Hello and welcome to my 3rd Favourite Books post! I said in my first one that the books I post about will be a mix of old and new, and this is definitely an oldie – Mary Shelley originally published Frankenstein anonymously in 1818, and republished it under her name in 1830. It’s the 1830 version most people read, though I have got the 1818 version on the to-read list.
When I found out I was going to be studying this for my English A2, I was very excited – the gothic genre is fascinating to me, and this is one of the original gothic tales. I’d wanted to read it for a long time, and finally I was being made to sit down and actually do it.
I feel like with a lot of classics, you read them the first time and unless you’re particularly used to the language and style of older novels, it takes a good re-read before you really get them. With Frankenstein, this was true for various members of my class, but I really got on with it the first time round. However, in the two further times I read the book before the exam (let’s not talk about how terribly that exam went through no fault of my own), it really solidified my love for this book.
Shelley’s narrative is so intriguing, because the entire book is a framed narrative – the character Robert Walton is actually the one in charge of the tale, recounting Victor Frankenstein’s words as he remembers them. And when it comes to other characters’ tales, like the monster himself, it’s then their narrative recounted by Frankenstein recounted by Walton.
No seriously though, it’s really a brilliant narrative. When you read it after the first time, the tone and characters really come to life, and to be honest, I don’t feel like any Frankenstein film has ever done Shelley justice (mainly because for some reason they insist on getting certain parts purposely wrong for some reason I cannot fathom).
The funny thing about it is that as the tale develops, people seem to go one of three ways: 1) they feel sorry for the monster, 2) they feel sorry for Victor (rarer), or 3) they feel sorry for both the monster AND Victor.
I fall into the third category, though most people in my class seemed to be the first – if you’ve read it, let me know what category you fall into. I just love that the book has so much more than superficial meaning, and it truly is timeless, despite its very Romantic setting. If you don’t often venture into classics, this should definitely be one you consider.
Others in my Favourite Books Series: