We are halfway through Frankenstein. We’d be finished by now but for all the meals and coffees with friends who want empirical evidence that we are alive and “normal” (What is that?). These are inevitably interrupted by people approaching us to say: “You’re alive!” Not only are we alive, but we are healthier than most people: according to our many, many hospital tests, we do not have high blood pressure and our blood sugar is normal. And according to the second opinion of our Chief Mentat and Maester, we did not have encephalitis and do not have cytomegalovirus. Details in the next column.
Frankenstein is fantastic! We now like Mary Shelley better than her husband and most of the Romantics, and she was 18 when she wrote this early science-fiction novel. Our opinion of Frankenstein has been formed and colored by the movie adaptations, so it’s a little shocking to read the original and find that it could be a different movie altogether.
Not that the James Whale movies (See Gods and Monsters starring Ian McKellen in which he does not add an extra syllable to the end of every sentence, and Whatever Happened To Brendan Frasier. It’s about the making of Frankenstein. Avoid the Kenneth Branagh Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with the extended homoerotic wrestling in amniotic fluid featuring Branagh and Robert De Niro. Unless you’re into that.) and Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein (It’s Frankenshteen!) weren’t great, but reading Frankenstein highlights the difference between reading a novel and watching the movie based upon it. The movie you can see unfolding in your head as you read is unique to you. A movie adaptation is other people’s interpretation. That’s why the core fan group always has problems with the adaptation.
Frankenstein reads not just as a cautionary tale about playing god; it is an indictment of the creator. Victor Frankenstein makes his creature and then is horrified by it and abandons it. The creature is left alone to fend for himself, to figure out the complexities of language, to learn how to survive in a very hostile enviroment. His creator shuns him. Why create something in your own image and then abandon it in a world that is indifferent at best, and is trying to kill him at worst?
To be continued. Meanwhile, in Comments, allancarreon and balqis have gone ahead with the discussion of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, focusing on the monumental question: Is Lucy a slut?
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Whether it is due to our recent encounter with brain fever or our fascination with the television series Penny Dreadful we cannot be certain, but suddenly we feel compelled to read the masterworks of 19th century English horror literature, Frankenstein and Dracula. We must admit that despite having seen many film adaptations of the novels by Mary Shelley (including the Mel Brooks classic Young Frankenstein) and Bram Stoker (Gary Oldman in armor that makes him look like a giant insect sends vampire sirens to bite Keanu Reeves and stop him unleashing his British accent), we have never read the source material, for shame (And we were a Comp Lit major).
Therefore we shall attempt to rectify this error most grievous not merely by expressing ourself in this rather florid manner, but by perusing Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stoker’s Dracula and conversing about them with any and all interested parties. Please make yourselves known in Comments.
Our Minister of Propaganda wishes to remind those who would obtain the books to avoid the abridged versions. Those who wish to read them online or to download the free e-books may visit the most dependable Project Gutenberg.
Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
Dracula by Bram Stoker