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Frankenstein: The 1818 Text
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Group Themed Reads: Discussions > April 2018 - Frankenstein

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message 1: by Peggy, Moderator (new)

Peggy (pebbles84) | 15076 comments One of the group reads for April is Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Please discuss the book in this thread.

Isaura will be leading the discussion.

In order to receive a badge you must:
1. have completed the book before or during April 2018.
2. discussed it in this thread. Discussion must be more than "I read the book and I liked it". Discussion requires something more substantial and analytical of what you read, for example, thoughts, opinions, impact it had on you, what was your favourite part, was it what you expected it to be like etc. You may also like to review the book and post a link to the review in this thread. Please refer to our group spoiler policy for further information.
3. Report that you have read AND discussed the book in the reporting thread (include a brief summary of what you thought of the book).

General Rules:
1. Please mark your spoilers with the spoiler tags along with mentioning what stage of the book you are at so other's don't get a nasty shock. Chapter numbers/titles are generally best as they are the same across all formats and editions. See our spoiler policy
2. The book may be combined with the Year Long Challenge, Topplers, and Monthly Challenges.

Happy reading!


message 2: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments I’m planning to read this one this month. I’m not big on classics, but this one is short enough and being a group read should be good.


Renee (elenarenee) | 1630 comments I read this several times. It is an interesting story but I remember it very well. I will be joining in the discussion without doing a re read. Looking forward to the discussion.


message 4: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments I started it yesterday, though I was planning to start later in the month. It started much differently than I expected. Up to chapter 1: (view spoiler)


Annerlee | 2702 comments Kristie: your comment about the writing style in classics is interesting. I always find the first couple of chapters hardgoing for similar reasons. I often find the characters stilted and superficial but this generally lessen once I get into the flow of the story. I find myself 'facepalming' and rolling my eyes when characters get overly melodramatic though... It tends go be the wilting ladies that get to me most.


message 6: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments Yes, Annerlee, even chapter one wasn’t as bad as the beginning of the book. The start was hard to take.


Sandra (sanlema) | 9411 comments I've always thought that classics writing style seems to be closer to theater/dramatization than more modern novels. I don't know if what I am saying makes sense, but reading classics to me feels similar to reading a play, specially the dialogs, of course.


Renee (elenarenee) | 1630 comments I have a friend who wrote a paper on this subject. Her Theory( not sure of exact term) is that because of TV viewing we have gotten more comfortable with short episodes in books.

She thinks that is the reason we see so many books broken up into little passages. She feels because of the weekly episodes people are no longer used to a linear narrative.

I know I myself have become less comfortable with a linear story. I like the breaks.

I still love my classics but I also enjoy modern books


message 9: by Lanelle (new)

Lanelle | 3109 comments Annerlee wrote: "I find myself 'facepalming' and rolling my eyes when characters get overly melodramatic though... It tends go be the wilting ladies that get to me most."

Many people consider Frankenstein to be in the gothic genre. Melodrama and fainting ladies were supposed to happen in those types of stories :)


message 10: by Casceil (new) - added it

Casceil | 2622 comments Renee, I like your friend's theory. I think it is not just television, but the internet and the pace of modern life that leaves us always expecting the next thing. I attended a class several years ago about generational differences in learning styles. I learned that some things I hate about busy web pages--like text and pictures always changing all around the screen when I am just trying to read text--are a feature young people find appealing.


message 11: by Kristie, Moderator (last edited Apr 04, 2018 10:19AM) (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments I have no issue with the story being linear. I actually enjoy that. I don't mind long chapters either.

What I don't care for is the very flowery speech or the very dramatic scenes. The scene I was referring to above involved two men speaking and one stated that he was interested in following in the other's path and the other man broke down in tears. TEARS. And "a groan burst from his heaving breast." That's the stuff that gets me. I just can't imagine people reacting so dramatically. To me, it just makes it unrealistic.

I see what you're saying about theater, Sandra. I can picture that.


message 12: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments Renee - I heard something similar years ago referring to short attention spans and the short segments on Sesame Street.


message 13: by Casceil (new) - added it

Casceil | 2622 comments I've read a bit more. I've reached the beginning of Chapter 7.

Chapter 3 (view spoiler)


Steve Perkins | 49 comments Three main thoughts so far. (I'm about halfway through chapter 3):

I've been smiling as I read all the comments on the overly flowery language and the dramatic over-reactions - I've been mildly annoyed with them as well. It all sounds so stilted and not of our time. But of course, that's what "classic" means I suppose. Normally I don't notice, or if I do, it doesn't bug me, but for some reason it seems particularly grating in this case. Seems a lot of us have had the same take.

