Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review: Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein, or the Modern PrometheusFrankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another classic that you are supposed to have read at some point in high school or college, but I never had it assigned and had never gotten around to picking it up on my own. In my college days it was probably because I was afraid of it being gruesome, if not scary. In recent times simply because I have learned more about the book and was afraid it would be dull or boring. I don't recall if the current English teacher at the school I teach at has every assigned this book, but I know the prior teacher did and I got mixed reviews from students. However, I picked this up one day this summer and couldn't put it down. I found myself in the kitchen listening to it and preparing a week's worth of meals, just to give myself the excuse to keep secluding myself to enjoy the book just a little longer. I ended up finishing the book in under 24 hours.
Of course, the portrayal of science was somewhat dated and at times very inaccurate, even in the sections not dealing with reanimating corpses. None-the-less I enjoyed the give and take debate between professors and archaic alchemical ideas. Victor also hit the nail on the head when he described the allure of science
"None but those who have experienced them can conceive of the enticements of science. In other studies you go as far as others have gone before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in a scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and wonder."

I also loved how Victor wrestled with what he was doing and even became obsessive about his work. From there the dilemma that emerges and the wrestling with morality that takes place is riveting. Furthermore, I did not realize that the bride of Frankenstein's monster was from the original novel, I kind of always saw it as a Hollywood and cartoon knockoff. The book was much better than I ever imagined it would be. It did not stick with me quite as much, and was not as chilling as the ending of, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but it was a very good read. I certainly understand why this classic is so well enjoyed and would recommend it without hesitation.

Two asides:
1. I have written previously about how the vlog version, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, of Pride and Prejudice made me want to read the original. Since then that group has done their own version this book as well, Frankenstein M.D. I wish that I could say they inspired me to read this story, but in reality I felt that I was reading it in spite of their portrayal. Not that it was horrible, it just wasn't Lizzie Bennett Diaries good.

2. I couldn't find a good way to work it into the review above, but another quote from the novel that I fell in love with:
"Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind, when it has once seized on it, like a lichen on the rock. I wished sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling; but I learned that there was but one means to overcome the sensation of pain, and that was death -- a state which I feared yet did not understand."
(emphasis added)

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