American actors: Aidan Quinn as ship captain Walton, Tom Hulce as Clerval, and of Robert De Niro as the monster/"daemon". Pleasant to see Ian Holm, Branagh, Helena Bonham Carter, and a very surprising role by John Cleese--I almost didn't recognize him.

from the web/WIKI: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a 1994 science fiction horror film directed by Kenneth Branagh who also stars as Victor Frankenstein, with Robert De Niro portraying Frankenstein's monster, and co-stars Tom Hulce, Helena Bonham Carter, Ian Holm, John Cleese, Richard Briers and Aidan Quinn. Considered the most faithful film adaptation of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, despite several differences and additions in plot from the novel, the film follows a medical student named Victor Frankenstein who creates new life in the form of a monster composed of various corpses' body parts.


The pace of the film, ahem------ some portions are bit "fast" for me (how "Hollywoody"). Most critical reviews noticed that too, calling it "manic".

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 24, 2022, 9:00 pm

Merry Christmas, everyone.

I watched the film again fairly recently, and even more recently gave Francis Ford Coppola's commentary track to his Dracula another listen. Coppola was originally going to direct Frankenstein after Dracula, but dropped out. I notice that Coppola and James V Hart, who wrote the screenplay for Dracula, are both listed as producers of Frankenstein.

Branagh had a similar US/UK main cast for Much Ado About Nothing the previous year (and the films share some cast members - were they in Branagh's theatre company, I wonder? He had his own Shakespearean company at the time, like a Victorian Actor-Manager). Oh, and Keanu Reeves, fresh from Dracula, is in it too.

There's an interview with Frank Darabont which I found online (he wrote the screenplay) where he calls Frankenstein something like "the worst film of my best script". He felt the realisation lacked all subtlety. I can only assume Branagh was aiming for something Romantic and (Percy) Shelleyan.

joulukuu 24, 2022, 8:55 pm

Merry Christmas, Joyful Mithrasmas!

I haven't seen that Frankenstein... hmm, I don't even have it.

I think I'm happy to stay visually with the version we saw in Penny Dreadful--the young Treadwell as Frankenstein and Kinnear as the Monster.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 25, 2022, 7:33 am

>199 benbrainard8:

I remember thinking it one of the best bits of acting I've seen Cleese doing.

Edited to add, Now I come to think of it, I saw him do a quite reasonable turn a couple of nights ago in, I think it was The Day the Earth Stood Still, ... yes, with Keanu Reeves playing Michael Rennie. He seems to have developed the ability to subdue the slightly manic John Cleese persona.

joulukuu 25, 2022, 7:41 am

>201 LolaWalser:

'Mithrasmas', I like that. You've just brought to mind a double irony that hit me. Somewhere in the jumble of the last few days I came upon a bit of 'irony' by, I'm fairly sure, C. S. Lewis, where he was quoting some woman he'd overheard complaining how religion was pushing in everywhere these days and was now spoiling Christmas. And I'm there thinking, 'Hang on Lewis, Christmas is a hell of a lot older than your religion and her version is probably nearer the original'. Not to put a sour note on proceedings.

joulukuu 25, 2022, 11:50 pm

>203 alaudacorax:

Judging by the news of diminishing baptised belief in yon lands of yourn, Christmas will revert to being a pagan holiday any minute now.

joulukuu 26, 2022, 6:48 am

>204 LolaWalser:

Apropos of nothing, I know one confirmed atheist who starts getting excited about Xmas somewhere around the end of August; on facebook counting the days and posting stills from Elf.

huhtikuu 9, 6:46 pm

Apparently the Puffin clothbound edition of Frankenstein (yes, that's Puffin as in Penguin Books' children's imprint) used the 1818 text.

So if anyone is still looking for an edition that's a bit fancier than the Penguin or Oxford paperbacks, this one might be worth considering (Caveat - the look inside feature on Amazon takes to an entirely different edition, so I haven't been able to verify for myself which text is used).

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 11, 8:23 am

>206 housefulofpaper:

When I first read >206 housefulofpaper: I realised that I've come dangerously close to becoming a collector of Frankenstein editions. I can feel a compulsion there, "Nice hardback? Buy it!" Fortunately, the cover design puts me off—I don't look at it and think 'Frankenstein's creature'; I look at it and think 'Herman Munster'.

huhtikuu 11, 8:26 am

>207 alaudacorax:

To my mind the 'Dracula' looks much nicer. It still has a bit of a children's imprint feel to it, though.

huhtikuu 11, 8:40 am

>208 alaudacorax:

Whoa! That's not Stoker's text.

My name is Jonathan Harker. I am a lawyer and I live in London. About seven years ago, some strange and terrible things happened to me.

