Cover image for Frankenstein
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Naxos Audiobooks, p2011
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7 sound discs (9 hrs., 8 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
A monster assembled by a scientist from parts of dead bodies develops a mind of his own as he learns to loathe himself and hate his creator.


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Mary Shelly's classic tale of terror is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young student, who learns the secret of imparting life into a creature that he has constructed from corpses he finds.

Author Notes

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in England on August 30, 1797. Her parents were two celebrated liberal thinkers, William Godwin, a social philosopher, and Mary Wollstonecraft, a women's rights advocate. Eleven days after Mary's birth, her mother died of puerperal fever. Four motherless years later, Godwin married Mary Jane Clairmont, bringing her and her two children into the same household with Mary and her half-sister, Fanny. Mary's idolization of her father, his detached and rational treatment of their bond, and her step-mother's preference for her own children created a tense and awkward home. Mary's education and free-thinking were encouraged, so it should not surprise us today that at the age of sixteen she ran off with the brilliant, nineteen-year old and unhappily married Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Shelley became her ideal, but their life together was a difficult one. Traumas plagued them: Shelley's wife and Mary's half-sister both committed suicide; Mary and Shelley wed shortly after he was widowed but social disapproval forced them from England; three of their children died in infancy or childhood; and while Shelley was an aristocrat and a genius, he was also moody and had little money.

Mary conceived of her magnum opus, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, when she was only nineteen when Lord Byron suggested they tell ghost stories at a house party. The resulting book took over two years to write and can be seen as the brilliant creation of a powerful but tormented mind. The story of Frankenstein has endured nearly two centuries and countless variations because of its timeless exploration of the tension between our quest for knowledge and our thirst for good.

Shelley drowned when Mary was only 24, leaving her with an infant and debts. She died from a brain tumor on February 1, 1851 at the age of 54. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

Spanish Language Review

Grandes cl√°sicos de la literatura universal.

Horn Book Review

Copious notes about Shelley and about people, places, and things mentioned in the story fill the margins of this edition of the classic tale. Some of the information may help readers better understand the novel, but most of the annotations are superfluous and distracting. The volume is heavily illustrated with reproductions and original watercolors. From HORN BOOK Fall 1999, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Graphic adaptations of classic literature are a mainstay for reluctant readers, and this installment in the Graphic Revolve series aims to introduce Shelley's Frankenstein. The story follows the basic structure of the original, beginning in the Arctic wastes where Robert Walton discovers Dr. Frankenstein in pursuit of the monster. From there the story moves at a fast clip, zipping through major plot points and introducing as many characters as possible. The comic book-style artwork is grim and shadowy, with figures peering out from expanses of black, befitting the gothic atmosphere. At times the pace is a bit too speedy, sacrificing the suspense and tension that make Shelley's story so spooky. While, at fewer than 100 pages, there's plenty left out, youngsters eager to learn about the green-skinned, bolt-necked monster (a misconception clarified in the opening pages) without picking up the novel will find enough of the bare bones of the story to get a tantalizing taste, which may lead them to more comprehensive versions. Common Core-related back matter provides some curriculum help, as well.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2015 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

