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Group Reads - Classic (Fiction) > June & July 2017 Classic Group Read - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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Leslie | 15985 comments Here's the thread for our next group classic - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11973 comments Mod
I studied this during my second year at university and enjoyed it. But I do remember saying that when I was younger, I knew what the story was, the idea of Victor Frankenstein and his monster seems to be everywhere in the media, and it leads to the common misconception that the monster is called Frankenstein himself. I remember thinking that the original story was nothing like what I saw throughout the years. But when you take into account when the novel was written, I thought it was amazing.


Chrissie This thread was lacking so several of us have been talking about the book here:https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1...

Joan and Pink have left interesting comments that I think should not be lost.

Thanks of making the thread, Leslie.

I have completed the book already. I gave it three stars.


Pink Ah I didn't notice you'd continued discussing it on the poll comments! I just read through the rest of them and your review. I'm glad you liked it, even though not as much as I did. Was it different to what you expected? I don't think it's a typical horror or science fiction book really, though it does have these elements of course. It's fascinating how she took ideas of the day, when people were considering what made the essence of life and were experimenting with electricity to give that spark of animation. I like what she did with that story, while expanding it to consider what it meant to be alive and human. The creature only turns into a monster, in name and in his actions, after he is shunned from humanity. He starts out looking awful, but innocent, wanting companionship and to learn. He doesn't have a happy end, but I'm not sure what message this is trying to tell us. Not to meddle in nature? Be careful of what you create? Be responsible for your actions? All things to consider I suppose.

Your comments about the descriptions of nature remind me of how much I liked this in her mothers writing, especially Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

I like this story on its own merits, but also as a strong and important piece of female writing, kicking off science fiction. It's completely different to what Jane Austen and similar authors were writing about at the same time. Though I can understand Mary Shelley being an entirely different product of her upbringing than Austen was.

Has anyone read The Vampyre; A Tale the other story that came out of the famous Shelley/ Byron/ Polidori weekend writing competition? Which must go down as one of the most important literary weekends, thanks to the awful weather keeping them bored and indoors! This was the prototype vampire story, eventually leading to Dracula at the other end of the century.


message 5: by Chrissie (last edited Jun 06, 2017 02:32AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Chrissie Yes, Pink, it was very different from what I had expected. It is scarcely about a monster at all, as you point out when you say, "The creature only turns into a monster, in name and in his actions, after he is shunned from humanity." I agree. The book is instead about how humans behave and how we shouldn't behave. I would call it a cautionary tale, both about what you strive to achieve and the importance of kindness to others. In my view, of course valid, but not particularly revolutionary!

I found the characters scarcely credible.

What I did like was the writing and the way Shelley constructed the novel. I think it terrible that they removed the quote from Milton's Paradise Lost in the 1831 edition. I am very glad I read the 1818 edition.


Pink I think later editions put that quote back in, as they realised how important it was, even for the revised 1831 text.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11973 comments Mod
Pink wrote: "Ah I didn't notice you'd continued discussing it on the poll comments! I just read through the rest of them and your review. I'm glad you liked it, even though not as much as I did. Was it differen..."

I haven't read The Vampyre; A Tale, but I remember discussing it while we were studying Dracula as well. Must take a look at it


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11973 comments Mod
Chrissie wrote: "This thread was lacking so several of us have been talking about the book here:https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1...

Joan and Pink have left int..."


Thanks for sharing, Chrissie I would have missed those comments.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11973 comments Mod
I must try to find my old copy and check which edition it is.


message 10: by Chrissie (last edited Jun 06, 2017 02:30AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Chrissie Alannah wrote: "Chrissie wrote: "This thread was lacking so several of us have been talking about the book here:https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1...

Joan and P..."


Sure. There was no thread so we started blabbing away there.


LauraT (laurata) | 13416 comments Mod
I've loved it some years ago, but I think this is the real chance to read it again!


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) I think the novel has important things to say which totally get lost in the movies. In the movies, it's about an ugly scary violent creature first, bloody murders second, and usurping god's prerogatives - horrors created from the narcissistic vanity of creating a lifeform just like a powerful god, but then losing control of the situation and loss of the respect of one's peers.

The book seemed more about the horrors we create through a basic lack of empathy for others and in refusing our responsibilities to help and support people more unfortunate than ourselves, refusing to recognize the inherit moral decency of most and the right of the living to be recognized as worthy of our help whatever their appearance.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11973 comments Mod
aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "I think the novel has important things to say which totally get lost in the movies. In the movies, it's about an ugly scary violent creature first, bloody murders second, and usurping god's preroga..."