Let me check 'Frankenstein'. That seems to stick to the text. Beware of the 'Dracula', though.

huhtikuu 11, 8:59 am

>209 alaudacorax:

Hmm ... a bit confused ... going to post over on the Dracula thread.

huhtikuu 13, 12:08 pm

Tämä käyttäjä on poistettu roskaamisen vuoksi.

huhtikuu 13, 3:38 pm

>207 alaudacorax:
Comments on the cover design noted, but I did try to find an actual copy of the Puffin Clothbound Frankenstein to examine. I didn't find one, but this is where the information that it reprints the 1818 edition came from (from 27:28)

I don't, by the way, share Mr Andrews' opinion of Percy Shelley's influence on the text - he acted as editor, yes, and it was written in the milieu of Shelley and Byron et al's discoursing on science, politics, etc. But not the joint effort he suggests that the novel was here.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 14, 3:25 am

>212 housefulofpaper:

And now I've gone all nostalgic and homesick. I haven't sat and listened to that accent in decades. I've never been very good at accents, but I suspect it comes from somewhere near Llanelli—I'm probably out by miles and miles.

Sadly, I still haven't done enough reading to be able to judge his comments on Percy Shelley's possible input.

ETA - Thanks for the link.

huhtikuu 14, 3:41 am

>212 housefulofpaper:, >213 alaudacorax:

Interesting on Nigel Kneale, too. It's never occurred to me actually read Kneale. This chap really sells him.

huhtikuu 14, 3:56 am

>214 alaudacorax:

Actually, he's interesting on a lot of authors. I subscribed. Not that I need more stuff in my TBR piles (in fact, I've read a lot of the stuff, but so long ago as to have pretty much forgotten almost everything but the bare fact of having read them).

huhtikuu 14, 4:31 am

>215 alaudacorax:

Watching it again.

"You may know Solaris from the Tarkovsky film—or the Steven Soderbergh film, God forbid ..."

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 15, 3:17 pm

>212 housefulofpaper: Thank you very much for posting this link this, I've enjoyed it greatly.

Noting to my own chagrin that I've never read, nor have a copy of H.G. Wells The Time Machine. But I do have The Invisible Man and The Island of Dr. Moreau, so guess I'll start with these two first.

I agree with points above about Percy Shelley's influence on the Frankenstein text. I seem him as editor. And I'm glad that I read the 1818 text/version.

huhtikuu 16, 8:43 am

Why would you want to collect multiple imprints or editions of Frankenstein?

Well, logically, you might want three—the 1818, the 1831, and Shelley’s original draft is now available. Okay, so you might have got hold of one or more paperbacks, and it is a classic, one of the great novels, so you might want to replace them with nice-looking hardback copies. So you might end up with more than three.

But you've got them—there is no logic in buying any more copies.

What if you spot a hardback edition that’s nicer than the one you have?

Well ... in that case I suppose it is excusable to buy it. It is one of the great novels, of course.

What if you spot another really nice copy?

Um … well … er … have you spotted one?

Not at the moment, no.

Well shut up then.

What if you spot a nice hardback that you don’t really like that much?

Now you are just being silly.

It’s an 1818.

Oh …

… No! Why the hell would you buy an edition you don’t particularly like?

I didn’t! I couldn’t help having a browse online, though, just to see if there have been any more nice hardbacks published since I last looked.

Oh, by all the gods …

… why would you want to collect multiple imprints or editions of Frankenstein?

You know you’re going round in circles, right?

One of us is ...

huhtikuu 16, 10:10 am

>213 alaudacorax:
You've made me wonder what accents I would want to hear again. It's my grandparents' rural Oxfordshire accents, of course.

>214 alaudacorax:
I've read the novelisation of the final Quatermass story, and I've got (but have yet to read) the recent reissue of Tomato Cain. I do remember around the turn of the '70\s/'80s, when I started to spend all my pocket money in W. H. Smith's Science Fiction section, that the Arrow reprints of the first three Quatermass teleplays were a permanent fixture on the shelves. Something put me off buying them though. I can only speculate that it was because they were teleplays*, or because the fact that they were already 20-30 years old by then made them seem impossibly ancient (remembering the rule of thumb that TV SF was about two decades behind written SF).

* An odd decision on my part, if true. The form was legitimate enough for us to study a 1960s Play for Today or somesuch in school English lessons (a kitchen-sink thing about the harsh reality of ballroom dancing competitions).

huhtikuu 16, 10:26 am

>217 benbrainard8:
I read The Time Machine, probably just before I reached my teens, in a copy borrowed from the school library. I may have felt it was a second-best option to more recent SF, or that I ought to read it as a foundational SF text (like the previous message, I can only try to recontruct how I was thinking back then, I cannot actually remember it). I think I had seen the George Pal film version at least once on TV by then.