FOR ROUGHLY THE first quarter of Nora Roberts's post-apocalyptic saga year one (St. Martin's, $27.99), all the formulas for a good thriller are deployed to magnificent effect. Readers follow the MacLeod family as they enjoy a pleasant holiday in Scotland - in the process somehow awakening a mystical ancient doom. The epidemic that follows, eventually wiping out billions, is described with relentless brutality as governments collapse and things fall apart. In power and poignancy, this segment of "Year One" is a match for end-of-the-world classics like Stephen King's "The Stand," Nevil Shute's "On the Beach" and the better zombie apocalypses. And then the tension just... stops. Once the bulk of the human race is dead, the pace of events slows drastically. The novel's main characters shift their focus from survival to building a pastoral community away from the city. Many have manifested "magickal" abilities; elves and faeries suddenly appear, spouting cryptic warnings. Matters of magic begin to supplant the usual divisions of humankind, though this might be because there's little mention of survivors who aren't white, cishet or practitioners of Celtic belief systems. Eventually it turns out that one of the novel's two pregnant characters bears the One, a savior destined to save humanity. Other than vague prophecies about the Ttiatha de Danaan, however, not much happens. This is the first book of a planned trilogy, and it shows in the latter half's sluggish pace. As a venerated romance writer with hundreds of books under her belt, Roberts could have brought an exciting perspective to the postapocalyptic subgenre. Romance novels tend to center character and emotion in a way most science fiction and fantasy novels can't or won't - but for some reason Roberts chooses not to do so in "Year One." This results in a story of shallow people, striving for not all that much, in an implausible world. A frustrating disappointment. Gods spring forth from the human heart in Rachel Neumeier's winter of ice and iron (Saga, $29.99), a sprawling epic fantasy of political intrigue and cold, bitter magics. Every polity in the Four Kingdoms generates magic, which wells up from the intentions and labors of its people and invests local rulers with hereditary, semi-sentient spirits called fmmanents. When the ruler of Emmer decides to feed the fmmanents of every other nation to his own, conquest isn't the greatest danger. The real problem is that any one of the Immanent Powers in play might achieve apotheosis, transforming into a god - and in the process destroying the land that created it. This is a solidly traditional epic fantasy on its face, taking place in a vaguely European land of dukedoms and mad kings, featuring names full of umlauts and acute and grave accents. The plot is a familiar one, too, wherein the princess of a threatened nation must agree to a political marriage, and a young duke plots to overthrow his king. Eventually, they team up. ft's all so very traditional that the narrative lingers overlong on explanations of the politics and world-building, which aren't necessary past the first chapter or so. There's nothing here that the average Dungeons & Dragons player would find challenging. But Neumeier's writing has a spare, haunting quality that makes up for the repetition and predictability. Best of all are her characters - particularly fnnisth, the conscientious duke burdened with a sadistic Immanent. This is fnnisth's story by virtue of the fact that he's got more agency and layers than the princess Kehera, but they work together beautifully, and their romance has a number of interesting and unconventional complications. The characters hook; the writing holds, ft's comfort food, but more satisfying than most. A speculative fiction reader can be forgiven for mistaking Ana Simo's madcap melange of a novel, heartland (Restless, paper, $17.99), for genre, ft sits somewhere at the intersection of "Naked Lunch," absurdist experimental theater, telenovelas and magical realism. The publisher bills it as dystopian satire and lesbian pulp noir - all of which is to say that this story is unclassifiable. That isn't a problem; the fact that it's a chaotic mess is. The setting is dystopian, and irrelevant, ft's an alternative modern-day America in which millions have starved in the "Great Hunger," which hit the heartland harder than the cities. The novel's nameless Latina protagonist is a refugee from this crisis, having migrated on foot and survived the resettlement camps, eventually remaking herself as a writer in New York City. Despite the partial economic collapse of the country, there are still arts grants, and the protagonist has survived off one for 10 years while writing little - indeed, while progressively losing the ability to write, in increasingly ridiculous ways. One day while wearing a "whiteface" disguise to avoid the arts grant administrator, she learns that the love of her life, Bebe, has broken up with her longtime partner, Mercy McCabe. The protagonist decides that McCabe is to blame for all her troubles - her struggles as a writer, her own loneliness and unfulfillment - and therefore begins an obsessive campaign of violent surrealist erotic revenge fantasy. There's really no better way to describe this. The protagonist is hilariously absurd and profane, but after the fifth racial slur or transphobic remark or fat joke, it all starts to feel like performative edginess meant to shock the novel's presumed white Middle American audience. (If this book had been published before 2016, the character's bigotry might have been funnier.) Her disjointed thought processes make it difficult to tell what's actually happening versus what is absurdism - a difficulty sometimes muddled further by Simo's stream-of-consciousness style, ft's a quick read, but not an easy or pleasant one. Considered by most to be the first work of science fiction, "Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus" was published in 1818. Its author, Mary Shelley, significantly revised and republished a more popular edition in 1831. In a powerful introduction to a new bicentennial edition, FRANKENSTEIN: THE 1818 TEXT (Penguin Classics, paper, $10), the literary scholar Charlotte Gordon makes a case for the 1818 text being a purer distillation of the complexities of Shelley's life. She does this by contextualizing Shelley as a "monstrous" female artist, according to the standards of Shelley's time and station. Shelley was born to the radical philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, who died within days of her birth, and she was later rejected by her father, the novelist William Godwin, after she eloped with the poet Percy Shelley. Both events, according to Gordon (the author of "Romantic Outlaws," a joint biography of Shelley and Wollstonecraft), heavily influenced Shelley's tale of a rejected symbolic child demanding the human rights and redress it is due. Also true to her mother's legacy, young Mary Shelley refused to obey the upper-class English insistence that women should make babies but never art - though she did not do so without consequence. Gordon argues that these consequences effectively tainted the 1831 text. Shelley was by this point a struggling single mother who had lost a husband and three children to tragedy. She needed to sell books, and therefore prefaced that later, darker, text with a bit of extra fiction about the idea coming to her in a dream. If Shelley was at the mercy of her own subconscious, Gordon suggests, perhaps potential readers would be more willing to overlook the fact that this scandalous book had been written by a woman. Yet Gordon also notes: "But buried within Mary's apparent self-deprecation is another, prouder claim. Like the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge ... Mary was asserting her qualifications as a true poet. A dream vision was the marker of a true Romantic artist. Extraordinary dreams were not democratic; only great artists received visions." Gordon's framing is the real standout of the anniversary edition, but other appendixes include a chronology of events in Shelley's life, an excerpt from her diary, the 1831 text's introduction, and excerpts from Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman." Highly recommended. N. K. JEMISIN won the Hugo Award for best novel in 2016, and again in 2017, for the first two parts of the Broken Earth trilogy, which concluded this year. Her column on Sciencefiction and fantasy appears six times ayear.