Another thing that strikes me is how different it is (so far) from the general pop-cultural portrayals of Frankenstein that I'm familiar with. I've never read the book or seen the Boris Karloff movie - I know, I live under a rock - so my associations have all been parodies or homages. This is starting out much differently than I anticipated and I'm waiting for all the elements of the parodies to start to show up. Might be a while, as I'm pretty much basing my expectations on Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein! I also remember being amazed, when I first read it, at how different Bram Stoker's novel Dracula was from its modern representations, but in that case it wasn't that the story was essentially different or disconnected from its modern retellings, I just thought the novel was exponentially better and richer. I'll hold further judgement on this one until we get further along.

And the third thing that strikes me is the pace, which seems ploddingly slow. It's a rather short book, and I'm already about a fifth of the way into it, and I still feel like I'm in the earliest of introductions. I don't even know the name of the mystery man yet (though I can guess). Kristie referred to our modern short attention spans so think I'm probably guilt of that. But then again, this classic isn't much different than others in its era, and I'm usually quite patient with the over-elaboration. This one bugs me for some reason.


Sandra (sanlema) | 9411 comments Steve, I felt the same way about Frankenstein and Dracula. I never really watched the movies, not from beginning to end at least, but they exist in our culture anyway. I was surprised how different the books were compared with this popular portrait. I liked Dracula much better than Frankenstein, though.


message 16: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments Steve - I also agree that the story, so far at least, has not aligned with what I have in my head as a cultural representation of Frankenstein. I may have to rent the movie after the for a comparison! I was so confused when the book first started that I though looked to make sure I was reading the correct book with all the ships and such. I'm hoping as we get further along it begins to look more as we expected it to.

I still need to get to Dracula. I think I will do a book / movie comparison of that one at some point too.


message 17: by Steve (last edited Apr 10, 2018 07:32PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Steve Perkins | 49 comments I just finished Chapter 7 and am 31% of my way through the book (as per Kindle's calculation), and I still feel like there's nothing that's happened that could be considered a spoiler if I let slip. But I'll err on the side of caution.

(view spoiler)

And Frankenstein's wilting-violet personae still really gets on my nerves...


Sandra (sanlema) | 9411 comments Steve wrote: "And Frankenstein's wilting-violet personae still really gets on my nerves"

Oh yeah.... I remember that. Insufferable... I also remember thinking when I read it (view spoiler)


Renee (elenarenee) | 1630 comments I think it is interesting that this book was considered horror. It does illustrate how times have changed.

The horror was that Frankenstein created life. We now clone life. We create thinking machines. We create new species of plants. We modify genes to cure diseases.

I wonder people hundreds of years from now will find horrifying?


message 20: by Kristie, Moderator (last edited Apr 11, 2018 08:43AM) (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments That's an interesting concept, Renee. I know there are so may things we have or do now that I couldn't have even imagined years ago.

Just a few things I can think of off the top of my head - reality tv, who would have believed we would want to watch tv without a script where people just do their thing and act like a bunch of idiots? and brightly colored hair? I never would have guessed that people would intentionally want their hair unnatural colors, such as green and blue. Those are both examples that I saw in movies and thought no one would ever want to do that in real life or at least that it would never be really socially acceptable, then surprise, surprise, they did and it is. It's so funny how society changes. (Just a note: I have no issues with either of these. I just would not have seen them coming years ago.)

Also interesting, I always thought of Frankenstein as a classic horror, but if you go to the book's main page it is not listed as horror at all. It is listed as science fiction and gothic.


Annerlee | 2702 comments I was somewhat irritated by glimpses of the author as a young innocent romantic with an unrealistic view of the world at the start of the book: example - Chapter 1: where the young captain gives up his bride and money, then goes into exile so that his ex can marry the penniless love of her life against her father's wishes.. This made me squirm. However... I'm now wondering whether this was an intentional ploy on the part of Mary Shelley.

The first character we meet in the book is a passionate young, explorer who is pursuing his goal of discovering a sea passage to the North Pacific. He is mainly self taught and fixated on this one glorious goal. I wonder whether the romanticism in his letters are a symptom of his naivity and is a way of contrasting him (at the beginning of his career) with Frankenstein (at the end of his). Both are men at the forefront of their own scientific fields and Frankenstein can be seen as warning his younger self with the benefit of his own hindsight.

I've read the book before but am at Chapter 8 on my re-read, so am still thinking this through. What exactly is Frankenstein warning about? Is it the same failing as perceived by the reader (view spoiler) or does he solely blame the 'evil' creature for the events that befall him?