I now have quite a lot (but by no means all!) of Wells' fiction, mostly in the Penguin Classics editions that were published in the early part of this century (and, gosh, doesn't it seem odd being able to type that!). I have to confess most of them are still to be read, and The Invisible Man is one of them. Funnily enough, I found that I was more emotionally attached to my 1970s Pan paperback of The War of the Worlds - the tie-in edition to Jeff Wayne's musical version! - than the new edition with all the editorial and scholarly paraphenalia.

huhtikuu 16, 10:38 am

>218 alaudacorax:
Indeed. You can make an argument for collectiing different editions because (a) that's what you've decided to collect, (maybe it's about examples of "the art of the book" or tracking publishing styles through the decades, or whatever: it's about more than having access to the text; (b) there might be different texts/variant supplementry materials that are not all in one title; you want different editions for different reasons - the 1970s The War of the Worlds for sentimental reasons plus the Penguin Classics for the authoritative text plus notes plus the old US hardback with the Edward Gorey cover if it ever came within your grasp, etc.There could also be Fear of Missing Out at work.

But there was another impulse that I noticed in myself: if I had, say, all of the Sherlock Holmes stories in one or a few paperbacks, or all Poe's fiction, they didn't seem enough on my shelves. They didn't honour the work/the author sufficently. It needed something weightier. I realise that psychologically this impluse is quite close to creating a shrine...

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 2, 3:44 pm

M. R. James is an author for whom I felt there wasn't a really good one-volume edition. The canon of ghost stories is set, true enough - the titles in the four short story collections published in his lifetime, plus the couple of late stories added to the Collected edition.

Howevr, there's a penumbra of related works that are collected in some but not all editions that otherwise aim to be scholarly and/or comprehensive: forwards and newspaper articles; drafts of uncompleted stories; the children's story The Five Jars; medieval ghost stories (not by James, but collected by him from medieval manuscripts. S. T. Joshi includes these (translated out of the Latin by other hands) in the two-volumes Penguin Classics edition); spooky passages excerpted from Eton and Kings and his travel guides to English counties.

I had suspected that the Ash Tree Press collection A Pleasing Terror might well be that definitive edition, but had assumed I would never even see a copy of the book. However, somebody put photos of the table of contents up online - and - newsflash! on looking for the publication date online, TIL that there's a Kindle edition available for £8.00.

The book omits the 12 medieval ghost stories and may not have the most comprehensive unfinished story fragments, as discovered by Rosemary Pardoe in the last 20 or so years. I'd still love to own an original hardback edition of the book, though.

The next best edition might be Curious Warnings even though this his also now reached silly money on the second-hand market, and is not as nice an edition. The cover is black and white printed on oxblood-red fake leather, and just looks unpleasant to my eyes. Les Edwards' interior illustrations are reproduced in muddy black and white. Editor Stephen Jones has repunctuated the text - James was pretty cavalier with "run-on paragraphs, multiple viewpoints, sequential dialogue exchanges", etc. and although Jones has done nothing more than a normal copyediting job, the presentation of the text on the page, with a lot more white space, does have a different "feel" to the dense slabs of paragraphing in other editions.

So, I've got two "selected" Folio Sociey editions - each with a different selection of stories. Should I keep both? Yes, because one has an introduction by Nigel Kneale and illustrations by Charles Keeping, whilst the other has the original illustrations prepared by James' friend James McBryde for the first edition of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. I also have one Collected edition from Folio, illustrated of course, and the Oxford Collected edited by Darryl Jones (in hardback). I've got the previously mentioned Curious Warnings. In paperback, I have the two-volume Penguin Classics (the only one with the 12 Medieval Ghost Stories) and the earlier Oxford Classics selected stories (with, to my mind, the best notes, by Michael Cox).

Even if I could obtain a copy of A Pleasing Terror, I would still want the two Folio, and the Oxford "selected stories" for the other contents, and the Penguin volumes for the Medieval ghost stories, if nothing else. And maybe keep Curious Warnings for the story fragments, if I don't have them through my subscription to Ghosts and Scholars (where Rosemary Pardoe would have first published them).

Edited because, quite honestly, I've read back over it and I think most of it must have been written in my sleep.

huhtikuu 17, 6:49 am

>221 housefulofpaper: - I realise that psychologically this impluse is quite close to creating a shrine...

