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Frankenstein > FOTMP: January 2018 Pick - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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message 1: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rob (robzak) | 6891 comments Mod
As Previously mentioned, this month's pick is Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

There are a few versions, as mentioned in this thread along with Project Guttenburg links.

If you're a Kindle person, some version book is currently free on Kindle. It says it's marked down from $4. Not sure if it's a temporary thing or what.

Kindle: https://smile.amazon.com/FRANKENSTEIN...

As a side note, there are 3 versions on Audible of differing prices, but if you "buy" this free Kindle version I think you save $1 on the Nico Evers-Swindell version.


message 2: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tassie Dave | 3606 comments Mod
Happy 200th Birthday Frankie

This is our first Sword and Laser book pick written by a teenager. (Mary Shelley was 18 when she started writing it, and finished it while still only 19.)

She is the first author we’ve read who was born in the 18th Century (1797)

This the first book from the 19th century we’ve read. (Published 1818)

It is, by far, the oldest book we’ve read at 200 years old. (The Hobbit was 75 years and 1 month old when we read it.)

This is the first book we’ve read that is in the Public Domain world wide.

Mary Shelley is only the 2nd British female writer we've read.
Mary Shelley is only the 2nd European female writer we've read.


message 3: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rob (robzak) | 6891 comments Mod
Tassie Dave wrote: "Happy 200th Birthday Frankie

This is our first Sword and Laser book pick written by a teenager. (Mary Shelley was 18 when she started writing it, and finished it while still only 19.)

She is the ..."


Ooh. I love stats!


Bruce (bruce1984) | 41 comments The commentators always say Frankenstein is a work of caution about the limits of science and tech. I guess I see it opposite. The whole problem as I see it is that Dr. Frankenstein created life, and incredible thing, and then abandoned his creation. Okay, so he was a bit ugly. So what? There's lots of ugly people in the world. Maybe I'm one of them. But to have a nervous breakdown over an ugly prototype? Doesn't that strike anyone as kind of goofy?

The way I see it, Frankenstein is about the irrational fear and denial of science and tech. We see that sort of thing everywhere today. Denial of climate change. Fear of AI. The terminator is coming to take over the world. Instead, Dr. Frankenstein could have engaged with his creation to make the world a better place.


Dominik (gristlemcnerd) | 132 comments Bruce wrote: "The commentators always say Frankenstein is a work of caution about the limits of science and tech. I guess I see it opposite. The whole problem as I see it is that Dr. Frankenstein created life, a..."

Remember, people in the past (at least according to literature) had nervous breakdowns at the drop of a hat. Very high-strung, them.

Also, looks like someone read my copy in school. Lots of notes in the margins :D


Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Bruce wrote: "The commentators always say Frankenstein is a work of caution about the limits of science and tech. I guess I see it opposite. The whole problem as I see it is that Dr. Frankenstein created life, a..."

As Dr. Lecter would say, "First principles, Clarice. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself?"

What is Frankenstein about? A man who abandons his child.

Why was Mary in Switzerland? She was trying to get Lord Byron to take responsibility for knocking up her step-sister.

What happened to her the year before? Percy Shelley had gotten her pregnant and then run off with the aforementioned step-sister.

What happened the year before that? Percy had skipped out on his wife Harriet and their newborn daughter so he could run around Europe with Mary.

What happened to Mary's mother? She got pregnant by an American smuggler who then dumped her.

Oh, and what was the pseudonym Percy used for his first poetry collection? Victor.

What I'm saying is, there's kind of a pattern here, you know.


Ruth | 1140 comments I read this back in November on audiobook.

I had a wobble about 40% through and nearly Lemmed it because I was finding it just so dreary and depressing but I soldiered on and I'm glad I did. For me it picks up once (view spoiler)

I especially enjoyed the painfully hopeful interlude where (view spoiler)

The ending has the terrible, beautiful inevitability of Greek tragedy.

One thing I felt didn't really add much to the narrative was the framing story of the guy going on a voyage to the Arctic and writing letters home. A lot of 18th/19th century novels do something like this and I always think 'Just get on with the story!'


Ruth | 1140 comments Bruce wrote: "The commentators always say Frankenstein is a work of caution about the limits of science and tech. I guess I see it opposite. The whole problem as I see it is that Dr. Frankenstein created life, a... But to have a nervous breakdown over an ugly prototype? Doesn't that strike anyone as kind of goofy? "

Yeah, I thought Victor was kind of a dumbass, or at least a pretty weak-minded character. He spends ages creating his version of life, then immediately skips out. I can totally see this as an allegory for dead-beat dads who can't cope with the sudden onset of responsibilities.


message 9: by Travis (last edited Jan 01, 2018 05:22AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Travis Foster (travismfoster) Bruce wrote: "The whole problem as I see it is that Dr. Frankenstein created life, and incredible thing, and then abandoned his creation."

