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Frankenstein (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Frankenstein (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Paperback(Revised Text Edition (1831))

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Overview

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering "the cause of generation and life" and "bestowing animation upon lifeless matter," Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises rofound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.

Karen Karbiener received a Ph.D. from Columbia University and currently teaches literature at New York University.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593081157
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 01/30/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Edition description: Revised Text Edition (1831)
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 59
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.64(d)

Read an Excerpt



From Karen Karbiener's Introduction to Frankenstein

Werewolves, vampires, witches, and warlocks have been the stuff of folklore, legend, and nightmare for centuries, yet none have so haunted the public imagination as the monster created by eighteen-year-old Mary Shelley in 1816. From the start, we have been eager to help the monster live off of the page, to interpret the tale for ourselves. Within five years of the novel's initial publication, the first of what would eventually be more than ninety dramatizations of Frankenstein appeared onstage. Shelley herself went to see one of the thirty-seven performances of Presumption that played in London in 1823. Lumbering violently and uttering inarticulate groans, the monster attracted record numbers of theatergoers, as well as a series of protests by the London Society for the Prevention of Vice. Mary was pleased and "much amused" by Thomas Cooke's attempts to portray the monster, and even made a favorable note about the playbill to her friend Leigh Hunt. "In the list of dramatis personae came, --- by Mr. T Cooke: this nameless mode of naming the unameable [sic] is rather good," she wrote on September 11 (Letters, vol. 1, p. 378).

A familiar yet ever-evolving presence on the Victorian stage, the monster also haunted the pages of newspapers and journals. Political cartoonists used Shelley's monster as the representation of the "pure evil" of Irish nationalists, labor reformers, and other favored subjects of controversy; it was often depicted as an oversized, rough-and-ready, weapon-wielding hooligan. In Annals of the New York Stage, George Odell notes that audiences were entertained with photographic"illusions" of the monster as early as the 1870s. And the cinema was barely ten years old before the Edison Film Company presented their version of the story, with Charles Ogle portraying a long-haired, confused-looking giant. Virtually every year since that film's appearance in 1910, another version of Frankenstein has been released somewhere in the world-though the most enduring image of the monster was the one created by Boris Karloff in James Whale's 1931 classic. The creature's huge, square head, oversized frame, and undersized suit jacket still inform most people's idea of what Shelley's monster "really" looks like.

As strange and various as the interpretations of the creature have been, the monster has retained a surprisingly human quality. Even in its most melodramatic portrayals, its innate mortality is made apparent; whether through a certain softness in the eyes, a wistfulness or longing in its expression, or a desperate helplessness in its movements, the creature has always come across as much more than a stock horror device. In fact, several film adaptations have avoided the use of heavy makeup and props that audiences have come to expect. Life Without a Soul (1915) stars a human-looking, flesh-toned monster; and in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), actor Robert DeNiro, who is certainly neither ugly nor of great stature, did not wear the conventional green face paint and restored the monster's eloquent powers of speech.

Like Satan in Paradise Lost, Mary Shelley's monster was given a shadowy and elusive physical presence by its creator. It moves through the story faster than the eye can follow it, descending glaciers "with greater speed than the flight of an eagle" or rowing "with an arrowy swiftness." The blurriness of the scenes in which the monster appears allows us to create his image for ourselves and helps explain why it has inspired so many adaptations and reinterpretations. Certainly, too, both Milton's Satan and Shelley's creature have been made more interesting, resonant, and frightening because they have human qualities. The monster possesses familiar impulses to seek knowledge and companionship, and these pique our curiosity and awaken our sympathies. Its complex emotions, intelligence, and ability to plan vengeful tactics awaken greater fears than the stumbling and grunting of a mindless beast. A closer look at Shelley's singular description of the monster's features reveals its likeness to a newborn infant rather than a "fiend" or "demon": Consider its "shrivelled complexion," "watery eyes," and "yellow skin [that] scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath." The emotional range of De Niro's monster, the gentle childish expression in Karloff's eyes, even the actor Cooke's "seeking as it were for support-his trying to grasp at the sounds he heard" (Letters, vol. 1, p. 378), suggest that we have sensed the monster's humanity all along.

