Sunday, March 6, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 10: Frankenstein


This book has been on virtual shelf since about the time I purchased my first Kindle. It was one of the first books I decided that I would have to read this year, and shortly after embarking on my quest to read all of Harry Potter I selected Frankenstein as the next book.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

It is strange that I am so disappointed in a book that I so much enjoyed reading, but it is this dichotomy that will be my memory of Frankenstein. It is something I would have been prepared for if I had just scrolled down on and read a handful of the reader reviews! I was blissful in my ignorance, though.

Reading the book, then, led me down a path of confusion as I watched my expectations crumble to dust along the way. The story laid down by Shelley is so very different than the tales that dominate popular culture, the silver screen, and even the derivative works that I have read (I enjoyed Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series when I read it last year). How did this change happen?

Shelley's writing is wonderful, and I found myself highlighting several lines of text as I read. I came to understand that, while this tale was not what I thought I was going to read, it was nonetheless a tale worth the reading. It did leave me with one nagging question, though. 

After days and nights of incredible labor and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the very cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter...But this discovery was so great and overwhelming that all the steps by which I had been progressively led to it were obliterated, and I beheld only the result. 
I read this part to mean that Victor succeeded before he created his famous monster. He beheld the result! It also stands to follow that he had only succeeded in his labor by actually bestowing animation upon lifeless matter. So, with my understanding of this early part of the book (I'm somewhere around page 22-24 in my Kindle app), I wonder what happened to this first creation? Victor does go on to wrestle with the decision to create something less complex than a man or something man-like, but his "imagination was too much exalted by [his] first success to permit [him] to doubt of [his] ability to give life to an animal as complex and wonderful as man." It is that first success that I am curious about.

Victor Frankenstein researched a way to bestow life, but I feel that he must have actually done so as a proof of theory before moving on to create his monster. The excerpts I have referenced above lead me to believe it was something quite simple, perhaps simply an animated object, and not yet an animal or a man. I am left to wonder what, if anything, that first success might have been.

I am also left to wonder what my next book will be! I hadn't thought of what I would read beyond Frankenstein, and though I have marked several books as must-reads for the year, I hadn't made any attempt to schedule my readings. I shall deliberate on this self-inflicted conundrum this evening.

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