School Library Journal Review

Starred Review. Gr 7 Up-While remaining true to the spirit of Shelley's famous work, this adaptation allows readers to have it their way, savoring this horror classic with either the "Original Text," or the "Quick Text," a simplified abridgement. More than a straightforward retelling, this edition invites readers to explore important social issues such as alienation, the consequences and ethics of scientific studies, as well as the nature of creation and destruction. Rich and lustrous artwork remains the same in both versions. Bucolic mountainsides and charming villages are rendered in a classical European painting style. In stark contrast, horrific elements are depicted with grotesque angular figures in monochromatic tones. Excellent lettering enhances the narrative without distracting from the images. An especially nice feature is the use of boldface to highlight key words and phrases. A table of contents, based on the original three-volume edition, helps readers follow the story's progression. Back matter includes a biography of Shelley, a description of the novel's origin and history, and a clear description of comic-page creation for this remarkable edition. Reluctant readers who start with the "Quick Text" will probably be enticed to try the "Original Text" and continue to explore this exquisite rendition of a gothic classic.-Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One I am by birth a Genevese; and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic. My ancestors had been for many years counsellors and syndics; and my father had filled several public situations with honour and reputation. He was respected by all who knew him for his integrity and indefatigable attention to public business. He passed his younger days perpetually occupied by the affairs of his country; a variety of circumstances had prevented his marrying early, nor was it until the decline of life that he became a husband and the father of a family. As the circumstances of his marriage illustrate his character, I cannot refrain from relating them. One of his most intimate friends was a merchant, who, from a flourishing state, fell, through numerous mischances, into poverty. This man, whose name was Beaufort, was of a proud and unbending disposition, and could not bear to live in poverty and oblivion in the same country where he had formerly been distinguished for his rank and magnificence. Having paid his debts, therefore, in the most honourable manner, he retreated with his daughter to the town of Lucerne, where he lived unknown and in wretchedness. My father loved Beaufort with the truest friendship, and was deeply grieved by his retreat in these unfortunate circumstances. He bitterly deplored the false pride which led his friend to a conduct so little worthy of the affection that united them. He lost no time in endeavouring to seek him out, with the hope of persuading him to begin the world again through his credit and assistance. Beaufort had taken effectual measures to conceal himself; and it was ten months before my father discovered his abode. Overjoyed at this discovery, he hastened to the house, which was situated in a mean street, near the Reuss. But when he entered, misery and despair alone welcomed him. Beaufort had saved but a very small sum of money from the wreck of his fortunes; but it was sufficient to provide him with sustenance for some months, and in the meantime he hoped to procure some respectable employment in a merchant's house. The interval was, consequently, spent in inaction; his grief only became more deep and rankling when he had leisure for reflection; and at length it took so fast hold of his mind that at the end of three months he lay on a bed of sickness, incapable of any exertion. His daughter attended him with the greatest tenderness; but she saw with despair that their little fund was rapidly decreasing, and that there was no other prospect of support. But Caroline Beaufort possessed a mind of an uncommon mould; and her courage rose to support her in her adversity. She procured plain work; she plaited straw; and by various means contrived to earn a pittance scarcely sufficient to support life. Several months passed in this manner. Her father grew worse; her time was more entirely occupied in attending him; her means of subsistence decreased; and in the tenth month her father died in her arms, leaving her an orphan and a beggar. This last blow overcame her; and she knelt by Beaufort's coffin, weeping bitterly, when my father entered the chamber. He came like a protecting spirit to the poor girl, who committed herself to his care; and after the interment of his friend, he conducted her to Geneva, and placed her under the protection of a relation. Two years after this event Caroline became his wife. There was a considerable difference between the ages of my parents, but this circumstance seemed to unite them only closer in bonds of devoted affection. There was a sense of justice in my father's upright mind, which rendered it necessary that he should approve highly to love strongly. Perhaps during former years he had suffered from the late discovered unworthiness of one beloved, and so was disposed to set a greater value on tried worth. There was a show of gratitude and worship in his attachment to my mother, differing wholly from the doating fondness of age, for it was inspired by reverence for her virtues, and a desire to be the means of, in some degree, recompensing her for the sorrows she had endured, but which gave inexpressible grace to his behaviour to her. Everything was made to yield to her wishes and her convenience. He strove to shelter her, as a fair exotic is sheltered by the gardener, from every rougher wind, and to surround her with all that could tend to excite pleasurable emotion