Totally agree. I think Victor is the real villain in the story even as he spends hundreds of pages weeping about all the ways he's been victimized. Reading this novel now makes me think it's all about attachment theory: what happens to people when they're abandoned by all possible caregivers, (view spoiler)?

I also agree with you Ruth. For me, the novel was at its best when it switched to the creature's perspective.

I listened to the Blackstone Audio version of the novel, which was pretty fun. Four-syllable words like 'perspicacity' just sound so good in the right narrator's lips. I do wonder, though, if Victor becomes even more insufferable when listening to him rather than reading him.


Allison Hurd | 227 comments Sean, that's some great context. For me, the book was not so much about the dangers of science but about making sure we're not doing something because we can without asking whether we should. With the context of inconstancy in Mary's life, it feels like a stark "we reap what we sow" sort of story.

I did like the creature's POV sections. I also loved the beginning--some of the best horror writing I've seen in some time. I had a visceral reaction to Victor's own terror.


message 11: by Sean (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Ruth wrote: "One thing I felt didn't really add much to the narrative was the framing story of the guy going on a voyage to the Arctic and writing letters home. A lot of 18th/19th century novels do something like this and I always think 'Just get on with the story!'"

You know how there are people who say, "I don't like first person narration. You know the narrator has to live to tell the story"? That's not literally true. There's no reason a novel can't end with, "And then I got shot in the head and died," but if an author tried it and didn't have some kind of frame narrative in the afterlife, a lot of readers would be mad because it doesn't make any sense.

Well, readers used to be even more literal minded. If you wrote a first person narrative, you had to explain how the story came to be published. Given the way Frankenstein ends, there has to be somebody present to hear Victor's story and witness the ending, otherwise the book couldn't exist.


Colin Forbes (colinforbes) | 506 comments A Frankenstein-themed epsiode appeared in one of my other podcast feeds - Science Weekly from The Guardian. Find the episode here if you want to hear what a number of scientists feel about the book's legacy.

There may be plot spoilers within! (Do we really need to say that after 200 years?)

I'm about half way through the read and sometimes loving it.


Ian (RebelGeek) Seal (rebel-geek) | 680 comments This is the 1st book I’m going to read with S&L. It’s also my 1st time reading the original novel. I’ve read the Dean Koontz series & seen many screen adaptations. I’m going to listen to the Audiobook narrated by Simon Vance (downloading now). I thought some of you might like this Frankenstein Haiku (or Horror-Ku) I wrote a few years ago.

Patchwork body parts
Man of science playing God
Who is the monster?


message 14: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4075 comments ^Love it! If you don't object I may Tweet that later, providing attribution of course.


Ian (RebelGeek) Seal (rebel-geek) | 680 comments Sure! I just tweeted it. @IanSeal


message 16: by Nate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nate (nate1481) | 11 comments There is a series of videos on Frankenstein done by the Extra Credits (game development) / Extra History team as the first of a new series called Extra Sci-fi.
There are spoilers even if you know the general story as they discuss the background and inspiration to the writing and themes that recur widely in science fiction.
I watched before I knew the book pick and would recommend watching after you have read to avoid overthinking while reading.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DnSmGFm...


Samantha | 6 comments I listened to this book for the first time late last year and enjoyed most of it. The beginning dragged a bit, I was wanting the monster. But overall I enjoyed it. Thought it had some great things to analyse and think about with regards to societies role in creating evil and also an individuals ability to impact another's life and the importance of raising a human being vs just creating one.


Brendan (mistershine) | 930 comments I'm at the part of the book where it's a person telling a story of a person telling a story of a person telling a story. The framing devices are out of control!


David H. (farrakut) "And that's when Brendan realized, he himself was in a framing narrative."


Dominik (gristlemcnerd) | 132 comments ",said David, whose tale I shall relate to you presently."


Joyce (eternity21) | 177 comments I totally sympathized for the most part with the monster. It wasn't his fault he was made ugly and huge. It was Victor's. Then he abandons his "child" and is surprised that child is destructive when he doesn't get his way. He's only a couple of years old and has found a way to find nourishment and shelter all on his own.

Victor acts so irresponsibly by abandoning his creation. What did he expect. You wanted to have fund and create life then you don't want to give it love and support. Very much a dead beat dad.


