Friday, October 9, 2009

Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

frankenstien audio book image

Book Stats from Amazon:

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: In Audio; MP3 edition (December 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584725117
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584725114

    Synopsis: (may contain spoilers for some)

    This story is a well know horror classic and is an epistolary novel. It is written as a series of letter from an educated English explorer to his sister as he embarks on a journey through the inhospitable icy Northern regions of the world. As he is traveling with his ship and crew, he finds a man half frozen to death traveling on the ice. The captain brings the frozen Doctor Frankenstein onto his ship and nurses him back to consciousness. It is here that Victor Frankenstein's tale unfolds  as he tells his tale to the captain where it is relayed to the reader through the captain’s letters.

  • A bit beyond the basics

    Victor begins by telling his story from his childhood on. He states he is from a wealthy family whom is loving and close. He is educated and is expected to marry his cousin of sorts and is happy to oblige. Being intellectually inclined he studies all the great philosophers of the age, eventually becoming obsessed with creating life from death. When he eventually does this, the man/monster he creates is appalling to him and is relieved when the monster finally disappears.

    The monster, spurned wanders in the wilderness contemplating life where he eventually stumbles upon a family that he grows to adore and wishes for his own. They do not know he exists, as he watches them from afar. In this way the monster learns the ways of the world. When he finally tries to befriend them they are of course horrified and violently reject him. The monster is heartbroken and horrendously distraught. He blames Victor, his creator, and vows to destroy his life completely. The quote below exemplifies his complete distress:

    Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that ... instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery.

    My Thoughts:

    I listened to this novel, unabridged, on audio. It was very pleasant because on this version the reader has an English accent which was wonderful and appropriate for the story. I am not sure if I would have been able to actually read it in written form, since old English can be very difficult. So I recommend audio for experiencing this wonderful classic. I give it 4 stars.

    The story is emotional and it pushes the reader’s feelings toward those of complete and utter despair, both from the Doctor’s perspective and that of the monster’s. The monster himself is not terrifying. He is a lost soul in part a product of his environment. I think that the story is more heartbreaking than it is scary.

    Its link to GLBT:

    One of the reasons I listened to this audio book was because it was designated GLBT in nature. Thinking about it from this perspective I think it is due to the intimate relationships between the main characters, being mostly males, which are very convoluted and intense inferring an intimacy of sorts. I can also see that since GLBT individuals may un-rightly be considered an abomination by some, this may also be a source of connection for the community. The horrible feelings of being an outcast, being shunned by society, family, or father all link to the experiences of the monster.

  • This book is being read for 4 challenges – The Basics Challenge; The Fill in the Gaps; GLBT; and RIPIV.

    Links from Amazon are as close a match as I could find to the version I listened to and may not be currently available. They are listed in the order here US/UK/Canada.


    Amanda said...

    I never thoughts of Frankenstein in GlBt terms. I'm going to have ot reread it with this in mind sometime.

    Unknown said...

    Amanda -
    It was a stretch for me too.
    Perhaps we'll get a comment from someone in the community about it?
    I'm hoping...

    Okie said...

    Nice review.

    It's always nice to have a good reader help through the drier parts of a book. The writing did get a little too expository at times and I wanted to skip ahead.

    Overall it's a very good story and very thought provoking. I love the themes of exclusion, love, revenge, responsibility and humanity. I was very surprised at the depth I found in this book.

    I do also agree with the previous comments that the GLBT seems to be a bit of a stretch. Especially considering just the nature of society at the time. Fraternal relationships were often just as close as those between man and wife. Certainly some of that led to homosexual behavior, but not always. There are a number of 19th century novels considered GLBT without any hint of sexual/romantic interaction between any of the characters.

    Unknown said...

    Okie -
    Thanks. :)

    I am really glad that I listened to it since reading it would not have worked for me. Even my husband who is English had a hard time when I read a section to him. I feel sorry for the kids in high school that are required to read this...they end up being bored to death and hating it.

    I think that for straight folks like yourself and I, we do not completely understand how the subtleties of some writings could be considered to have GLBT undertones because we just don't have that perspective in our world veiw. Have you ever gotten a new car and then for some reason you see cars like yours everywhere? I have - lousy analogy but hey...

    I do not think I have any GLBT readers either so I think we are stuck wondering here if my perceptions are right.

    Thanks for your perspective - it makes writing these reviews more interesting.

    Anonymous said...

