Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Classics Corner: Frankenstein

Classics Corner is an ongoing series highlighting classic literature that I was not assigned in school. This time I read through Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

I don't know much about the Frankenstein monster. At this point in time, my only exposure to this cultural icon has been through Mel Brooks' highly entertaining Young Frankenstein ("Franken-STEEN!"). I was fairly confident that Mary Shelley's monster never danced a choreographed routine to the song Puttin' on the Ritz. I thought him to be a big, lumbering beast that grunted a lot.

Nope.

Frankenstein is a moody, atmospheric novel that slowly gets to the "good stuff", the creation of a life most foul, and then promptly dashes off to mope. I was surprised that the monster played a very minimal role until much later in the book. By the time Frankenstein and monster meet again, he is limber and silver-tongued...a far cry from his depiction in the media I have seen to date. His is a pitiful tale, and it's almost hard to sympathize with Frankenstein after he spurns the creature he made and then abandoned. Many tragedies befall Frankenstein at the hands of his creation, and in the end he races to the frozen north to enact his revenge.

It may appear that I wasn't too fond of the book, but this is not the case. I really did enjoy it, even though it was not what I was expecting. If you like a book that focuses on character and setting versus plot (a story that is somewhat leisurely even in action), this is definitely a novel worth reading.

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