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I'm a single Mormon Democrat, an NPR & BBC news junkie, a dog lover, opera buff, bookavore, migraineur, knows just enough about technology to be a danger to myself, fan of James Bond and Godzilla. 

Micah 6:8; D&C 11:20 

"do justly, walk humbly, judge righteously."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

O, my fevered mind... well almost! The thoughts that come to you while listening to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein courtesy of Blackstone Audio and via my local library's Overdrive site. This book was excellently narrated by Simon TemplemanAnthony Heald, and Stefan Rudnicki.

What thoughts? Firstly, the ambivalent nature of the creature. It seems to me that he did not have to be as he ended up. At any point in the narrative, it could have turned up differently. In many ways, he was more human than his Creator. I am sure I am not the first to notice the analogies with religion in this novel. Was Mary Shelley conflicted in her own faith? I am sure I could find writing to say she was. (After all, she was living in sin for years. She probably had her own issues with the faith of the time.)

Victor created this creature and then abandoned it. It disgusted him and rather than taking the responsibility and destroy the creature, he turned his back. I suppose you could say that God turned His back on us when He ejected us from the Garden of Eden. (Though I don't really think that's true. God has always kept in contact with us. And wants us to return to Him.) Victor just wanted the Creature to be gone. 

The Creature, you end up feeling sorry for. He could've been different at any point. What if Victor had been there through his "childhood" and education? What if mankind hadn't been repelled by him? What if Victor had created the female and let him go?

Also, while our own (and Victor's) Creator takes responsibility for us, Victor never really does. He never allows any blame for the Creature's actions or even its Creation. He seems to believe that the Creation was a good thing. That it was just the extent of Man's intelligence and desire for more knowledge. Somehow ethics doesn't come into it. In the end, he doesn't seem to think his actions affect his soul or where he goes after death. 

The denouement of the novel occurs between September 9-12. This got me thinking of Al Qaeda. After all, in a way, they are our government's Frankenstein Monster. We funded them, we armed them, and then turned our backs. They became bitter and wanted revenge against us. They attacked us. Is there a relevance? Or do I just think this way because of the date. Who knows?

An additional comment: it had been a while since I read the actual book so I guess I forgot the actual ending, which had been replaced by the ending in the Kenneth Branagh production of Frankenstein. Sad, but true.

I am going to give this 4 stars on Good Reads - I loved the beauty of the language and the very Gothic feel. Oh, for the days, that people wrote letters as long as this. Or even diary entries this vivid and exacting. Sadly, I do not keep a diary. I wish I did. But, I can barely write a blog posting with regularity.

(This book was the October read for the Classic Science Fiction Book Club)

2 comments:

  1. Interesting, Kirsten. But do you think that Frankenstein had the right to kill the creature, just because he'd created it?

    People create children every day, but you're not allowed to kill your own creation. A person has rights. (True, when you become a person is debatable, so maybe you don't think the creature was a person at first?)

    I don't know if you believe in a literal Garden of Eden (if not, admittedly, nothing in Christian doctrine makes any sense), but would a supernatural creator have the right to kill people, either? Why?

    Certainly, abandoning the creature, without taking any responsibility for its fumbling attempts to make sense of the world, was wrong. But killing the creature wouldn't have been any more moral, would it? The only right thing to do would have been to supervise it and teach it.

    I do think you're right about the parallels with Christianity. I'm sure that was deliberate, though I'm not sure of her point. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay interested long enough to finish the book (ironic, given my avatar, huh?). Frankenstein was just too unappealing a character for me.

    But your review does a good job in showing why the story has lasted. It gives us a lot to think about, doesn't it?

    PS. I don't think the U.S. government created the Al Qaeda monster. Religion did that.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! Our supernatural Creator to answer one of your comments did kill people (i.e., the Flood, Sodom & Gomorrah).

      As to whether Victor Frankenstein had the "right", I think he would've been obligated to in some sense. He was obligated to make sure that his creation was no threat to society at large.

      PS - In one sense we did create Al Qaeda. They did not exist before we supported the uprising in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. After we just left them, they rose up out of that.

      It can be argued that most Islamic fundamentalists would not have become as powerful if not for our actions in the Middle East. But that is for another posting.

      Thank you again.

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