Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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Frankenstein (full title: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus) is a novel written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and was first published in 1818. The tale itself has passed somewhat into legend by now. It tells the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, a scientist that animates a mass of parts into a living(ish) creature, Frankenstein’s’ monster. Victor Frankenstein, after accomplishing the feat, rejects his creation. He dehumanizes the creature by not giving it that most important trait of a being: a name. Instead, he refers to it epithetically: “wretch”, “monster”, “demon”, “devil”, “it”, and more.

Shelley was only 18 when she began writing the novel and was 20 when it was published, cementing her legacy and making her a staple of the Western canon. The creation of Frankenstein, the novel, is as legendary as the book. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, her lover and future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Polidori were all staying at Villa Diodati during a stormy summer. Over the course of their stay, two of them had written modern day classics and staples of horror:

  • Frankenstein, written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  • The Vampyre, written by John Polidori

The name Frankenstein is thought to have been derived from various places in Germany that carry the name, including Frankenstein Castle (the name itself meaning “stone of the Franks”). Shelley deftly weaved multiple sources and influences into her masterpiece, including Milton’s Paradise Lost and Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

You can buy a critical edition of the book, a 2015 film adaptation, a 2014 film adaptation, and an annotated version of the novel at the corresponding links.