Monster, circa 1818

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This is not a book I would have chosen to read, but it was our book club selection for August, so read it I did. And I’m glad—even though I didn’t exactly enjoy the reading experience.

This book was intended to be a tale of horror, and I think it succeeds—though the horror in this case seems more like an overwhelming sense of dread and foreboding.

The idea that sticks with me, after having read the book, is that we should be careful what we wish for. Victor Frankenstein, in creating the monster, became the source of his own destruction. This is succinctly conveyed in a single sentence: The monster, to Frankenstein: “You are my creator, but I am your master: obey!” (p. 212)

Occasionally, throughout the book, I was vexed with Frankenstein for simply watching the monster walk off to wreak havoc. Why, for goodness’ sake, did he not pursue and destroy the monster? Instead, there were moments when he hid in his rooms, writhing in agony. I suppose this is one facet of human nature—to try to believe that if one ignores the problem, it will go away. Still, I wanted to give him a good talking-to.

Shelley wrote in the florid style of the age (the book was first published in 1818!) which is not my favorite stuff to read. But I think she carries it off well.

All in all, a thought-provoking book—and a terrific choice for a book discussion.

2 thoughts on “Monster, circa 1818

  1. I started & quit on this one a few years ago..ok, a LOT of years ago. I'd like to try it again. I've always been impressed that teenaged Mary kicked Byron and Shelley's butts at the ghost story contest.

  2. She really did outshine those guys. (I love it!) The book rather drags through the middle, but if you manage to slog through that part, it's worthwhile in the end. But… if it never calls to you again, that's OK!

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