Frankenstein: Or, 12/14/17

 

At this point it has become a cliche that whenever anyone mentions “a Frankenstein” the most pedantic person in the room will correct them, saying, ‘You mean Frankenstein’s monster.’ Well, I’m more pedantic still, because I’m the one who will correct the corrector, letting them know it’s not a monster and isn’t called a monster in the text: it’s Frankenstein’s creature.

I think that using Frankenstein’s name as a metonymy for Frankenstein’s creature is remarkably appropriate. The novel is about the relationship between creature and creator—the creature is essentially an extension of Victor Frankenstein.

The title ‘Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus’ sort of indicates Mary Shelley is most interested in Victor’s plight—the plight of the creator. He believes he has brought something into the world that doesn’t belong and he’s tortured by the creature both literally and figuratively, as it chases him across Europe trying to exact revenge for making him so grotesque.

But I think the plight of the creature is more interesting and relatable. The creature did not ask to be made. He was created, but his creator neglected the responsibility of making sure his creation was brought gently into the world. From the very start, Victor makes clear to his creation that it is wretched and an abomination, and the creature internalizes this. And even despite this lesson, the creature shows potential for great intelligence and great compassion, only to be rejected by the world and eventually descend into anguish and rage.

The alternate title, ‘The Modern Prometheus,’ refers, of course, to the myth of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and brought it back to earth. Fire is, in this case, an analogy for life, so for this cover I loved the symbolism of the creature being this anguished silhouette backlight by the flame. Note the notes of blue and white in the flame…the opening and closing scene of the book take place in the arctic. Just a little touch.

 

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