This is my second read of Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus." I was much younger when I first read it. I still marvel that Mary Shelley was only 19This is my second read of Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus." I was much younger when I first read it. I still marvel that Mary Shelley was only 19 when she wrote it. She was ahead of her time in dreaming up the mad scientist, Victor Frankenstein. He plays God and creates the "abhorred monster"/"wretched devil" - then irresponsibly abandons his creation in disgust and returns to his wealthy, idyllic life. His actions come back to haunt him and result in the destruction of all he loves.
Frankly, I found the monster a little more sympathetic character than his creator. Victor Frankenstein never truly seemed sorry for his actions. In fact, he appeared whiny, fragile and spoiled as he traveled throughout Europe enjoying nature to escape his "woes." He even lets an innocent woman hang rather than attempt to reveal the true murderer and thus his culpability.
The unnamed monster has to be one of the most articulate in literature (he uses "thee" and "thou"). In fact, the monster reads and learns from Paradise Lost, Plutarch's Lives, and The Sorrows of Young Werther - books he finds lost in the woods. (Perhaps if I misplace leather bound editions of these books somewhere for my kids to discover, they'll be inspired to read them?)...more
This was my second time through this book - this time as an audio book. The narrator, Scott Brick, was excellent. I listened to it while traveling witThis was my second time through this book - this time as an audio book. The narrator, Scott Brick, was excellent. I listened to it while traveling with my 8 year old son and 11 year old daughter who were interested because of the movie. The movie, however, only shares the same title and draws ideas from the book (the three laws of robotics and a character or two). The book is 9 short stories told to a reporter by Dr. Susan Calven, the chief robopsychologist at U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc. Chapter 3 "Reason" is one of my favorites. I particularly liked the characters of Powell and Donovan whose job it was to test and work out the bugs in the new robots. They did this with humor, sarcasm, and creativity while facing the risk of losing their jobs and their lives. Most of the stories are logic puzzles which made for fun discussion with my children. I would have ranked it a 4.5, but this is not an option in the ranking system. I think this is a must-read and it is still is influencing science fiction today....more
I discovered this book on the reading list 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. This historical fiction, published first in Italian in 1982 (Se noI discovered this book on the reading list 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. This historical fiction, published first in Italian in 1982 (Se non ora, quando?), draws on the life experiences of the author, an Auschwitz-survivor, conversations he had with others like his main character Mendel, and written first-hand accounts. Levi does an excellent job of creating believable characters and recreating these less-discussed events of World War II.
The story is told through the eyes of Mendel Nachmanovich Dajcher, a Jewish watchmender. The Germans have murdered his wife and completely destroyed his village. A member of the Red Army, he becomes separated from his regiment during a battle. The book begins here and follows Mendel’s two-year odyssey (July 1943 – August 1945) as a member of the rag-tag partisan movement made up of Jews, Russians, Lithuanians, Poles and many others. Mendel largely travels with a group of Jewish resistance fighters called Gedalists, named after their fictional leader Gedaleh. They wander on foot (nearly 2,000 kilometers) across Poland, into a defeated Germany, and finally to Italy with dreams of helping create a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The book ends on Tuesday, August 7, 1945 with the news of the first atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima.
The eastern European countryside has been ravaged by nearly five years of war. Small groups of people wander the marshes and forests. These are people both scattered and thrown together by the war. Some are separated from their regiments like Mendel and others are civilian survivors of brutal German massacres and imprisonments. Group membership is fluid and shifts based on the circumstances. Death is commonplace. Their day-to-day lives are consumed with survival in harsh conditions (freezing temperatures, deep snow, rain, scarce food, makeshift camps), avoiding being captured and brutally killed by the ”hunters of men,” and sabotaging the Germans (as opportunities present themselves or orders are received). In the midst of these activities, Primo Levi skillfully shows us the humanity of these war-scarred people as they quietly grieve the deaths of wives, children, and friends, as well as the destruction of their homes. He also captures the war's impact on personal relationships as a result of changing national, political relationships.
This excerpt summarizes the despair of the Jews as they face the future after the war: "For the Russians, a longing for home was not an unreasonable hope, even probable: a yearning to go back, a call. For the Jews, the regret for their houses was not a hope but a despair, buried till then under more urgent and serious sorrows, but latent always. Their homes no longer existed: they had been swept away, burned by the war or by slaughter, bloodied by squads of hunters of men; tomb houses, of which it was best not to think, houses of ashes. Why go on living, why fight? For what house, what country, what future?" (Chapter 5)...more