Another trend in the way the monster has been reinterpreted is equally suggestive. Movie titles such as Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), and Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) testify to the fact that the monster has taken on the name of his creator in popular culture. In Frankenstein, the monster is called plenty of names by his creator, from at best "the accomplishment of my toils" to "wretch," "miserable monster," and "filthy daemon"; significantly, Victor never blesses his progeny with his own last name. Our identity of the creature as the title character does, of course, shift the focus from man to monster, reversing Shelley's intention. Reading the book, we realize that Frankenstein's lack of recognizing the creature as his own-in essence, not giving the monster his name-is the monster's root problem. Is it our instinctive human sympathy for the anonymous being that has influenced us to name him? Is it our recognition of similarities and ties between "father" and "son," our defensiveness regarding family values? Or is it simply our interest in convenience, our compelling need to label and sort?

Our confusion of creator and created, as well as our interest in depicting the creature's human side, indicate an unconscious acknowledgment of a common and powerful reading of Frankenstein: that the monster and his creator are two halves of the same being who together as one represents the self divided, a mind in dramatic conflict with itself. Just as Walton notes to his sister the possibility of living a "double existence," even the civilized person is forever in conflict with his or her own monstrous, destructive, even self-destructive side. Indeed, if the monster/creator conflation were to represent the human race in general, Shelley seems to be saying that our struggles with the conflicting impulses to create and destroy, to love and hate, permeate all of human existence. Shelley could not have chosen an idea with more relevance to twentieth- and twenty-first-century readers than humankind's own potential inhumanity to itself. Our ambitions have led us to the point where we, too, can accomplish what Victor did in his laboratory that dreary night in November: artificially create life. But will our plan to clone living organisms or produce life in test tubes have dire repercussions? We build glorious temples to progress and technology, monumental structures that soar toward the heavens; and yet in a single September morning, the World Trade Center was leveled-proving once again that man is his own worst enemy.

In Frankenstein, Shelley exhibits a remarkable ability to anticipate and develop questions and themes peculiarly relevant to her future readers, thereby ensuring its endurance for almost 200 years. To understand why and how this ability developed, we must take a closer look at her life, times, and psychological state. Certainly, Frankenstein details a fascinating experiment, introduces us to vivid characters, and takes us to gorgeous, exotic places. But this text, written by a teenager, also addresses fundamental contemporary questions regarding "otherness" and society's superficial evaluations of character based on appearance, as well as modern concerns about parental responsibility and the harmful effects of absenteeism. Anticipating the alienation of everyday life, Robert Walton and the monster speak to those of us who now live our lives in front of screens of various kinds-computer, television, movie. Other readers may feel stabs of recognition when confronting Victor, a perfectionist workaholic who sacrifices love and friendship in the name of ambition. Frankenstein is a nineteenth-century literary classic, but it is also fully engaged in many of the most profound philosophical, psychological, social, and spiritual questions of modern existence.

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Frankenstein 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1165 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very misunderstood story that sparked a concept that took on a life of it's own. There is no scary castle, no hunchback, or villigars with pitch forks! It is a story not about a monster but about what could happen when man kind tries to play creator. You end up feeling sorry for the creature.
jenmaynard More than 1 year ago
Often considered the first science fiction novel, Mary Shelley had the creative spark for Frankenstein at the age of 18 and first published it as a 22-year-old. A story inspired by other gothic writings, contemporary scientific theories, and by tragedies in her own life (the death of her young child, a father who had disowned her), not to mention her poet husband Percy Shelley (who would drown the following year) and the philosophies of other poets in her young and influential circle of friends, this novel is a thought-provoking and ground-breaking work that has inspired countless stories about our desire to overcome death and our search for what it means to be human. It's not your modern horror thriller or what is generally depicted in film (instead of grunts, Frankenstein's real monster is eloquently tragic), the plot is often plodding, and some current readers might not find this a good read. But for those who enjoy a more philosophically centered gothic tale, Frankenstein is immortal.
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
My first thought on completing Frankenstein was this: I love this book! I really didn't know what to expect when I began reading this. We've all seen Frankenstein and his "monster" portrayed through numerous media outlets and I wasn't sure how any of these compared to the original story created by Mary Shelley. From page one I was drawn in and riveted by the narrative. I was hooked on Victor Frankenstein with his ambition and his creation who showed such strong emotions. Frankenstein's creation is an infantile being born into the body of a monster. We watch as this "monster" teaches himself writing, language, geography, history. He reads from Milton's Paradise Lost and from Plutarch's Lives. Learning brought such joy to him. It was so sad to see the "monster's" attitude toward man (and especially Frankenstein in particular) go from such love and delight to dark feelings and hate. Frankenstein and his race pushed the "monster" away and shunned him because he didn't look like them. They never gave him a chance to prove his worth among them. I believe it was society that created the "monster", and not soley Victor, but it was Victor who reaped the punishment. Frankenstein, the novel, brings up some thought provoking questions dealing with science and life and what it means to be human. You'll have to read the book yourself and draw your own conclusions.