That's an interesting point. It hadn't occurred to me and I'm slightly taken aback. I've reached the stage where I have attractive hardback versions of most of my favourite writers. Lately, though, I've noticed a disconcerting tendency to, when I want to read a story, take down some dog-eared paperback rather than risk smudging or otherwise wearing my 'nice' copy. Which rather defeats the object of ownership—or, at least, what I've told myself is the object of ownership—the pleasure of having a quality edition to read. Can't quite get my head around that at the moment and I'll have to think about it a while ...

huhtikuu 17, 6:54 am

>222 housefulofpaper:

My impulse toward owning really complete 'completes' is much more easily explained, though. I think I've a touch of OCD in my make-up.

huhtikuu 17, 7:06 am

>223 alaudacorax:

Do you know, the more I think about that the more it makes sense. I'm sure there is an element of expressing reverence towards a favourite author.

heinäkuu 15, 11:33 am

Tämä käyttäjä on poistettu roskaamisen vuoksi.

syyskuu 6, 7:44 pm

It feels as if Big Tech's algorithms are pushing me to re-read Frankenstein.

Firstly, this video essay appeared in my YouTube recommendations:

It puts forward the suggestion that the founder of the Illuminati, Adam Weishaupt, was a strong inspiration for Victor Frankenstein, and other aspects of the story (such as the locations - Ingolstadt, the brief section that moves the action to the coast of Ireland) are comments on violence and uprisings that followed or were inspired by the French Revolution.

Then a clip from 1963, of Alan Whicker examining and commenting on three 18th Century Swiss automata, turned up unannounced on my Facebook newsfeed. If you have a Facebook account and search for BBC Archive I presume you'll be able to see the same clip.

Thirdly (and this I admit must be down to sheer chance) a former work colleague posted some holiday photos from Chamonix.

syyskuu 7, 3:02 am

>227 housefulofpaper:
You cannot deny the signs. Resistance is futile.

lokakuu 1, 3:21 pm

It is October 1st gang, time to get on that re-read!

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 1, 9:14 pm

Ok, I'm definitely, in. I'll be re-reading the Frankenstein, Oxford World's Classics, 1818 Text.

Rebecca can wait.

And Caleb Williams by William Godwin, which I've decided is not a Gothic novel---no way, not by any stretch of the imagination, though he happens to be Mary Shelley's father. Caleb Williams can wait 'til mid-Oct-November.

lokakuu 2, 3:35 pm

I need a few days to finish The Shadow of the Wind and The Drowned World. Then I'll be rereading the 1831 text in the Folio Society Limited Edition.

lokakuu 16, 6:53 pm

I've made a start on Frankenstein - just about. As noted in >231 housefulofpaper:, this is the edition of the 1831 text that the Folio Society published as a limited edition last year. I've read the introduction by biographer Richard Holmes, and the Mary Shelley's Author's Introduction.

Holmes discusses the creation of the novel, covering a lot of the points we looked at a couple of years ago. One thing that I don't remember coming up is that there was a bitterly argued "Vitalism debate" - was the fundamental nature of life essentially material, or was there a non-material "vital spark" required in addition (and then, if yes, does it come from God?). Two surgeons were at the forefront of the debate, and the one arguing for the materialist position, was the Shelley's own doctor.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 29, 5:19 pm

I've just finished re-reading Frankenstein, Oxford World's Classics, 1818 Text., and am pondering the difference between it and the 1831 version.

This online video below, which only mentions the differences briefly, may seem a bit amateurish, but it gives some nods to modern films that throw similar topics at us. Noting esp. the movie Ex Machina (2014), which I greatly enjoyed---it's quite prescient.

There are many things to read online and to watch on U-Tube, so I'll take some time.

From what I've learned about her own life. Mary Shelley's work is rather heart wrenching. And there are no sympathetic characters in it really----except for perhaps the innocents killed around Frankenstein.

I'd greatly appreciate if anyone can illustrate for me the primary differences between the two texts. I know there are a lot of items to read about there. Brief synapses will do?!

lokakuu 29, 7:38 pm

>233 benbrainard8:

I copied out Marilyn Butler's list of differences between the two texts from her Oxford World's Classics edition of the 1818 Frankenstein in >150 housefulofpaper:.

In his introduction to the Folio Society edition, Richard Holmes says that the 1831 edition is "longer and darker in tone"; it has "a sense of dark mystery and growing psychological unease". "There are exotic digressions, like safie's Turkish adventure; or Frankenstein's picturesque boat trip down the Rhine with his great friend Henry Clerval."

In the 1831 text, Victor and Elizabeth are not blood-relations. She is the daughter of a Milanese nobleman who is presumed dead or imprisoned in the cause of Italian independence, and consequently adopted into the Frankenstein family.