Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Review: Frankenstein

[The Original] Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (w Percy Shelley edits)
2.10.11 - 2.12.11

"I have no ties and no affections, hatred and vice must be my portion. The love of another will destroy the cause of my crimes and I shall become a thing of whose existence every one will be ignorant. My vices are the children of a forced solitude that I abhor, and my virtues will necessary arise when I shall receive the sympathy of an equal" --p172

I just read the version with Percy Shelley's edits, not the newly released "pure" version. Some of (most of) the footnotes were clearly aimed at people who've read it a million times, and it meant there were spoilers. Which is unfortunate. It's difficult to figure out which books you need to have someone hold your hand through with extensive footnotes and editor comments and which are better to explore on your own. Doctor Zhivago, by going it alone, I know I missed a lot. Frankenstein had too much hand-holding.

The novel itself was incredibly intriguing, though. I can see how it's stood up to the test of time so well. The practically constant transition between where your sympathies are pulled was rather thought provoking. Maybe it's due to all the cultural history surrounding the story, but I felt so much sympathy for both the monster and his creator.

Pity for the monster, because he truly is pitiable, is easy--how awful to be designed as something horrifying, and then thrust into a word where everyone reviles you. He's fairly easy to pity.

Frankenstein, though, I more pity for being a man who clearly made a mistake, and continues to pay for it. My sympathy for him is more rooted in knowing what it feels like to be trapped by your own bad choices.

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