Frankenstein: A Norton Critical Edition / Edition 1 available in Paperback
The text of this Norton Critical Edition is that of the 1818 first edition, published in three volumes by Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, and Jones, in which only obvious typographical errors have been corrected. This text represents what Frankenstein's first readers encountered and is the text favored by scholars. A special critical section, Composition and Revision, includes essays by M. K. Joseph and Anne Mellor that address the issues surrounding teachers' choice of text.
Contemporary perspectives of the text are provided in two sections: Contexts helps place the novel in relation to the mind of its creator through writings by Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and John William Polidori; Nineteenth-Century Responses collects six reactions to the book from the years 1818 to 1886.
Criticism brings together twelve seminal essays. The emphasis is on rangeboth critical (psychoanalytic, mythic, new historicist, and feminist essays are included) and chronological (essays span the last thirty years). Christopher Small, George Lebine, Ellen Moers, Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Barbara Johnson, Mary Poovey, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, William Veeder, Anne K. Mellor, Susan Winnett, Marilyn Butler, and Lawrence Lipking provide diverse perspectives.
A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.
About the Author
J. Paul Hunter is Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Reluctant Pilgrim: Defoe’s Emblematic Method and Quest for Form in Robinson Crusoe; Occasional Form: Henry Fielding and the Chains of Circumstance; and Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction. He is author of the first nine editions of The Norton Introduction to Poetry and the long-time co-editor of The Norton Introduction to Literature and New Worlds of Literature.
Read an Excerpt
To Mrs. Saville, England St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17
You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings. I arrived here yesterday; and my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare, and increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking.
I am already far north of London; and as I walk in the streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves, and fills me with delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my day dreams become more fervent and vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is for ever visible, its broad disk just skirting the horizon, and diffusing a perpetual splendour. Therefor with your leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigatorsthere snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm sea, we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable globe. Its productions and features may be without example, as the phenomena of the heavenly bodies undoubtedly are in those undiscovered solitudes. What may not be expected in a country of eternal light? I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle; and may regulate a thousand celestial observations, that require onlythis voyage to render their seeming eccentricities consistent for ever. I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man. These are my enticements, and they are sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death, and to induce me to commence this laborious voyage with the joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat, with his holiday mates, on an expedition of discovery up his native river. But, supposing all these conjectures to be false, you cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on all mankind to the last generation, by discovering a passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected by an undertaking such as mine.
These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which I began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven; for nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purposea point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. This expedition has been the favourite dream of my early years. I have read with ardour the accounts of the various voyages which have been made in the prospect of arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole. You may remember that a history of all the voyages made for purposes of discovery composed the whole of our good uncle Thomas's library. My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading. These volumes were my study day and night, and my familiarity with them increased that regret which I had felt, as a child, on learning that my father's dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me to embark in a seafaring life.
These visions faded when I perused, for the first time, those poets whose effusions, entranced my soul, and lifted it to heaven. I also became a poet, and for one year lived in a Paradise of my own creation; I imagined that I also might obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated. You are well acquainted with my failure, and how heavily I bore the disappointment. But just at that time I inherited the fortune of my cousin, and my thoughts were turned into the channel of their earlier bent.
Six years have passed since I resolved on my present undertaking. I can, even now, remember the hour from which I dedicated myself to this great enterprise. I commenced by inuring my body to hardship. I accompanied the whale-fishers on several expeditions to the North Sea; I voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep; I often worked harder than the common sailors during the day, and devoted my nights to the study of mathematics, the theory of medicine, and those branches of physical science from which a naval adventure might derive the greatest practical advantage. Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate in a Greenland whaler, and acquitted myself to admiration. I must own I felt a little proud, when my captain offered me the second dignity in the vessel and intreated me to remain with the greatest earnestness so valuable did he consider my services.
And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose? My life might have been passed in ease and luxury; but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path. Oh, that some encouraging voice would answer in the affirmative! My courage and my resolution is firm; but my hopes fluctuate, and my spirits are often depressed. I am about to proceed on a long and difficult voyage, the emergencies of which will demand all my fortitude: I am required not only to raise the spirits of others, but sometimes to sustain my own, when theirs are failing.
