Literature Meme- 6/10 Prose
Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley
Prepare to hear of occurrences which are usually deemed marvellous. Were we among the tamer scenes of nature I might fear to encounter your unbelief, perhaps your ridicule; but many things will appear possible in these wild and mysterious regions which would provoke the laughter of those unacquainted with the ever-varied powers of nature
It encapsulated one genre and created another. It made a writer more famous than her celebrated husband, but did nothing for the rest of her career. It has been adapted, deconstructed, parodied and misremembered, and it is an important part of my personal mythology; my parents read it aloud to me in the womb, to keep me from kicking. It explains a lot about her, people used to say.
What kind of world would we have without Frankenstein? It’s impossible for me to imagine it. Certainly, it may not be the best science fiction or horror book ever written- the dialogue is clunky and, for such a short book, the pace is rather slow. But in the face of such profound philosophical depth and haunting situations, such shortcomings are easily forgotten. All that matters is the tale of two anti-heroes (or possibly two villains), both of whom blame their sorry lot in life on the other, and both of whom are right.
A father runs from his cadaverous child. The child wrecks vengeance on the innocent, for it is the only way to reach his creator at all. Science is used and misused, and we question what Frankenstein’s original sin is (dabbling in the forbidden or parental abandonment?) Like the modern Prometheus in the title, he brings the power of god to humanity. Like a modern Adam, his creature wanders alone and lost as punishment for sins he cannot comprehend. And in the process, Frankenstein became a myth in and of itself.