Mary Shelley conceived of her Gothic masterpiece Frankenstein
on a visit to Switzerland in 1816. The country gave her a setting, and her companions, husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and their friend Lord Byron, sparked her imagination with philosophical discussions about the reanimation of the dead. When poor weather kept them housebound, they devised a story-writing contest -- and Mary set out to create a tale "to make the reader dread to look around, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart." The story of Victor Frankenstein, a scientist who oversteps the bounds of conscience, and the monster he creates, was a bestseller in its day -- and remains one of the most spellbinding novels of all time.
Washington Square Press' Enriched Classics present the great works of world literature enhanced for the contemporary reader. This edition of Frankenstein was prepared by Anne K. Mellor, professor of English and women's studies at the University of California in Los Angeles. It includes an introduction, a selection of critical excerpts, suggestions for further reading, and a unique visual essay of drawings and photographs.
Frankenstein, loved by many decades of readers and praised by such eminent literary critics as Harold Bloom, seems hardly to need a recommendation. If you haven't read it recently, though, you may not remember the sweeping force of the prose, the grotesque, surreal imagery, and the multilayered doppelgänger themes of Mary Shelley's masterpiece. As fantasy writer Jane Yolen writes of this (the reviewer's favorite) edition, "The strong black and whites of the main text [illustrations] are dark and brooding, with unremitting shadows and stark contrasts. But the central conversation with the monster--who owes nothing to the overused movie image … but is rather the novel's charnel-house composite--is where [Barry] Moser's illustrations show their greatest power ... The viewer can all but smell the powerful stench of the monster's breath as its words spill out across the page. Strong book-making for one of the world's strongest and most remarkable books." Includes an illuminating afterword by Joyce Carol Oates.