The Celebration of a Legend

January 14, 2018

 

“FRANKENSTEIN THE FIRST TWO HUNDRED YEARS”

by Christopher Frayling

 

At first, upon receiving this book as a Christmas gift from my good friend Brent Richardson, I thought this would be a pretty coffee table book, but without much depth.  Oh, was I wrong.

 

True, this is a lavishly illustrated book; in fact, the last half is all pictures and captions, showing the various adaptations and derivations of “Frankenstein”.  I, who have spent a lifetime in the study of horror, still found quite a number of pictures I had not seen before.

 

Much of the early part of the book goes into the origin of the novel.  Naturally, I had read a great deal about the events of June 17th at Villa Diodati and its famous cast of characters: Mary Godwin, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Claire Clairmont, Lord Byron, and Dr. Polidori.  But never have I seen the events so carefully described.  Numerous quotes are given from the journals and letters of the participants, in chronological order, and with Frayling’s enlightening analysis.  Reading it, one can find themselves alongside Mary Godwin (later, Mary Shelley) as that spark of life creates a vignette in her mind and how it went forth to become the most famous monster novel the world has ever known.

 

And this book doesn’t stop there.  Frayling goes on to tell of the aftermath of “Frankenstein”, including Mary’s publishing woes, the public’s response, and an excellent account of the earliest plays to carry on the tale.  This book is highly recommended.

 

Let the third century of “Frankenstein” begin.

 

5 stars.

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