mark monday's Reviews > Frankenstein

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
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Jun 21, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: unicorn, horrortime-classik, rain-man-reviews, alpha-team

...and so I was born! A man, and not a man; a life, and an un-life. Hair and lips of lustrous black, skin of parchment yellow, watery eyes of dun-colored white. The stature of a giant. A horror among men! And so my creator fled me, horrified of his creation. And so I fled my place of birth, to seek lessons amongst the human kind. My lonesome lessons learnt: man is a loving and noble creature; learning is pathway to beauty, to kindness, to fellowship. And this I also learnt: to witness what differs, to meet what may be noble under the skin but ugly above it... is to then reject that other, to cast him out! Man is a brutal and heartless creature. And as I was rejected, I do so reject: turn from me and you shall find my cold hands, seeking some bitter warmth...

O wretched creature am I!

My tale is told by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, in the loveliest and most vivid of flowing prose. A wise writer is this Mary Shelley - and at such a young age! The narrative is as three nesting Russian dolls, a thin one to contain them all, a second of weightier proportions, and a third one within - its gentle and broken heart. That inner story, the smallest, is of my youth - a life of fear, but also of learning, of growing into myself, of witnessing the beauty around me. Of spying upon the family De Lacey - their unknown son. Their own tale is one of bravery and gentleness, of humanity at its weakest and strongest, of survival. But mine is of friendship spurned, kindness returned with terror, a stark rejection, and then a house in flames. And with that burning house burned all the love within this scarcely beating un-heart... all that love, burnt clean away, never to return! The middle story is of my creator, Victor Frankenstein: spoiled child, spoiled man, dreamer, visionary, coward; the foolish instrument of his own despair. A curse upon him, and a blessing, and a curse again! The outer layer is a story of wintry landscapes, an exploration of the icy reaches and the final doom of my creator. It is as well a tale of longing: for justice and for revenge, of course... but also for a companion, for a brother who can never be found. Alas, Captain Walton, a sensitive and lonely soul... I could have been your own brother, such was the depth of our shared yearnings...

O wretched are those who walk the earth alone!

My father and mother both: Victor Frankenstein. Curse the man who rejects his offspring! Curse the man who seeks to forget his own creation! I was the fruit of his mind and of his labors, born rotten, and thus cast away. The tale of my maker is the tale of a parent suddenly fearful of his young, terrified of what he has wrought. It is a tale of responsibility rejected. The record of his actions are of criminal neglect, of shameful weakness, of a man who lives so much in his thoughts that the world around him crumbles, and the people in that world become abused. My wretched self most of all! And yet I am more than his cast-out son. I am the Frankenstein's shadow self: capable of the sublime, yet enacting the abominable. What is dear to him shall be mine to destroy. His precious ideals shall be the instrument of his destruction. As he would embrace his youngest brother, his dearest friend, his beloved wife... so shall I! And as his shadow self, I will follow him as he will follow me, I will lead him to his destiny, on a terrible trail he has forged himself. I shall spare him, and all others, only the faintest pity...

O wretched are those who cross my path!

My story is not simply one of thoughtless cruelty or hideous revenge. It is also one of beauty, and of ugliness. Behold the many descriptions of the natural world, the myriad and vivid wonders of nature, of mountain and forest and lake and ocean. There is true beauty. It is a fact upon which we three - Victor Frankenstein and Captain Walton and I - are truly of one mind. In nature there is true transcendence! But alas, it is not simply nature that is judged as beauty, or as ugliness. Inspect the story closely. Note the good fortune of the child Elizabeth, raised in squalor and then lifted into comfort. Why was she so chosen? Because of her fortunate beauty, her golden hair... so different from the children around her, who remained in poverty. A typical act for the human species: forever embracing the fair and turning away from what their eyes call foul. Terrible human nature, that judges the surface alone. Study Victor's reactions to his professors, both steeped in wisdom: one kindly and elegant in appearance, the other misshapen and coarse... his fondness for the former and his displeasure with the latter. See Victor's uncaring and hysterical flight from his own child - myself! Watch his descent into illness at the mere idea of such ugliness. Witness the family De Lacey, and their rejection of one who sought only to ease their burdens, to bring their kindness back upon them - a being who only craved love! Myself! Again and again, the pleasant surface is favored over the ill-formed; the unknown depths to remain unknowable. Foolish humans - victims of their conceits, forever enchanted by what they call beauty. Foul and petty humans - they are villains of their own making. A curse upon them! And so rejected and abandoned, I shall bring ugliness back to their doorstep. I become nemesis; and shall live forever as your deadly child, a perilous inheritance, a nightmare of your own creation...

