Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus (1818) is a combination of Gothic horror story and science fiction first conceived for a writing challenge by Lord Byron when she was just eighteen. It is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a Swiss student of natural science who assembles pieces of corpses to create an artificial man and brings it to life with galvanism. Though it seeks affection, the unnamed monster inspires fear and loathing . . .
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.