I agree and I have to admit, I had to read the novel a couple of times to really get that message, I wasn't planning on reading this novel but I might have to try and find my copy and give it another read.


message 14: by Joan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joan I just picked it up again and loved this line near the end of letter IV: (view spoiler) perfect for a ghost story!
This is in the 1818 edition - is it retained in the 1831?


Chrissie YES, you love the writing too! It is fabulous isn't it, Joan?! I too would like to know what in the delightful writing has been altered in the 1838 edition? Great question.

Somebody asked me if they should read this. I didn't know how to respond....without knowing more about what they were looking for.


LauraT (laurata) | 13416 comments Mod
PIcked up some days ago and about half way through.
I had read it years ago, and I had liked it a lot.
And I have to say that I confirm the first impression: it is a book that, even if written now two centuries ago, has still today a lot of present ideas: it describe precisely the feeling of being "different", how it is to be considered an outsider, of beeing seen as dangerous simply because different.
I've also liked the parts where he describes how he's learnt to understand the language and, afterwards, to read and write.
What do you say about these two issues?


Chrissie Laura, I agree about describing well "not fitting". It is the monster I felt closest to, not any of the other characters! For me, he was the one I empathized with.

On the other hand I didn't think how he learned to read and write, all on his own with NO help from anyone, was at all convincingly drawn. Nope, that I didn't think was real.

But how do you react to the great writing?
THAT is what really turned me on.

I am glad you have joined us.


message 18: by Joan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joan It does make me wish that I was 12 years old and gathered round a campfire with some giggling friends.


message 19: by Joan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joan Puzzled
Volume1, Chapter IV
(view spoiler)?


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) Joan wrote: "Puzzled
Volume1, Chapter IV
[spoilers removed]?"


I laughed a lot, personally, when I read this bit, whatever it meant.

: D


message 21: by Chrissie (last edited Jun 12, 2017 09:49PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Chrissie Joan wrote: "Puzzled
Volume1, Chapter IV
[spoilers removed]?"


She both (view spoiler) are often intertwined. I didn't take it for more than that.


message 22: by Esther (last edited Jun 13, 2017 02:29AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esther (eshchory) | 1314 comments Joan wrote: "Puzzled
Volume1, Chapter IV
[spoilers removed]?"


I think that both Victor and the book are concerned with (view spoiler)


message 23: by Joan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joan @Chrissie
@April who is feral sometimes?
@Esther
Thanks for your thoughts on that.

This line in Volume 1, Chapter V made me smile:
" How different from the manly and heroical poetry of Greece and Rome."

You don't read comments like that anymore!


message 24: by Joan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joan Love this one, too,-
"...the fangs of remorse tore my bosom, and would not forego their hold."


Shirley | 4177 comments I read this about ten years ago, when I did an English course at night school. I wasn't that bothered about it when I saw it on the reading list, but when I started reading it, I thought it was brilliant, I ended up falling in love with this book, and couldn't believe how wrong I was to discount it. I am so glad it was a required book for the course, as I may never have read it otherwise!


message 26: by Joan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joan As Victor's mood is restored by the visit to the Valley of Chamounix, in the back of my mind I heard https://youtu.be/uZMUwri0Yjc.

Sorry to be irreverent : )


message 27: by Joan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joan So Mary W. Shelley opposed capital punishment and campaigned against it - I thought it was a modern question.

"When one creature is murdered, another is immediately deprived of life...they call this retribution. Hateful name." Volume 1, Chapter VII


message 28: by Joan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joan Volume II, Chapter II
I hadn't realized that this was (view spoiler) at least that's what it seems like to me.


message 29: by Joan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joan Has anyone seen the movie The Mind of Mr. Soames, the annotator of my book notes similarities to The Creature.


message 30: by Joan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joan I've just finished it - WHEW- that was fun! I'm glad I set it aside at first. The writing and plot were worth it. The story was so much better than what I expected - more nuanced- still I am looking forward to watching some of the movies.


LauraT (laurata) | 13416 comments Mod
Chrissie wrote: "Laura, I agree about describing well "not fitting". It is the monster I felt closest to, not any of the other characters! For me, he was the one I empathized with.

On the other hand I didn't thin..."


That's right!


Maggie the Muskoka Library Mouse (mcurry1990) | 35 comments A short novel, but one I would have gladly read more of.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11973 comments Mod
Maggie wrote: "A short novel, but one I would have gladly read more of."

Especially when you take into consideration when it was written.


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