The Classics Club: Frankenstein


  • Author: Mary Shelley

I’ve meant to read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for years, and I’ve had the Barnes and Noble’s Classics ebook edition for nearly as long as I’ve owned my Nook.  The story is also included in a horror classics anthology I own, titled Penny Dreadfuls: Sensational Tales of Terror.  Since the Boyfriend and I are currently sharing my Nook, I shifted back and forth between the two editions.

My reason for finally getting around to reading Frankenstein was my recent introduction to the show “Penny Dreadful.”  It’s full of characters and references from Gothic and Victorian Horror stories.  While it’s not necessary to enjoy the show, I wanted to be able to recognize and get a better understanding of all those seemingly minor but very important details as well as know where the original stories differ from how they’re portrayed in the show.  Since, the first season includes Dr. Frankenstein and his monster as part of the storyline, I thought it was about time to read one of the most well-known classic Gothic tales.  I’m glad I did.

As with much of Gothic Horror, Frankenstein is more about what it means to be human in a world where Science seems to be constantly redefining humanity.  While Shelley doesn’t go quite as far into the realm of Existentialism as Robert Louis Stevenson does in his story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (written more than half a century later) the beginnings of the philosophy can be seen in her work.  It’s also obvious that Shelley was heavily influenced by the Romantics, my other favorite literary period, and concerned with the route that Science and Industry were taking in the name of “Progress.”  We’re still dealing with these questions and concerns today, almost 200 years later.  Just how relevant Frankenstein still is can be seen in the long list of adaptations and re-tellings of the story that exist, and I highly recommend reading it.