Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by Mary Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen and the novel was published when she was nineteen. The first edition was published anonymously in London in 1818. Shelley's name appears on the second edition, published in France. The novel begins on a ship sailing north of the Arctic Circle, where the captain spots a figure traveling across the ice on a dog sled. This is Victor Frankenstein's creature, and close behind is Dr. Frankenstein himself. Invited onto the boat, the weak and ill Doctor tells the story of his alchemical studies and eventual construction of a man from inanimate matter.
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.