Gregory (gfitzgeraldmd) | 39 comments I agree with many comments in this thread: Victor Frankenstein is kind of a dick. He is a little OCD or maybe even Bipolar in nature. He is obsessed with completing his experiment and then freaks out and runs away, thus abandoning his creation (child). The poor creature has to figure out how to live in the world on its own. What a creep Victor is. He just hopes the creature goes away and doesn't bother him anymore. As if pretending a problem doesn't exist, makes it so. I really sympathized more with the creature than Victor through the whole story.

Otherwise, I completely loved the book. The prose and language were very enjoyable to read. I am curious as to whether the people of the era really talked this way, or was this just flowery writing on Mary Shelley's part?


Dominik (gristlemcnerd) | 132 comments One thing that occurred to me is just how much they actually have in common. Throughout the book, Victor goes on about how bad he has it, and nobody could possibly be as sad as he is, to the point where he's claiming to be worse off than the woman who (view spoiler) because he feels guilty about what the monster has done - and then the book ends with the monster going on about how he has it worse, because sure, Victor is sad about (view spoiler), but the monster had to do it and now he feels really guilty about it, which clearly is, like, the worst thing ever. Neither one seems to care very much about the victims, except in terms of how they affect him.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2501 comments The pop culture view of this book is very far from the actual books content. About the furthest I can think of is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lbis2...


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

Iain Bertram (iain_bertram) | 1422 comments Gregory wrote: "I agree with many comments in this thread: Victor Frankenstein is kind of a dick. ..."

Nah, Victor is just outright evil.


Randy Kays | 5 comments Frankenstein is a dick and fool. I can barely stand him. But the monster ..., the monster is terrible, horrible, cruel, sad and pathetic. Ill used by Frankenstein and the world, one greives for what he could have been. I listened to the Librivox version by Cori Samuel: https://librivox.org/frankenstein-or-...

She was excellent reader!
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley


message 27: by Lauren (last edited Jan 28, 2018 07:55AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lauren (parnopaeus) | 57 comments Science Friday on NPR is also having Frankenstein as their book club pick this month, and they discuss something about it every week on the show. You can see some of this content on their site. (h/t to my husband who is neither on Goodreads nor part of S&L for telling me about this!)


Lauren (parnopaeus) | 57 comments Gregory wrote: "I agree with many comments in this thread: Victor Frankenstein is kind of a dick."

I wrote in my review of this book that Victor Frankenstein is a gothic dumpster fire.


S. K. Pentecost | 36 comments Brendan wrote: "I'm at the part of the book where it's a person telling a story of a person telling a story of a person telling a story. The framing devices are out of control!"

I wonder if Mary had read Melmoth the Wanderer? It's been a few years, but if memory serves, there was some framing to the 5th power in that one.


Travis Foster (travismfoster) Popping back to the Frankenstein thread to share this link to Jill Lepore's article about it. The article's long, but worth it.

One of her main argument is that the creature's section comprises a slave narrative, a case she makes by noting some really fascinating links between the novel and the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass:

The creature comes of age when he finds Frankenstein’s notebook, recounting his experiment, and learns how he was created, and with what injustice he has been treated. It’s at this moment that the creature’s tale is transformed from the autobiography of an infant to the autobiography of a slave. “I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing,” Douglass wrote. “It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy.” So, too, the creature: “Increase of knowledge only discovered to me more clearly what a wretched outcast I was.” Douglass: “I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead.” The creature: “Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live?” Douglass seeks his escape; the creature seeks his revenge.

I'll be curious to see of we see links between Frankenstein and March's pick, An Unkindness of Ghosts, which is also a slave narrative.


message 31: by Ivy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ivy | 45 comments I know I'm late to the game but I just finished the book this morning, and the discussion here was really excellent. Thanks for all the background...it wasn't included in the project Guttenberg e-book...and it really enhanced my appreciation of the novel. My only knowledge of Frankenstein prior to this was gleaned from one viewing of Young Frankenstein many years ago.

I don't read too much 19th century literature, but I've always enjoyed the beautiful use of language and inclusion of words that have fallen by the wayside (see: paroxysm of grief, indefatigble attention". I love the language used here, it really underscores the contrasts between the beautiful natural (God created?) world and the ugliness of the unnatural monster.

This work delved much deeper into the darkness that can be found in the human psyche than I would have expected for the time. Even today people seem hesitant to talk about mental illness, yet in this narrative Victor was having one breakdown after another. He does a lot of awful things, and suffers for it. And the monster? The source of his monstrosity isn't his ugly form, its his broken heart. It gave me a lot to think about.

Excellent pick, and one more book for the laser shelf!


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