This is the most favourable period for travelling in Russia. They fly quickly over the snow in their sledges; the motion is pleasant, and, in my opinion, far more agreeable than that of an English stage-coach. The cold is not excessive, if you are wrapped in fursa dress which I have already adopted; for there is a great difference between walking the deck and remaining seated motionless for hours, when no exercise prevents the blood from actually freezing in your veins. I have no ambition to lose my life on the post-road between St Petersburgh and Archangel.
I shall depart for the latter town in a fortnight or three weeks; and my intention is to hire a ship there, which can easily be done by paying the insurance for the owner, and to engage as many sailors as I think necessary among those who are accustomed to the whale-fishing. I do not intend to sail until the month of June; and when shall I return? Ah, dear sister, how can I answer this question? If I succeed, many, many months, perhaps years, will pass before you and I may meet. If I fail, you will see me again soon, or never.
Farewell, my dear, excellent Margaret. Heaven shower down blessings on you, and save me, that I may again and again testify my gratitude for all your love and kindness.
Your affectionate brother, R. Walton
From the Paperback edition.
Table of Contents
Monsters, Visionaries, and Mary Shelley.
Edmund Burke, “On the Sublime and the Beautiful,” from A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful.
Mary Wollstonecraft, from A Vindication of the Rights of Men.
William Gilpin, from Picturesque Travel.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere, 1798.
Mary Wollstonecraft, Jemima's Story from Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman.
Mary Godwin (Shelley), journal entries.
Percy Shelley, from Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude.
Mary Shelley, from History of a Six Weeks' Tour.
Percy Shelley, Mont Blanc.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, Canto 3 from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage III.
George Gordon, George Gordon, Lord Byron, A Fragment.
Richard Brinsley Peake, from Frankenstein, A Romantic Drama.
Mary Shelley, from a letter to E. J. Trelawny.
Dr. Benjamin Spock, “Enjoy Your Baby,” from Baby and Child Care.
Milton's Satan and Romantic Imaginations.
The King James Bible, Genesis, Chapters 2 and 3.
John Milton, from Paradise Lost.
William Godwin, from “An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, “Prometheus.”
John Keats, To One Who Has Been Long in City Pent.
John Keats, Marginalia to Paradise Lost.
William Hazlitt, “On Shakespeare and Milton,” from Lectures on the English Poets.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Preface Prometheus Unbound.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, from A Defence of Poetry.
Thomas De Quincey, “What Do We Mean by Literature?”
What the Reviews Said.
John Wilson Croker, Quarterly Review, January 1818.
Walter Scott, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, March 1818.
Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany, March 1818.
Belle Assemblàe, March 1818.
The British Critic, April 1818.
Gentleman's Magazine, April 1818.
Monthly Review, April 1818.
The Literary Panorama and National Register, June 1818.
Knight's Quarterly Magazine, August 1824.
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, March 1823.
London Morning Post, July 1823.
George Canning, remarks in the House of Commons, March 1824.
Knight's Quarterly Magazine, August 1824.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Anthenfum, November 1832.
Further Reading and Viewing.
What People are Saying About This
Out of that vampire-laden fug of gruesomeness known as the English Gothic Romance, only the forbidding acrid name of Frankenstein remains in general usage... Mary Shelley had courage, she was inspired. Frankenstein has entertained, delighted and harrowed generations of readers to this day.
Praise for Penguin Horror Classics:
“The new Penguin Horror editions, selected by Guillermo del Toro, feature some of the best art-direction (by Paul Buckley) I've seen in a cover in quite some time.” – Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
"Each cover does a pretty spectacular job of evoking the mood of the title in bold, screenprint-style iconography." – Dan Solomon, Fast Company
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The author Mary Shelley brings up many social issues that are still relevant in the world of today in her story Frankenstein. She really made me question who was the real monster in the story. Although her choice of words were redundant and hard to read sometimes I really loved the message in the book about not judging people based on their appearance. The creature is purposely made out to be this intelligent being who is compassionate and loving which is something Victor lacks he is a very selfish human. I like that she chose to do that in her story because it changes your perspective on appearances and what actually makes a person good. I truly think this book is timeless because it will always be relatable since society will always appeal to looks and they things they deem beautiful. I also liked the scientific aspect in the story about reanimation, a very interesting concept which she beautifully incorporated in the story. Overall I liked this book and all the topics that are brought up, I highly recommend.
