Dr. Frankenstein learns the secret of imparting life to inanimate matter. To test his theories, he collects bones from the charnel-houses to construct a "human" being, and then gives it life. The creature, endowed with supernatural size and strength, is revolting to look at, and frightens all who see it. Lonely and miserable, it comes to hate its creator. The monster murders Frankenstein's brother and his bride, and flees. The doctor pursues his creation in order to destroy it, but dies himself in the attempt. The story of Frankenstein was first written as a ghost story to be told as part of a contest between Mary Shelley, her husband, and Lord Byron. This tale of terror has been a world favorite since it was first published in 1818, and has been made into countless movies.
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.