"So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein-more, far more, will I achieve: treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This, in my opinion has to be the most thought provoking in all of literature. I can't think of a novel more worthy of dicussing in a book club or just in general. It's authenticity still rings true in the twenty first century. It is a scientific study of whether or not we should tamper with God's creation or life, itself. This is the story of man's creation resulting in monstrous consequenses. The topic of conversation is regarding whether or not the monster really is a monster. Meaning he is not born monstrous but becomes so because he is shunned and turned away because of his frightening physical appearance. Would the monster be able to live in society with man if man had just given him a fair opportunity? Perhaps, but should he be given that opportunity under unnatural circumstances? After all, he is not human and created by God but by man. The question of who is a worse monster, him or Victor? Victor by far, for allowing the catastrophes to worsen repeatedly without properly handling the situation. The monster was his ruination from the first which goes back to should it have been attempted in the first place? Was it successful?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book!!! I'm not a big fan of Science Fiction novels, but this one was great!!! When reading it, you don't feel like you are reading a Science fiction novel, you feel like you are reading a very sad, disturbing book about when humans should leave nature alone! You will never see Science and progress in it the same after you read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this novel in my Science Fiction class in college. The novel was excellent with great written language, so beautiful. If you a big fan of Frankenstein movies, I would recommend that if you read this novel, don't expect the movies and the novel to be alike. The creature is so different than most of the Hollywood Frankensteins on film. The creature is somewhat a natural philosopher, but I won't give away too much! In other words, this novel is a must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so well writen. Even though it starts slow, the middle to end parts are so well done it makes up for the sluggish start. Also, anyone who says the book isnt well writen probably doesnt have the attention span to finish the first coupple of chapters or was probably expecting frankenstein to fight dracula before the end of the book
The_Booker More than 1 year ago
Should I review a classic? Really, what's the point? This book is historic and mandatory reading for many high schools and a true insight into the European era it was written (1818). Language, thoughts, opinions, attitudes, social classes, locations - it's all there. It's like a time machine and that aspect of the book is fasinating. Then there's the classic elements... This is true gothic horror. It's not blood and guts and "shoot'em up" that is all too necessary to hold an audiences' attention in today's world. "Frankenstein" is psychological terror in the same vein as "what's hiding around the corner." We follow Victor's inner thoughts and paranoia as he sinks deeper and deeper into depression, fear and finally resolve that he must kill the monster he created or die trying. As someone who was an avid reader in high school - but not the mandatory assignments, (my personal classics are more modern works) - it is quite a few years after my graduation. I picked up "Frankenstein" because it is my son's mandatory summer reader. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. But again - reviewing a classic? Okay - some may find this a lame excuse, but I only rated it 4 out of 5 stars because of my upbringing in the modern "shoot'em up" world. The meanings were all there for me - man vs God, man vs woman, etc... But there were too many coincidences within the story that made me shake my head in disbelief. Europe is a continent and not someone's neighborhood where even then it would be difficult to find someone hiding from you. But if you can shut down your reasoning and throw disbelief to the howling wind, "Frankenstein" has the fear factor to keep you awake and wondering at night who or what could be lurking around your neighborhood. One final note: For any high schooler thinking about skipping this mandatory reading assignment and watching the movie instead, just plan on testing for a GED after you wise up. The Boris Karloff version sticks to the book about as closely as the Abbott and Costello film. In fact, check out Gene Wilder in "Young Frankenstein" and write your report on that one. At least your teacher will have a few laughs grading your paper!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The writing style is dated and can be challenging. Once I let the story grab me though, I found a story I only thought I knew. Not a "horror" story by todays standards, but a thought provoking story of science for science sake.