There are two main versions of Frankenstein that are used. This one is based on the 1818 version, and includes footnotes and bonus material in the back. A great read!
Fantastic, filled with both vivid emotions and exciting action, Mary Shelley's story of the haunted Victor Frankenstein, and his creation who does the haunting, still stirs the soul. Just as Goethe's Faust sought the secrets of arcane knowledge, Victor Frankenstein engages in the secrets of both licit and illicit science to bring a being to life. Once this is accomplished he immediately rues his action and spends the rest of the novel trying through a variety of means to atone for his mistake.The novel is a classic tale of the uncanny which, according to the novelist and critic David Lodge, invariably use "I" narrators, imitating documentary forms of discourse like confessions, letters and depositions to make events more credible. Beginning with letters from Mr. R. Walton, whose own search for the source of the magnetic north pole mirrors Victor Frankenstein's quest, the first book of the novel relates Victor Frankenstein's narrative of his youth and education. The center of the novel continues Victor's story and that of his creation, the monster. Victor's emotions seem to swing from the the heights of elation to the depths of despair coloring his actions and clouding his reason. I found the monster's narration to be the most persuasive of the two. He pleads with Victor, " Remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed."(p 66) Victor is unable to satisfy him and the monster who searches for acceptance throughout attempts to exert power over his creator as he tells him, "You are my creator, but I am your master; -obey!"(p 116) His words and actions only serve to speed the descent of Victor.I saw the monster as a classic example of "the other", a precursor to modern images much as those found in Kafka. The action builds effectively through the third book of the novel building suspense and leading to the tragic ending. The power of the book, however, remains in the questions it raises; questions that we are dealing with to this day.
Unbelievable. This book was the core text for my undergrad dissertation on the psychology of horror fiction. It's just incredible how saturated this book is with psychological undertones... not just in regards the plot and characters but also the interconnections with the author herself. There is not one single text I would put above this on a scale of writing genius! Just incredible! Loved it!
The critical edition includes the 1818 edition of Frankenstein, plus annotations and critical articles (primary sources and secondary sources). In general, it is aimed at undergraduate students of English and Literature. Also, it is highly useful for writing essais and for writing thematic index cards.
I am soooo glad I didn't toss this book back into the pile after the first twenty pages. It begins with several letters from a ship's captain nearing the artic circle and Victor Frankenstein is not formally introduced; rather, his name is suddenly dropped into the story circa page 25 or so. By sticking to reading it, however, I entered the most wonderful black gothic horror I've read from that time (early 19th century). The reason it gets four stars rather than five is the unbelieveability of two bits in the plot, e.g., The monster is born without any knowledge of language, but he spends a year or two watching a family and then begins to speak to his Maker in language approximating an Oxford Don, and (2) there is less than a page on Victor Frankenstein making his monster. Shelly doesn't even go into the details of "the materials" he collects to make his man. And you could really jump on this one: why did he make an eight foot man? Why such a disfigured face? He could have any face he wanted; any form he wanted. In short, the whole book is way too prepostorous for it be a classic today, if initiated today. However, it was initiated at a time when literary fantasy simply didn't much exist. If you take up this title, I suggest you suck grapes or melon for the first two score pages, but you will surely become engrossed soon, maybe (to be sure) faster than I.
I really enjoyed this book. It had vivid details telling every little description that you needed to know. i have always been interested in science and this book , but this is the first time that I have the chance to read it. I love how science and the creation of this monster where used together and this is why i think that that this book will grab you atention and not let go . Everyone loves to hear and humans being created now this is and it is pissed and ready to get what it wants.i highly recommend reading this book if you and not weak at heart. This book has everything from love to death and even a little compassion. you will love it.
I really enjoyed the book Frankenstien. It was definetly an eye opener for all the selfish people out there. It showed the consequences of caring only for one passion. I think we would all agree if Victor had listened to his proffessor or Henry everything would have turned ot alright. But on the other hand that is what made the book Frankenstein. Overall this book was definetly good and should be read my many students.
Frankenstein is the best thriller i have read all year. It kept me off the edge of my seat. It made me want to read more.This suspenseful book has an most outrageous ending that you will have to find out when you buy this book.