Claire  | 299 comments Read the book yesterday. I did enjoy the writing style. Yes, it is dramatic, but that falls into the gothic and romantic tradition. On the other hand I do enjoy the clear English that has all the marks of real craftmanship. As to the story...I feel the movie is very different. There is much more about feelings and about Frankenstein, while the movie is about the Monster.
I gave it a solid 4 stars, as I really valued the book, but not as an absolute favourite. It is one of the classics that felt a bit dated.


message 23: by Casceil (new) - added it

Casceil | 2622 comments My husband raised an interesting point about the opening chapters, on the ship. In the sea captain, the author creates a character for Doctor Frankenstein to talk to, and makes the character someone the Doctor can relate to and confide in.


Annerlee | 2702 comments Casceil: that's right. He needed a friend to confide in. And we 're presented with Frankenstein as he becomes. He's the one who we get to know best, rather than the younger less developed versions. He gets to explain his fate and philosophise on it throughout the book, to drive his point home?


message 25: by Sarah, Moderator (new) - added it

Sarah | 18188 comments Claire wrote: "Read the book yesterday. I did enjoy the writing style. Yes, it is dramatic, but that falls into the gothic and romantic tradition. On the other hand I do enjoy the clear English that has all the m..."

It would be great if you could expand on your thoughts a bit more, discussing with the others.


message 26: by Annerlee (last edited Apr 12, 2018 02:04AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Annerlee | 2702 comments Claire wrote: "... I do enjoy the clear English that has all the marks of real craftmanship.

I'm currently part way through Chapter 11.

After the section with Justine the narrative seems to widen and relax into more descriptive passages, as Frankenstein spends more time in contemplation and retreats into the natural grandeur of Switzerland.
You're right Claire, the descriptions of the natural world are simple, but so clear and emotive. They show real craftsmanship.
When I read your comment I immediately thought of what I'm currently reading about Frankenstein's monster (view spoiler). This is an interlude away from the melodrama then : / I'm enjoying the language and steeling myself for the misery to come.


Claire  | 299 comments Sarah wrote: "Claire wrote: "Read the book yesterday. I did enjoy the writing style. Yes, it is dramatic, but that falls into the gothic and romantic tradition. On the other hand I do enjoy the clear English tha..."

I’ll give it a try...
I’m not sure when reading classics how to evaluate them.
I read the comments here, and saw the comments on the overly dramatic or melodrama. I noticed I never found it an issue, as I was expecting it and it falls into the gothic tradition https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/...
The same happens when I go to a Margritte museum..I don’t expect realistic or impressionistic paintings there.
This made me realize, that I evaluate the reading into the tradition, but I wonder often if that is right? Do others rate books in a tradition or not?
Apart from the former, I thought the writing was very clear and excellent. It is something I often notice in classics. I’m a non native english (it was the 5 th language I learned) and classics are often the best reads, deceiptively easy and in an elegant style.
But as Non native, I might be wrong, so happy Annerlee feels the same.


message 28: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments I don't think you're wrong at all, Claire. I think it is personal preference. My husband loves the more flowery language of the classics. I don't care for it. It all depends on what you enjoy. There is no right or wrong.

I will say for as old as this story is, the language has held up quite well, I think. I don't feel like I need to do a lot of interpreting while reading. The letters at the beginning had me a bit worried, but the chapters haven't been too bad in my opinion. I still find it a bit dramatic, but that is to be expected.


message 29: by Annerlee (last edited Apr 12, 2018 08:26AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Annerlee | 2702 comments Claire wrote: "I’m not sure when reading classics how to evaluate them.
I'm not a classics expert either, but this is quite a safe environment to discuss what my own personal impressions are. I'm sure there are others in the group who have a better idea about classics, but I also know they'll put across their own ideas and insight in a non-confrontational way and I'll be able to learn / consider some other viewpoint. That's one of the things I enjoy about this group... all viewpoints are valid and discussions are really friendly.

By the way - I'm really impressed you're reading and discussing classics as a non-native speaker Claire, that takes a lot of persistence and confidence ; )


Sandra (sanlema) | 9411 comments What did you all think about that style of one character talking about what other character had told them? It is kind of a reported speech chain. The young man in the ship tells his sister what Frankenstein told him the creature had told him. I know this reported speech is kind of common in classics, but in the case of this book it is really something.


Annerlee | 2702 comments Sandra wrote: "What did you all think about that style of one character talking about what other character had told them? It is kind of a reported speech chain. The young man in the ship tells his sister what Fra..."

The first time I read the book I was irritated by it and tried to remember who was saying what to try and spot any bias or untruths in the retelling. (This 'did my head in') The second time, I'm not getting so hung up about it and I think I'm enjoying the book more as a result.