O wretched are you all!
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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-50 of 63) </span> <span class="smallText">(63 new)</span>

midnightfaerie someone just gave me a copy of this for my collection...looking forward to ur review/status updates!

message 3: by midnightfaerie (last edited Apr 28, 2012 12:16PM) (new) - added it

midnightfaerie I'm assuming ur talking to Mark, and not me, Lady Danielle...

Mark - I'm also curious to hear about Bloom's afterward...I'm a big fan of his, and my version doesn't have it...

mark monday i will write a review, but i think it just may have to be one of my creative reviews. there's already a bunch of excellent reveiews for this excellent novel (including yours LD), and i'm not sure i can add to what has already been said.

janine, i'm just being lazy in picking this edition. i'll have to go through the editions to find the one that i actually did read. no afterward by Bloom. but a preface by Marlowe (?) and an intro by Mary Shelley.

midnightfaerie worries then...i was just curious...i love bloom...i have some of his of my fav literary critics...

Richard Derus I liked reading your review a great deal more than I liked reading the book. It puts this book into a new and interesting perspective for me.

Well done you.

mark monday thank you sir!

Jonathan And it is such a great book!

midnightfaerie beautiful review!

Jeffrey Keeten Excellent review, you put some sweat into this one and the results are wonderful. Great concept.

message 11: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thanks janine & Jeffrey. i had a fun time writing it. it was a nice diversion while doing my laundry!

Francine Great review! One of my favorite books, ever! :-)

message 13: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thanks! yeah, i think i may feel the same. i'll see how i feel in a few months, if it has sunk in at a deeper level, like my other favorite books. if it 'lives with me', if that makes sense. right now at least, it is definitely 5 stars to me.

Francine mark wrote: "...i'll see how i feel in a few months, if it has sunk in at a deeper level, like my other favorite books. if it 'lives with me', if that makes sense..."

I know what you mean. Honestly, I don't think I truly appreciated it until some years ago, really. I always took it for granted when I was younger, but after I re-read it again (circa 2004, maybe?), there were multiple themes that resonated with me. I was also taken by Shelley's loss after her son passed away, and the reason why she wrote this. To me, behind the sense of desolation and disappointment, of loss and displacement, there was always that glimmer of hope.

You know how you periodically go back to Catcher In The Rye? I go back to Frankenstein every now and then and always manage to find passages that haunt me or mirror how I'm feeling at that particular point in time. So yeah, I know what you mean when you say if it "lives with me".

message 15: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday your thoughts on Shelley's loss of her son, and the connected themes that resonate from that, is reminding me a lot of what is talked about in Ceridwen's excellent review of this book. i think you should check it out:

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Aww, thanks mark. I really like this review.

So, this might sound a little bitchy, and I don't mean it this way, but you really find Shelley's prose lovely and vivid? Because while I have a lot of affection for this story, it's despite the prose, not because of it. I always kinda pretended to myself that the overblown eco-Romanticism here is a sly satire, but I don't actually think that's the case.