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For Mary Shelley to produce such an amazing book as Frankenstein at the age of 21 is outstanding. The way that she has a story within a story-- that’s within a story, was so innovative. Her themes are very poignant and haunting. She explores and questions the boundaries of death, nature, good vs. evil, and justice. It’s very captivating because she explores the deepest and darkest places of human nature. The story begins with Victor Frankenstein’s ambitious love for science. The man goes as far as to cheat death itself, and he certainly heeds the consequences. She suggests that while accomplishing great feats in science, there will always be consequences. Shelley uses Frankenstein’s Monster who at first only desires a connection and human compassion, but he was shunned because of his hideous appearance and soon grows pure hatred for the human race. His heart wrenching self-discovering journey emphasizes on the small human interactions that we may take for granted. It’s just a very conflicting situation for the reader. He does go as far as to murder innocent people out of revenge, but you still can’t help to feel a bit of sorrow and guilt for the poor creature who only wanted the simplest thing in life: love. Mary Shelley’s work will always be a classic work that was ahead of it’s time. It’s an intense and eye opening tale that will stay with the reader for years to come.
Awesomeness1 More than 1 year ago
This book was deep and intellectually stimulated. While the writing was inconsistant, very descriptive in some parts and vague in others, you really had to pay attention or else miss something important. The plot and characters were intriguing, and I wish they were explored more. I never found it thrilling, but it was nice to read. I can see why its a classic and recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is not your typical Frankenstein that you see from Hollywood. It is a great book that you can sit down and read. You read something new in it everytime you read it. Great for conversation in the classroom and book clubs. This book has you think about alot of things that relate to life. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for summer reading. It is a very good book, however my biggest complaint is that Shelly has little emotion when describing the monster. I understand leaving some things to the imagination, however the creation of the monster was way too quick and there was no real emotional tie from Victor to the monster. That was written too fast and did not allow any time for emotional growth. Other than that, it is a great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frankenstein is the simple best book ever written (in my opinion). It relates to various sides of our lives, it is philosophical and exciting to read. It should be a must read for humanity because it teaches important lessons for life. It is very deep and emotional. Please do not think of any horror pictures that misinterpret the book, and thus mislead you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first started reading this book I did not know what to expect. I found myself surprised at the differences between the book and the movie versions I had seen. It is a very well written book and I really liked how Mary Shelly developed the character of the frankenstien monster as an intelligent and lonely creature. The book had a much deeper message than I expected. I was expecting to read just another horror story and found myself stumbling upon a masterpiece.
Anonymous 3 months ago
This is the 4th time I've read this book. I find something new each time. I appreciate it more and more as I get older.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Mary+has+a+bad+tendency+to+ramble+and+repeat...Alot.+I%27m+glad+I+can+at+least+now+say+I%27ve+read+Frankenstein.+
Anonymous 9 months ago
I really like this book i recomend it
ConfuzzledShannon More than 1 year ago
Scientist Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with finding a way to reanimate human life after death. After he successfully fulfills his desire he immediately regrets it, condemning the new horrific life form to live in hiding. As Frankenstein’s new monster learns to understand those around him and his own existence he begins to hate his creator. The monster enacts revenge on Victor by taking away those he loves, only stopping if the doctor does what the monster asks for. The very start of the book reminded me of Moby Dick, at least the little I read of it. Victor Frankenstein obsession with creating life is very much like Ahab’s obsession with finding the whale. Then the middle of the book was like The Picture Of Dorian Grey which a book I really liked and very much about doing good or evil and how it affects those around yourself. It ends again like Moby Dick as Victor new obsession directs him. The middle of the book had me interested because it is really a discussion on what being human is or could be, and regret. Actually, it is about even more than that so much you could a book about and people probably have. I for one not a fan of the scenes where Dr. Frankenstein was channeling Ahab from Moby Dick. His obsession is part of the reason I couldn’t finish Moby Dick. Luckily Frankenstein is much shorter than Moby Dick. I am glad I took the time to read this. It is a book that is so much different than what the movies and tv have done. In fact, there is so much difference in the movies I am really curious why or how they came up with things...like the character Igor...no where in the book. The monster having a square head and bolts on the neck...nope not in the book. I am not a big fan of most classics but this one that I did enjoy.