I think the use of reported speech is just a clever ploy to give the novel an interesting structure, but that each narrator is giving a full and truthful account. For this reason, I generally forget this is reported speech at all.

What do you think? Is that bad of me? Do you feel differently Sandra?


message 32: by Sandra (last edited Apr 12, 2018 09:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sandra (sanlema) | 9411 comments I think I did feel different. The modern style of different POV in a story is closer to me of what you explain as each character giving a full and truthful account of the events. I am biased to think some "truth" is generally lost in each retelling. But I didn't really have problems with the style. The reason I didn't love this book was the characters mostly (view spoiler)

Still I gave the book 3 stars, and that is a good book for me.


message 33: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments That’s an interesting question, Sandra. I think I felt similarly to Annerlee. I pretty much don’t think about it being a chain of retellings. I just listen to it as if each person is telling their story to me directly. So, I suppose it’s almost drawing me into the story more by making me a character- the one Frankenstein is telling the story to.


message 34: by Annerlee (last edited Apr 12, 2018 01:14PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Annerlee | 2702 comments Kristie wrote "I suppose it’s almost drawing me into the story more by making me a character- the one Frankenstein is telling the story to. "
I know exactly what you mean Kristie. I hadn't thought of that, but you're right.


message 35: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments My goodness, Frankenstein is such a drama queen. If I never read the word "despair" again I will be a happy woman. Same goes for wretch, fiend, and weep. I've never read so much about a man feeling so sorry for himself. Honestly, it seems to me that this whole thing could have been prevented if he just realized that his creation was ugly before he gave it life. Geez, apparently he's a moody scientist, but not much of an artist. ;)

I should be done within the hour. Just had to pause for a minute to vent on how annoying Dr. Frankenstein is. He's so willing to recognize that he caused all of his problems, but not once (yet) does he stop to think how he could possibly fix the problem. He just continues to wallow in his misery. I don't know how his family tolerates him.

(view spoiler)


message 36: by Janice, Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Janice (jamasc) | 48687 comments LOL, Kristie.


Sandra (sanlema) | 9411 comments Can't agree more, Kristie!


Renee (elenarenee) | 1630 comments (view spoiler)


message 39: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments lol, Renee! (view spoiler)


message 40: by Sarah, Moderator (new) - added it

Sarah | 18188 comments @Renee - what does your spoiler in msg 39 refer to? Would you be able to edit to flag what part of the book it relates to please. Thank you.


message 41: by Janice, Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Janice (jamasc) | 48687 comments Renee is replying to Kristie's msg 36.


Sandra (sanlema) | 9411 comments Re: Kristie msg 40 (view spoiler)


Sandra (sanlema) | 9411 comments Just because I remember this, I bought for my kids some time ago this book Monster Science: Could Monsters Survive (and Thrive!) in the Real World?. The first case study is the monster Frankenstein created. Cool book, if you happen to have kids around interested.


message 44: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments Sandra wrote: "Re: Kristie msg 40 [spoilers removed]"

Completely agree!


message 45: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments Sandra wrote: "Just because I remember this, I bought for my kids some time ago this book Monster Science: Could Monsters Survive (and Thrive!) in the Real World?. The first case study is the mons..."

That does look interesting for the right kids, Sandra! I'd be curious.


Steve Perkins | 49 comments I've gotten to Chapter 17 and I'm wondering... (view spoiler)

I'm trying - I promise, I'm trying - to take on that "willful suspension of disbelief" that is usually required when reading more fanciful stories, but this novel is just pushing too many of my logic buttons. I feel like a jerk finding fault with a beloved "classic," but I'm really irritated by this one.


Steve Perkins | 49 comments But I should say that I did find the narrator narrating a narrator who's narrating a narrator aspect pretty interesting!


message 48: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments Steve wrote: "I've gotten to Chapter 17 and I'm wondering... [spoilers removed]"

I thought the same thing about the (view spoiler)

Definitely needed to suspend disbelief there quite a bit.


Annerlee | 2702 comments Re Chapter 17: I was irritated on my first read in exactly the same way (view spoiler) On this my second reading, (view spoiler) it isn't bothering me as much. The whole language and philosophy learning thing IS laid on thick and has me rolling my eyes at the book quite a bit. I just keep thinking 'naive Romanticism' then try to move on (with a quiet 'hmmph' and a 'Whatever').

I find sections like this pull me out of the narrative and shift my focus to wonder about Mary S the author. Was she a young naive drama queen...or just typical of her time? I haven't found much about her as a person on the internet.


message 50: by Kristie, Moderator (new) - added it

Kristie | 13577 comments Did anyone happen to pay better attention than I did as to how much of this book took place in Switzerland? I really don't think I know where he was most of the time.


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