Mary Shelley's poignant exploration of the true depths of ambition and humanity has had a profound effect on readers since its conception in 1816. When scientist Victor Frankenstein forms a creature from the body parts of corpses, thus shattering the perceived limits of scientific understanding, the consequences are devastating on both a personal and a wider level. Our natural sympathies are challenged as Frankenstein becomes disgusted with his creation, who, in turn, begins to suffer from an acute sense of loneliness. When his desire for a companion is thwarted, he vows to take revenge upon Frankenstein. What ensues is singularly chilling in this gothic classic, which has spawned numerous film and theatre interpretations.
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.