Anyway, bitch talking aside, real nice, mark.

message 17: by mark (last edited May 02, 2012 06:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thank you! "eco-Romanticism", that is hilarious and perfect. but yeah, i loved the prose. overblown? definitely. you should know that i love d.h. lawrence. and the early films of ken russell. IN YOUR FACE LYRICAL NATURE-WORSHIPPIN' CRAZED BROMANTIC SOUL-SEARCHING NOW NOW NOW!

i also think that it's not all dramatic fireworks and overblown hysteria. lots of genuinely lovely descriptions of nature, great atmosphere in the polar expedition, Frankenstein's ideals and vaguely creepy childhood were interestingly odd, the story of the De Lacey family was genuinely moving... and the writing in those and various other parts wasn't as fervid. so overall, yeah, definitely loved the prose!

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Haha! It's funny, I completely agree about the polar section and the De Lacey sections, just all that damn swooning and talking about trees elsewhere - bah! Frankenstein is such a twit though - he can conjure so many adjectives about a bit of land, but then his proposal to Elizabeth? Worst ever. Worst ever!

message 19: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars


oh hey Elizabeth, let's get married already, m'kay? oh and btw, i'm gonna tell you something the day after the wedding that will like totally destroy you... but don't worry your pretty little head 'bout it til then, m'kay sweetums?"

yeah, Victor Frankenstein is definitely the complete package as far as douchebags go.

message 21: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thanks LD! i also enjoyed your review.

message 22: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg Nicely written Mark - and with an 'oh, oh' ending too!

message 23: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday i'm glad you liked it, Mark! O! O! O-ee-O-ee-O!

message 24: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg mark wrote: "i'm glad you liked it, Mark! O! O! O-ee-O-ee-O!"

o.O Is this you confusing me with someone else or are you talking to yourself again? :P

message 25: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday don't mind me, i'm just humming that catchy orc tune to myself. Oooo-O. O-ee-O-ee-O!

message 26: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg LOL OK. 'Blood for the Blood God' and all that?

message 27: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday yes! although i was envisioning the cartoon version of LOTR, Warhammer works just as well.

message 28: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg Glad to see you got the WFRP reference! :) I saw the cartoon version of LOTR years ago - I think only the Fellowship was completed though (is that right?).

message 29: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday i think that is correct, but it has been so long that i don't actually remember!

just realized that O-ee-O-ee-O also works for The Time's "Jungle Love". although i probably am dating myself with that reference.

message 30: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg LOL Prince was a good musician but a terrible actor!

message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

(Rankin/Bass did make a cartoon version of the Return of The King which is an unofficial sequel to the hash Bakshi made of the first two books. It's in the style of their Honbit though, what with all the signing and whatnot, so watching one after the other might be a little dissonant.)

message 32: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday i'll make sure to drop some acid first.

message 33: by Riku (new) - rated it 4 stars

Riku Sayuj The story of why Shelley wrote this one is more gruesome I think...

message 34: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday the death of her daughter? or the crazy summer with Percy, Byron, Polidori, etc? i imagine the former.

glad to see you back from your hiatus!

Traveller I seem to be the only person in the world who found this book rather tedious. Maybe it's because i tried it in audiobook form, and the reader was tedious. I think that's it. :(

message 36: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday it's true: YOU... ARE... THE... ONLY... ONE! SHAME!, SHAME!

Traveller mark wrote: "it's true: YOU... ARE... THE... ONLY... ONE! SHAME!, SHAME!"

*Hangs head in shame, and creeps away, vowing to (one day) re-read this in actual text to try and redeem herself *

message 38: by Riku (last edited Jun 21, 2012 03:01AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Riku Sayuj mark wrote: "the death of her daughter? or the crazy summer with Percy, Byron, Polidori, etc? i imagine the former.

glad to see you back from your hiatus!"

A combination of both I guess... i remember feeling that the monster was meant to represent the unbearable lifestyle Percy was trying to impose on her and his former wife.

Richard Derus Traveller wrote: "I seem to be the only person in the world who found this book rather tedious. Maybe it's because i tried it in audiobook form, and the reader was tedious. I think that's it. :("

No, it's not. You found the book tedious because the book is tedious. To you, and to me, it's just a major snooze.

