For the final book of this challenge I read the 1818 edition of Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. I would think everyone knows the plot by now, but here's the short version; Dr. Victor Von Frankenstein creates a simple creature from various body parts. The creature turns into a monster when Dr. Frankenstein rejects him. Let me say this before I continue. I have no interest in modern-day horror stories and somehow thought this book similar. I stand completely corrected and admit my error in judgement. Not only was it much better than expected, but it has become my favorite read thus far in 2020!
Having never read Shelley before, I thought perhaps her prose would reflect that of her late Mother and her best known work (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman 1792). I was wrong again. Frankenstein was simply gorgeous to me. I was so surprised by how exceptional and pleasing to the ear her prose remained throughout the novel. The eloquent descriptions of the human condition really captured my interest.
I noticed immediately the many references to the Bible, and it's worth noting that many of those are references to the early chapters of Genesis and particular the events of creation as told in this Old Testament Book. The Old Testament story is relevant to Frankenstein on several levels:
The novel was structured in an epistolary framework...which I dearly love! Shelley's writing really resonated with me. I enjoyed her ability to weave emotion, I enjoyed the plot momentum, and my heart shattered often for the 'monster'. The monster was so well described and portrayed that he became for me the emotional strand for the entire novel. This is just my opinion, but the 'Wretch' is among the finest literary creations ever penned. Victor Frankenstein was of course the villain of the work. His treatment of the monster was detestable, and despite this, I still found myself irresolute and vacillating over Frankenstein. Shelley masterfully helped me see past my disgust and disdain for him. In fact, I came to understand and appreciate Frankenstein’s very human position - though not enough for me to disregard his lack of compassion, but I did find him a very tragic though egotistical figure.
You should most certainly take the time to read this classic novel. It will forever be on my all time favorite list. The excellent prose, the imagery, the emotion and the characters are all supremely extraordinary. I'll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes:
“Solitude was my only consolation — deep, dark, deathlike solitude.”
“My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy, and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure the violence of the change without torture such as you cannot even imagine.”
“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”
“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851
Somers Town, London
“It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.”
–C.S. Lewis, “Introduction” in St. Athanasius, De Incarnatione Verbi Dei (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1944/1993),