Friday, November 21, 2014

Reflecting on Frankenstein

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 profound, 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.
I say reflection because this isn't my first time reading Frankenstein, nor do I feel that I'm actually qualified [despite my degrees and the like] to offer up anything close to an actual review of it.

The first time that I read Frankenstein I was in my senior year of high school; I remember distinctly sitting in the classroom, this was back when everyone actually had to read along with each other, being bored to tears because my classmates were taking so long to get through the book. I actually had my thumb on the place where they were at within the text, had an ear tuned to them so that I could flip back if necessary, and was reading ahead. However I don't actually remember anything of what I read. I remember the movie we watched alongside the novel far more clearly, though even that only comes to me in bits and pieces.

Needless to say Frankenstein was always a book that I meant to come back to after some time had passed so that I could give it a thorough reading. Like most books that get put into that category my copy sat gathering dust on my TBR shelf for years after I had initially purchased it despite the fact that it was by a female author, always a plus for me when it comes to classics, and it was an extremely thin volume. Then a group that I follow on Goodreads decided to make it their group read for the month of October and it just so happened to coincide with my free trial of Kindle Unlimited which basically meant that I could listen to the audiobook for free. BINGO!

For me listening to Frankenstein made all of the difference, which made having to read the last thirty pages since my subscription to the free audiobook had expired that much more depressing. There was something about hearing the words read out loud that made them stand out so much more to me, having it read to me made it feel like so much more than just a "stuffy old classic". The emotions felt real, the language was beautiful, and I just GOT it. Everything just clicked for me and I fell in love with it the way that I always thought I would. I also discovered a sympathy for the "monster" that wasn't really brought up in a classroom setting as our particular classroom focused primarily on the Victor whom I found myself wanting to slam against a wall for his foolishness. There's just so much to be learned from the experience; the experience of reading the book that is, not slamming Victor Frankenstein against a wall. Now then, I'm not saying that it's my new favorite book or anything, but I thoroughly enjoyed it in a way that I'm not necessarily sure I would have if I had muddled through on my own. And it was very worth the read.


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