The rah-rahs are in the majority, but the cheering squad for *shudder* Dickens *retch* outnumbers even the grains of sand on the beaches of Ibiza. Or Vanuatu, not to be oceanist.

I stand firm against the Dickensite, Trav, must be firm in your uninterest in Frankenstein! I'm right here with you.

message 40: by Traveller (last edited Jun 21, 2012 06:32AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Traveller Richard wrote: "No, it's not. You found the book tedious because the book is tedious. To you, and to me, it's just a major snooze. {..} No, it's not. You found the book tedious because the book is tedious. To you, and to me, it's just a major snooze.

You know that you are my hero, Richard? ^_^

Well, I wouldn't say Dickens is always a snooze for me, but his style is often so florid and caricature, that I.. don't exactly snooze, as much times start feeling a trifle.. irritated, perhaps? ...but I do love Great Expectations.

There is actually a lot to like in Frankenstein; but one needs to have the advantage of being able to skim over the slower bits, and i think it's the slow pace of audiobook listening that got to me. So not really the book's fault - I mean many books have tedious bits that need faster reading, no?

Richard Derus Ones that haven't been edited to modern sensibilities have those tedious bits, or modern books that have been indifferently or badly edited.

That era was very much slower paced, though, so the book's draggy bits were desirable to its audience.

I've always loved the story of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. He followed onto the podium a popular speaker of the day who bloviated for over an hour. Lincoln's audience was expecting him to do the same again, or more. He delivered 87 words. It was considered a let-down in the day.

Try to find the text of the other speaker's speech now.

Traveller Richard wrote: "He delivered 87 words. It was considered a let-down in the day..."

These days shorter speeches should bring a sigh of relief, i'd say. Bear in mind that people had a lot more time on their hands in those days.

...and you'd think brevity is the soul of wit/desirability these days, and yet - look how long and bloated some of the fantasy tomes that are so popular these days are. I'll never quite understand the love for looong series that drag on and on. Perhaps a loathness to let go of the world that the author created?

Richard Derus Look at how many TV series, despite the loss of 25% of their time in every hour to commercials (here in the USA), are mostly boring filler. (I'd argue commercial TV is boring filler whole and entire, but crowds would gather and pitchforks appear.)

Humans are storytelling apes. Language was probably invented to facilitate gossip. What is gossip but storytelling? What are novels if not voyeuristic little nuggets of someone else's secrets? We've simply moved the impulse to a different starting point...we all agree that fiction is lies from the get-go, unlike gossip.

message 44: by Traveller (last edited Jun 21, 2012 01:19PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Traveller Richard wrote: "Language was probably invented to facilitate gossip..."

Hahaha! You're a real treat, Richard, you are!

Commercials are there to give you time to go to the bathroom and make some coffee. Ever try to sit through a full length movie that you cannot pause?

Admittedly, an hour at a time is fine, and we do at least that much time uninterrupted when at the cinema, but still I don't mind coffee breaks. Though one every half-hour only would certainly be the optimal preference for me.

message 45: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday Dickens & Shelley uber alles!

Richard & Traveller, please report to the Reprogramming Unit immediately.

Richard Derus No! Never! you jackbooted Dickensite thugs will never clabber up my brain with your turgid, lumpy prose and your wobbly, ill-defined "plots"!

Traveller Richard, is there still a chance of escape?

Richard Derus Traveller wrote: "Richard, is there still a chance of escape?"

Get your running shoes on and stay behind me, I'm armed!

message 49: by Traveller (last edited Jun 21, 2012 10:47AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Traveller Richard wrote: "Traveller wrote: "Richard, is there still a chance of escape?"
Get your running shoes on and stay behind me, I'm armed!"

Right behind ya, and i'm legged, and i've got a gun!

Richard Derus Classic porcupine formation! The Dickensites won't know what blew 'em away! I'll see if I can pick off a Shelleyist or two, too.

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