Yesterday I finished reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I liked it.
Images and ideas based upon this almost 200 year old book have steeped into culture so much I do not need to give a summary. It should be noted that Victor Frankenstein is the person who creates and enlivens the creature. The creation/monster is not named in the book.
I have a complaint about the book. A couple of Frankenstein's actions are not in character. I do not want to give away important details of the book (like the introduction and text notes of my edition did), but I will provide one example.
After Frankenstein finishes his creation and gives him life, he runs away from his creation. It is very hard for me to imagine a scientist running away from the success of his greatest experiment. Any scientist who cares about his work would be obsessed with observing and studying every detail of his great creation.
Reading the introduction of my Barnes and Noble classic edition, I was reminded of every reason why I do not like literary criticism. Almost any theory can be applied to anything. I had no idea this one novel had incestuous undertones and a man suffering from postpartum depression. The blurb on the back of the book only prepared me for a story that dealt with the nature of life, the place of humankind within the cosmos, and what responsibilities we have to each other. This summary drawing explains my feelings.
As if that was not enough, the introduction revealed critical details of the story that followed it. It takes a special kind of story killer to mention the book's final scene in the first paragraph of an introduction.
In defense of the introduction and story killing notes, they brought up a lot of interesting things. The biographical information about Shelley and what books she was influenced by illuminate many things. It seems she was surrounded by literary figures of the Romantic period.
There is one bias I must admit. Ever since I first heard about the Romantics in English class in high school I have been suspicious of them. After hearing my teacher Brother Aquinas talk about Romantic writers I thought equating them with important literary figures was a mistake.
Check out the original Frankenstein and his creation. The book is short at only 200 pages.