Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Title: Frankenstein
Author: Mary Shelley
Read by:  Dan Stevens
Publisher: Audible
Length: Approximately 8 hours and 35 minutes
Source: Purchased from Amazon Audible

This novel has a VERY slow start that had me ready to abandon it.  It starts as an epistolary novel between a captain and his sister back in England. They are rather mundane letters until one day the captain picks up a strange fellow in peril on a sledge in the artic.  The strange fellow introduces himself as Dr. Frankenstein and starts to give his back story.  He has a rather mundane childhood until he becomes intrigued with the idea of being able to create life from death.  He feverously works alone in his laboratory until he creates his intended goal and instantly finds himself repelled and leaves the monster, wanting nothing to do with it.  This left me with several questions – how did the monster know where Dr. Frankenstein was from and why did he want to destroy his entire family?  Then the book goes into the monster’s narrative as related to Dr. Frankenstein as related to the sea captain.  The novel overall had a very strange narrative structure.

As I got more into the story, I was engrossed.  I also realized that Dr. Frankenstein was a big whiner, but he is the person who caused all the mess.  The monster didn’t ask to be created and when he was Dr. Frankenstein leaves him in horror to find his way around the world on his own.  If he would have provided any sort of love and care, the story would have had a much different conclusion.  It is interesting that the monster wanted human contact and affection, but the horror of his appearance made everyone run from him with fear.  It was only once he couldn’t get love that he switched to violence.

The novel was very different than the Frankenstein movies.  There is no assistant Igor and no “It’s Alive!” scene that I always associate with Frankenstein.  I found it very odd that Frankenstein was so obsessed with creating the monster and then wanted nothing to do with it.

Dan Stevens was a good narrator.  I like his British accent for the sea captain at the start of the novel and then his switch to a vaguely European accent for Dr. Frankenstein’s story.  He then had yet another voice for the monster.  He was very animated in his narration and I really liked listening to him.

I’ve been meaning to read Frankenstein my entire life, but it was the PBS Great American Read that finally moved this to the top of my list.  I find it intriguing that Mary Shelley was only eighteen years old when she wrote it.  She had quite the imagination to write such a unique work.  I classify this as one of the classics that endures though not because it is particularly well written, but because the ideas it contains are so electrifying and unique.

What are your thoughts on Frankenstein?  I’ve love to discuss!

Overall, I’m glad I finally invested time into Frankenstein.  It was a good audiobook and it is the type of story that you need to invest time into to finally get into the good meat of the story.

1 comment:

  1. I struggled with the juvenile Romantic writing style and kept waiting to feel scared or horrified. Instead I spent most of the book feeling slightly amused and bemused by the over-inflated emotions and passions - I enjoyed it well enough though & found the scientific thinking of the time interesting.

    (my review - )