Saturday, September 22, 2007

39. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley pictureI read this once before, the beautifully drawn Bernie Wrightson edition, but I don't remember it well. I was probably too young to get through the early Victorian (or is it pre-Victorian and what was that period called?) language. Now, however, I thrive on the stuff.

Frankenstein is an amazing book, especially considering the stage in literature that it was written. I imagine that readers in the early 19th century must have been quite horrified by the scenes when the monster appears. In terms of the horrific things he does, punches really aren't pulled. All the loved ones get killed, innocent children and women included. Also, the monster is not slow and shambling. He's super fast and dextrous, jumping out of windows and climbing up rocky bluffs with ease.

My take on this book is that it is a condemnation of humanity. I suspect my own position on this pathetic species is colouring that interpretation. But she does a good job of showing us humanity's selfishness and cruelty through the eyes of an outsider and she portrays Dr. Frankenstein as at best morally equivocating and possibly even the bad guy of the story. You really do sympathize with the monster.