in her soft and benevolent mind. Her health, and even the tranquillity of her hitherto constant spirit, had been shaken by what she had gone through. During the two years that had elapsed previous to their marriage my father had gradually relinquished all his public functions; and immediately after their union they sought the pleasant climate of italy, and the change of scene and interest attendant on a tour through that land of wonders, as a restorative for her weakened frame. From Italy they visted Germany and France. I, their eldest child, was born in Naples, and as an infant accompanied them in their rambles. I remained for several years their only child. Much as they were attached to each other, they seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from a very mine of love to bestow them upon me. My mother's tender caresses, and my father's smile of benevolent pleasure while regarding me, are my first recollections. I was their plaything and their idol, and something better--their child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them by Heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery, according as they fulfilled their duties towards me. With this deep consciousness of what they owed towards the being to which they had given life, added to the active spirit of tenderness that animated both, it may be imagined that while during every hour of my infant life I received a lesson of patience, of charity, and of self control, I was so guided by a silken cord that all seemed but one train of enjoyment to me. For a long time I was their only care. My mother had much desired to have a daughter, but I continued their single offspring. When I was about five years old, while making an excursion beyond the frontiers of Italy, they passed a week on the shores of the Lake of Como. Their benevolent disposition often made them enter the cottages of the poor. This, to my mother, was more than a duty; it was a necessity, a passion--remembering what she had suffered, and how she had been relieved--for her to act in her turn the guardian angel to the afflicted. During one of their walks a poor cot in the foldings of a vale attracted their notice as being singularly disconsolate, while the number of half-clothed children gathered about it spoke of penury in its worst shape. One day, when my father had gone by himself to Milan, my mother, accompanied by me, visited this abode. She found a peasant and his wife, hard working, bent down by care and labour, distributing a scanty meal to five hungry babes. Among these there was one which attracted my mother far above all the rest. She appeared of a different stock. The four others were dark eyed, hardy little vagrants; this child was thin, and very fair. Her hair was the brightest living gold, and, despite the poverty of her clothing, seemed to set a crown of distinction on her head. Her brow was clear and ample, her blue eyes cloudless, and her lips and the moulding of her face so expressive of sensibility and sweetness, that none could behold her without looking on her as of a distinct species, a being heaven-sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all her features. The peasant woman, perceiving that my mother fixed eyes of wonder and admiration on this lovely girl, eagerly communicated her history. She was not her child, but the daughter of a Milanese nobleman. Her mother was a German, and had died on giving her birth. The infant had been placed with these good people to nurse: they were better off then. They had not been long married, and their eldest child was but just born. The father of their charge was one of those Italians nursed in the memory of the antique glory of Italy--one among the schiavi ognor frementi, who exerted himself to obtain the liberty of his country. He became the victim of its weakness. Whether he had died, or still lingered in the dungeons of Austria, was not known. His property was confiscated, his child became an orphan and a beggar. She continued with her foster parents, and bloomed in their rude abode, fairer than a garden rose among dark-leaved brambles. When my father returned from Milan, he found playing with me in the hall of our villa a child fairer than pictured cherub--a creature who seemed to shed radiance from her looks, and whose form and motions were lighter than the chamois of the hills. The apparition was soon explained. With his permission my mother prevailed on her rustic guardians to yield their charge to her. They were fond of the sweet orphan. Her presence had seemed a blessing to them; but it would be unfair to her to keep her in poverty and want, when Providence afforded her such powerful protection. They consulted their village priest, and the result was that Elizabeth Lavenza became the inmate of my parents' house--my more than sister the beautiful and adored companion of all my occupations and my pleasures. Every one loved Elizabeth. The passionate and almost reverential attachment with which all regarded her became, while I shared it, my pride and my delight. On the evening previous to her being brought to my home, my mother had said playfully--"I have a pretty present for my Victor--to-morrow he shall have it." And when, on the morrow, she presented Elizabeth to me as her promised gift, I, with childish seriousness, interpreted her words literally, and looked upon Elizabeth as mine--mine to protect, love, and cherish. All praises bestowed on her, I received as made to a possession of my own. We called each other familiarly by the name of cousin. No word, no expression could body forth the kind of relation in which she stood to me--my more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only. Excerpted from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Mary Shelley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.