[Read by Anthony Heald, Stefan Rudnicki, Simon Templeman]
A masterpiece of nineteenth-century Gothic horror, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein also has the distinction of being the first science-fiction novel.
Dr. Victor Frankenstein, an ambitious young scientist, is consumed by a fanatic desire to create a living being. He fashions an eight-foot creature and succeeds in animating him but, horrified by his visage, perceives his creation to be a monster and frightens him away. The monster, wandering in search of human companionship, is spurned and repulsed by all he approaches and learns to hate and to kill. He confronts his maker with a terrible choice: unless Frankenstein creates for him a mate, he will go on a rampage of destruction.
A subversive tale about the corrupt tendencies in humanity s most ''civilized'' ambitions, this haunting thriller maintains its hold in the collective imagination centuries after its first publication.
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.