This was supposed to be the original 1818 version of the book, but it isn’t. It’s a bizarre copy - there are no publishing notes at all. It’s missing the Preface. I compared the first few chapters to an online version of the 1818 book and I noticed differences in Letter 3 where a whole paragraph was added. I would need to check the 1831 version to see if that is what this book is. I should return it but it was $4 and not worth the effort.
This book was one of the biggest surprises for me! Absolutely NOTHING what I expected. When someone says word "Frankenstein", you think about a lab, a mad proffesor, some lightning buzzing into the bolts inside monster's head. Drop all this imagination! This classical book had nothing of it! :O Maybe that's why I was so amazed. If I didn't have all those expectations, maybe my rating would be lower, but now, damn, I liked it a lot! Since I have so much to say, I'll just drop it into a list, of good and bad things :)
1) It's awesome that Amazon is giving free ebooks for classical literature like this! Thanks, Amazon! And what a surprise it was for me, that this Kindle edition is the real original "Frankenstein", but audiobook narrated by George Guidhall is of a later edition (which was edited by the author herself, when her book became famous). So reading those two books where more like reading two separate books for me - one ebook and one audiobook, with quite a lot of changes, even so major as who Elizabeth was to Victor - a real cousin, or just a girl taken from street! :O 2) As I said, I have expected this book to be absolutely different! A horror story, about making a man from different body parts. Actually this only took a few pages of the book. All the book was Victor's thoughts about what he had done, creatures thoughts about humankind, and 3) a lot a lot A LOT of words misery, wretchedness and countenance :D My oh my, I have never read so many same QQing thoughts in my life! :D This book could be a good 5 star if Victor's thoughts weren't so TERRIBLY repetitive. He said he feels misery/is miserable/life's misery at least 135 times (just did a search in my Kindle). I won't even count other of his cryings. I should be ashamed of making fun of his inner tortures. Victor Frankenstein had a really difficult life, but I'm not if it was a good idea by the author to write it in such a repetitive way! but on the other hand - it was an absolutely different style from the books I usually read, so also a good thing. 4) Never ever don't you dear call a man-made-man a "Frankenstein"! He didn't have a name! Frankenstein was his creator. But the creature was just that - a creature. And what a surprise he was! All my life I thought of Frankenstein's creature to be a mindless monster, with bolts in his head, making ugly sounds and walking like a zombie. That's what those movies show! But this was such a mistake of mine! :O Creature was one of the most intelligent characters in the story! His ability to deduct, to learn, to feel... he was amazing! The story creature told about his first year of life was so heartgripping that I felt so fond of him, so sorry for him... Sadly later he changed.. Loniness makes people (and other creatures) do bad things... :( But still.. he was not a mindless zombie. He was extremely sensitive being.. With emotions on extremities - both good and bad. But wouldn't we be like that, if we didn't have parents and comfort of other people to learn from?
I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to read some intricate English language, but who has enough patience to suffer though all characters' repetitive sufferings (pun intended).
This book is emotional, but not in a romantic way. It makes You think about creators responsibility against the creation. And most of all, it shows how Your decisions can change Your whole life!
If you're reading this review, you only have one question. You're not looking for a book review, you already know it's a classic. You already know this is the most original, and one of the best, and best-written horror stories in literature. You may or may not like the story, but that's a matter of personal taste. A lot of people don't like Shakespeare, but no one questions whether he was a good writer or not. If you don't like the writing style, it's because you aren't familiar with the English of this period. Nearly eighty years before Stoker's "Dracula" ( an idea stolen from Polidori's "The Vampyre", which was an idea stolen from LeFanu's "Carmilla"), this most-original horror masterpiece was born. So, your only question is, "Is this really the uncensored 1818 version? Because I've only seen one other verified version, and it's over twenty dollars in paperback. All the others claiming to be the 1818 version have been disproved." YES, as far as I can tell, it is. The only preface is Shelley's own original. There is no introduction, no commentary or editorial credits whatsoever. There are no illustrations, and the spelling and language have not been edited. Have a good thesaurus handy. So, here it is, the author's original script, no frills, for a bargain price. Which is exactly what I was looking for.
I hated this book in high school and never imagined I'd reread it voluntarily, but here we are. And I actually didn't hate it this time! Funny how these things work out, huh? I've read some articles about this book as well, and they talk about how this book is representative of everything from abandonment and isolation to dysfunctional father-son relationships to queerness, and honestly, if my English teacher had gone into more depth about that kind of stuff, I might have been more interested the first time around.
Anyway, I definitely sympathized with the monster. He was so utterly and completely alone. He spent years literally alone, living in sheds and caves and out in the wilderness, on the outside of humanity looking in. He was abandoned and isolated and treated horribly by everyone. Even his own creator did nothing but insult and shun him. The poor guy didn't even have a name, and that's just really sad.
But Victor... even though his actions were awful, I sometimes fell into the trap of wanting to sympathize with him too, even though I knew I shouldn't, which I think is the sign of a well-written character. He made a mistake---a horrible mistake born of obsessive fervor and arrogance, but a mistake nonetheless. Haven't you ever done something and then worried that someone would to find out or that something bad would come of it, even if it was just sneaking a cookie before dinner as a kid? Now imagine that feeling x100. And I can understand why he was hesitant to create another---he didn't want to make the same mistake twice. So I think his feelings of despair and horror and guilt and grief made sense, if nothing else.
The way I see it, neither character is entirely free from blame---the monster murdered innocents, and nothing can excuse that---but Victor never should have created the monster in the first place if he was going to abandon him. It was essentially like someone having a child and then neglecting them. Once the monster was alive, it was Victor's responsibility to care for him, and he failed entirely at that. He was selfish. I think I could have forgiven the mistake of making the monster in the first place if Victor had just taken responsibility and cared for him. Probably all the bad things could've been avoided if he'd done that. The creation wasn't "born" a monster; it was the way he was treated that made him a monster.
Here's another thought I had. Victor didn't want to create a mate because he didn't know if she'd turn out to be even more dangerous, right? But people have babies every day without knowing what they'll be like when they grow up. Some people do become murderers. And the monster in the book only became one because he had no love or companionship. So by that logic, Victor probably should have just taken his chances and created a mate.
This book also made me ponder about souls---did the monster have a soul?---and what it really means for a thing to have life, but I won't get into that.
But, as is the case with most of the classics I've read so far, the problem I had with this book was that it had so many words but so little meat. (Kind of like this review, to be honest. I don't know how it got so long.) Everyone was so long-winded. There would be pages and pages about the despair a single character felt over a single thing that happened even though a couple short sentences could've expressed it just as well.
Also, I was surprised to find the depictions I've seen of Frankenstein in art/movies/media (bolts in his neck, criss-cross stitches everywhere, usually greenish skin and a flat head, walks in a lurching way) isn't at all how he was described in the book. No bolts, no stitches, no flat head. And he doesn't lurch; he's larger than the average human, but his limbs are in proportion, and he's described as being agile and fast. The way I envision it (which is just my interpretation, not right or wrong), the reason he's so horrifying isn't because he's so non-human but rather because he does look human, but... off. I like this artwork (link can found in my review on my blog or Goodreads) best of all the ones I've seen. He looks almost beautiful, but he's just kind of tipped the scales into creepy and unnatural.
So, overall, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. The writing was long-winded, but the story itself was thought-provoking.
*Note: The edition I read is the Kaplan SAT one. I'm not aware if there are any differences among different editions (other than the fact that mine had a bunch of SAT words with definitions).*
Rating: 3 Stars
Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight (link in profile)