I have now read Frankenstein. I’ve never had the impetus to read it before; I never studied Gothic literature, and it’s just never been bumped up the to-be-read list. But a few weeks ago someone at church read it, and waxed so lyrical in wanting to have a pop-up book club to discuss it (as a sequel to one last year on The Book of Strange New Things) that I agreed… and here we are.
I do not like Victor Frankenstein.
I had a general knowledge of the story – that Victor created the monster, who then implored his creator to create a mate for him, and then the monster killed Victor’s bride. I knew there was something to do with the Arctic but I didn’t know why. So to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting to be particularly surprised by the novel. And in the broad outlines, I wasn’t, but in some of the details I certainly wasn’t.
I had no idea that the story was structured as a story within a story, with Victor relating his tale of woe to Robert as they sat stuck in the ice in the far reaches of the Arctic, who is then relating it by letter back to his own sister. I don’t think that particularly changes the story itself but it’s intriguing to see Shelley using this conceit as the excuse for why, and how, the story is being told – that she wasn’t just writing a third-person omnipotent narrator watching and relating all the events. Instead, this allows Victor to include his passionate remonstrances and remembrances, and for Robert to include his own reflections at beginning and end.
Side note: I would have liked more about Robert. Did he get home? Why was he so passionate about finding what was in the extreme north? I wanted more than just what he told his sister!
And so Victor. Continue reading →