Hardy_Zuri More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for a college level English class. Even though this book was for an educational purpose at the time needed it, I found it to be exciting and interesting. There was a lot of adventure and guessing to keep me reading and wanting more. Frankenstein is a definite page-turner and will have you thinking about creation and what is considered beauty. The storylines of the characters are beautifully put together, so you can get a mental picture of who they are and what they look like, which is what I love about reading. The characters are exciting within themselves and do not rely on the main character to be interesting. This book will have you thinking about love, beauty, loyalty and family and what those really mean to you. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a small enough book you can toss in your bag and take with you on the go. It is a good read and you get invested in each character and start to feel empathy for the ones you wouldn't even think of. The movie is quite good as well, but the book has more imagination and feeling. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something thought-provoking and interesting. Even though this book is both Gothic and Science fiction it is not dark and dreary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an awesome book . I am glad I bought . For a very old story and horror story of its time. Is very awesome
Pool_Boy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another reviewer commented '...This is verrrrry nineteenth-century Romantic, dramatic and melancholy and doomed destiny, played out over beautiful scenery without and horrible scenery within....' And I agree.While I am glad to have finally read the book, and actually got over the Romantic/Gothic whatever style of the writing (so much so that I could probably read other books from this era), I found it a real chore to finish. I just did not care what happened to anybody -- I never felt hope for Frankenstein, the creature, or the friends and family. Perhaps I am jaded, but it was not a riveting or compelling story to me. The one thing I did enjoy about the book was that it was absolutely nothing like all of the silly movies, pulp fiction rip offs or comics of this original story. And the story, despite my not really liking the whole package that much, was quite original. I really liked the fact that the creature was intelligent and could speak (shockingly well).Ah well, on to new stories.
Cyanide_Cola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. A essential reading for any horror fan. The story itself is timeless. It's one of those books that everyone should read at least once. I enjoyed this book when I read it back in high school and I still love it today.
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This classic by Mary Shelley was one of my favorites as a teenager. After re-reading it, I still feel the same. This book is the story of Dr. Frankenstein and the monster that he created. Immediately repulsed, Dr. Frankenstein rejects the monster, leaving it to roam Europe on its own. After hiding near a family, the monster learns how to talk and communicate and realizes that he is missing companionship. When Dr. Frankenstein refuses to create a companion for him, the monster begins killing his family. Overall, this is a book well worth reading.
mema1106 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Frankenstein clearly represents the romantic tendency of striving against the limitation set by society and our own existance. First, there is an obvious example of Victor Frankenstein pushing his limitations as a human being by striving to play a God-like role. For Victor, it is not satisfying enugh to simply study philosophy and science and to master both subjects. He must continue and perfect the role of the scientist and attempt the impossible, a process that is extremely frustrating. In Frankenstein's perfect search for the perfect human, he creates a monster. Victor Frankenstein is not the only character that strives and challenges the limitations and boundaries set by human society. The monster Victor creates is engaged in his own struggle to communicate with society and to be a part of it. The pain of his multiple rejections and loneliness lead him to believe that "the human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union...if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear..." (Shelley 173). This decision brings the death of all major characters in the novel.This novel is an example of the romantic periods in that it uses a highly stylized and dramatized frame (Marien and Fleming). Frankenstein takes on these romantic characteristics and concerns that are so central to romantic writing and challenges the common use of them. By appropriating elements of the romantic and by combining them with elements that are clearly gothic, Mary Shelley expanded the possibilities of both genres. Sources:Marien, Mary Warner, and William Fleming. Arts & Ideas Vol 2. 10 ed. Belmont, CA. Thomson Wadsworth, 2005.Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Enriched Classics, 2004.