    I read this once and was surprised at how gentle a novel it was, considering the movies that are made from it. I do think listening to a British voice reading it would probably be a good thing, considering the slower, 'thinky' parts. Thanks for posting this, Shellie!

    Unknown said...

    Nicole -
    Thanks for the comment :)

    Can you imagine and American accent reading old English? not good.

    I was hoping you would stop by and check out the conversation going on about the GLBT connection here and give us your perspective...

    Krista said...

    I really want to read this....Fantastic Review!

    Anonymous said...

    Hmmmm, my thoughts on the GLBT connection? Well, I cannot say for certain, but I don't think that Mary Shelley wrote it with any GLBT intentions in mind. I can see it, as you said, that the creation is shunned and considered an outcast from society, because of it's 'unnatural' creation, and therein may lie the GLBT connection. I don't think that the male relationships or friendships in the book would carry a homosexual undertone, more of mentor-mentee, father-son tone. But I'm not in the community so perhaps there's something there I'm not seeing.

    Andrea said...

    I've actually never read Frankenstein and I've never felt compelled too, but has always sounded interesting. It was a good idea to listen to it instead of read it. I'm sure that it made it much easier. Maybe I should try that too.

    Unknown said...

    Krista -
    Thanks a bunch - be prepared for old fashioned English - it is bloody boring. I will be curious to see what you think and if you get through it.

    Nicole -
    Good point about Mary Shelley not having the GLBT relationship in mind. Thanks -
    Always up for a good book discussion :)
    I am currently reading/listening to Dracula - which has also been labeled GLBT. And of interest to you since your book is about "blood suckers". :)

    Andrea -
    Definitely listen to this - I am doing a bunch of old classics this way when I exercise.
    Listening to these books reminds me of when I was a kid and couldn't read well. I loved being read to.

    Take Care -
    Have a great weekend.

    Laurel-Rain Snow said...

    This sounds intriguing, even though these creatures are not my thing! LOL

    Anonymous said...

    That is VERY interesting to note about Dracula; I really hadn't thought of it from the GLBT standpoint either. I suppose the relationship between Renfield and Dracula? The three brides? Hmmmm.

    Makes me wonder if my book will be classified as GLBT, as it does feature lesbian characters in a definite female/female relationship. There's no guessing.

    Unknown said...

    Nicole -
    Cool - don't tell me any more please *spoilers* :) - Yes I think that both would be labeled such if both contain would be bi or gay relationships... very interesting.

    I am now intrigued even more by both books - Dracula and yours.
    btw the first several chapters of yours are very promising. I will be posting a "preview" of your book next week...I am a bit backed up. "blogger block" lol.

    Unknown said...

    Laurel -
    I love horror - monsters, demons, devils, zombie....

    For you I would be tempted to recommend that you take a miss then.

    But - like I said the books is not really monster horror its about much more. There is little gore. Its more about emotional horror - Pain, loss, rejection, murder, and choices made because of that pain.

    They torture kids in high school with this stuff and have cliff note books about the intellectual implications and its meaning.....

    If you do audio is the way to go.... at least its not Shakespearean, but almost.

    Anonymous said...

    Very cool I had never considered a GLB. connection before, I will have to look again at Frankenstein. I have seen it read as a metaphor for motherhood and fears of motherhood, you know things like: will my child be normal, will my child kill me in child birth, will I love my child will I hate them etc, all reflective of the fears that may have accompanied child birth in the past. Mary had her first child die early and I think her mother had died of the complications of child birth and she had all sorts of confict with her partner Shelly feeding into her thinking, so I know some readers have seen it as a metaphor for the complex way we can approach motherhood, all the dark fears that can accompany it. I also found the language and style a little difficult when I first read it. It is such a unique book. Loved your review.

    Unknown said...

    Book Pusher -
    Very cool connection about motherhood - which now that you have pointed it out I can see.

    I noticed that as I was looking over the book, as an addition to the audio, that there was a forward by her husband and he wrote it almost as if he has written Frankenstein himself. I thought it was her at first. I was wondering about that relationship when I read it. So I am thinking he was a bit controlling - Women had none of the freedoms we are accustomed to in this era....

    Thanks for the compliment and I really appreciate your input about the book. :)

    (Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

    That cover is so so "Frankenstein". Glad u enjoyed the audio version.

    Unknown said...

    Diane -
    It is a great cover - you know on goodreads they have over 100 versions of the book. It is amazing.

    I'm so glad that I found it in audio - I believe I would have abandoned it otherwise. :)

    Thanks for commenting.

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