Monday, 8 July 2013

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

1 star

First off, let's just say how surprised I was at how many of the 'classic' things I know about this story of the dangers of man playing God (mostly from the many movies I've seen) weren't actually in this! And now to my review...

It feels almost perverse saying this considering how it is thought to be a literary great but, apart from an all too brief interlude during the relating of the monster's tale in Volume II (where the monster is truly created, not by Frankenstein, but by the treatment he receives at the hands of humans) I loathed nearly every second of this book.

The main problem for me was the overwrought written style and characterisation, along with the endless pages of description of the landscapes encountered. I particularly hated the character of Frankenstein and felt that, although we were constantly being told that he is "all that is worthy of love and admiration among men", he was nothing but a cowardly, melodramatic, self-serving arse who seemed to be constantly either pitching a fit of delirium or swooning senselessly to the floor and spending months of recovery in bed like the heroine of some bad romance novel. If he'd worn pearls, he surely would have clutched them. 

Whether this was the fault of the character or the author trying to paint him as a good and sensitive man I'm not entirely clear but one particular section that got my goat came near the end where, after spending most of the book wailing about his creation and how, through it, he'd engineered the deaths of all those he loved, on his deathbed he pretty much goes on to say that all he was guilty of was excessive enthusiasm in the act of creating and had discharged his duty and responsibility to the monster....
Er, no you didn't. You fled in disgust, took to your bed and engineered your own downfall through spending the rest of the book in 'let's ignore it and hope it goes away whilst I pootle about the countryside gnashing my teeth at the stars' mode.

Supposedly a sad and tragic story, I was only sad that the monster didn't kill everyone sooner.

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