What a story, what a story indeed. The original puts to shame all hideous interpretations of its tragic solemnity and deep meaning. Banish all images...moreWhat a story, what a story indeed. The original puts to shame all hideous interpretations of its tragic solemnity and deep meaning. Banish all images of life-giving lightning bolts, mad scientists and pygmy assistants, castles and dungeons, and a monster of unintelligent cruelty. Mary Shelley's is the real story, of the man Victor Frankenstein, who set out to be God and came away realizing such pursuits of power and science are woefully unworthy. This is real horror -- the loss of loved ones, the intense pain of guilt, the vision of fateful injustice and death.
The writing carries one breathlessly to a growing climax of confrontation and loss. The frame of a seaman's letters offers an unexpected distance and appropriate frame to the tale. The monster himself speaks fluidly and rationally: He is not a mindless brute so portrayed by popular standards. Victor's windy words bring a sense of other-worldliness to his melancholy narrative. That Shelley was a mere 17 years of age when she began this work gives hope to the youngest author of aspiration.
Banish the shallow terror of film and enter the tender sadness of a pained and longing being and his noble, wretched creator.(less)
Somehow I was blessed not to have known the conclusion of this story before I set out reading it with my sister, completely innocent of its meanings a...moreSomehow I was blessed not to have known the conclusion of this story before I set out reading it with my sister, completely innocent of its meanings and greatness. Now, of course, I know how transcending it is in skill and theme.
It is a social commentary on the French Revolution. We see the slow and roiling growth of a oppressed people, bursting into a wave of Terror, where our heroes and heroines find themselves hopelessly captured. The analysis of the complexity of the morality of the French Revolution is fair and enlightening: Dickens sees the inevitability of the uprising, knows it is a judgement on the wicked crimes of the aristocracy, yet he will also denounce the base, unjust and animal result of that same Revolution. He warns against a repeat of this performance – a heartless upper class that sees no humanity in the peasants; and the harvested violence of the Revolution that was sown by those gold-plated hands. It is historical analysis and social commentary at its best.
Dickens has a way with words, a delicious skill in humor and dialogue, and a stunning store of unique and engaging characters: the complex, melancholy Sydney Carton; the cold, calculating wickedness of Madame Defarge; the quiet, sympathetic Doctor Manette; the beautiful, pure Miss Manette; the sharp, spunky Miss Pross; the “flopping” wife of crude Jerry Cruncher. And how Dickens weaves these people into each other – masterwork itself!
But what endures is the humanity, humility, and incredible selflessness of many of these people. And how can I miss the wonderful message of resurrection and hope? “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
The powerful redemption at the end is worth the slow buildup of tension in the early pages of the story. It will shock you with the cold-blooded thirst of fallen humanity, open your eyes to love and true self-sacrifice, and move you to the highest ideals of the soul. It’s a story that escapes its historical setting and offers a pertinent depth for all of us.(less)