Gigantic in stature, yet uncouth and distorted in its proportions; his face was concealed by long locks of hair, but one cast hand was extended, in colour and apparent texture like that of a mummy. There was never a vision so horrible in his face, of such loathsome yet appalling hideousness.
~ Frankenstein, 1818
I have a confession to make.
In high school, I read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. But until recently, I had never read “Frankenstein”.
I know. How is it possible that the girl who loves all things horror and devotes the entire month of October to writing blog posts about her favourite movie monsters — Frankenstein included — has never read what must be considered the literal mother of the horror genre?
In 2018, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s classic horror novel “Frankenstein”, or “The Modern Prometheus”, celebrates its 200th anniversary. And last fall, I decided it was time that I finally read the novel which is credited with legitimizing horror in literature.
Published in January 1818, “Frankenstein” was, if you’ll pardon the pun, an entirely different breed of monster. Not only was this the kind of tale that had never been mainstream before, it was also written by a woman.
At age 19 in 1816, Mary legally wed famous poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and after his death in 1822, she devoted herself to publishing and sharing her husband’s works. But it was Mary herself and her dark, Gothic tale of science fiction horror which would be immortalized in history forever.
Mary published Frankenstein anonymously, and many believed her husband to be the author. She penned a number of novels in her relatively short and tragic 53 years, but it was her definitive man-playing-God tale — the result of a rainy afternoon ghost story session with friends (1816) during which it was suggested that all try their hand at writing a horror narrative of their own — that she is remembered for.
Now, there are a lot of friendly preferential debates out there, including some which will be familiar to my regular readers: Pepsi or Coke? Addams Family or Munsters? Sam or Dean? But even more common is the age-old question — book or movie? Continue reading