It is heading for 200 years since Mary Shelley put pen to paper and produced one of the all time Gothic horror greats in the form of the novel, Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus.
This year (2012) from Red Rattle Books comes the original 1818 edition of Frankenstein in a new book edited by Claire Bazin and containing eight short essays offering different perspectives on Shelley’s work.
Like a lot of people my age, I first came across Frankenstein in movies such as the Hammer Film Production, The Horror of Frankenstein starring Ralph Bates and re-runs of the earlier (1957) movie, The Curse of Frankenstein.
Teenagers love a good ghost story and the continuing popularity of Dracula and Frankenstein in various forms in contemporary culture shows the enduring appeal of tragic dark tales. Perhaps, as Claire Bazin puts it in the Introduction to Frankenstein Galvanized, “We need stories about horror and the supernatural to calm us”.
At university in the late 1970s, Mary Shelley was on the syllabus and I was struck then, as I still am today, by what an easy and entertaining read Frankenstein is despite it having been written such a long time ago. The 1818 edition of the text which Red Rattle Books has selected for publication is about 2,000 words shorter than the 1831 edition and runs to just over 200 pages excluding the analysis and commentary, the latter making up the ‘galvanized’ element of Red Rattle Books edition.
The eight essays offer differing insights and interpretations of the text. They are mostly short and a serious student will have to look a little further afield, but for the general reader they provide some thinking and talking points and might be particularly useful for any book clubs that might be considering exploring the gothic horror genre. The essays are:
- Frankenstein : the gothic creation of an unbridled mind by Marion Sones Marceau
- Collecting the Materials : anatomical practice and the material body in Frankenstein by Laurence Talairach Vielmas
- Frankenstein and the British Workers by Jim Mowatt
- Robert Walton, from Ulysses to Homer: the act of writing in Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Samia Ounought
- Considering Reception: the definitition of what an artist is not in Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus by Samia Ounought
- The Finishing Touch by Howard Jackson
- Locke’s Child in the Carnivore’s Kitchen by Katy Masuga
- Monster and Monster-text by Claire Bazin.
There is also a short and interesting introduction to the text by Claire Bazin.
Frankenstein Galvanized edited by Claire Bazin is published by Red Rattle Books. ISBN 978-1-909086-01-2. Stg£9.99.
A free copy of Frankenstein Galvanized was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.