Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Frankenstein's incarnations

As a bookend to our overview of Dracula portrayals, we'll delve today into depictions of Mary's Shelley's monster, often erroneously dubbed Frankenstein. At left is how he was shown in the original novel, and below is a copy of the first edition of Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus, dedicated to Lord Byron by the author (recently discovered and put up for auction). Shelley was only 19 when she wrote this enduring and influential work of fiction, aspects of which came to her in a dream.
The sellers are "inviting" offers starting at $350,000.
Page from Mary Shelly's original draft,1816–17; the opening of Chapter V. Oxford, Bodleian Libraries
All hell broke loose when pop culture got a hold of her creation. Below, original poster of the film starring Boris Karloff, a French poster of the famous James Whale sequel, the cover of a vintage children's book depicting the "monster," and a Classics Comics cover.

Her hairdo makes me swoon!


  1. I can't believe Mary Shelley was only 19 when she wrote Frankenstein!!! WOW!!!

  2. Mary Shelley's monster was not the growling beast of the Karloff film, but an articulate, well-read creature who could reproach his creator for his abandonment of him. There was a TV version, with Michael Sarrazin and Jane Seymour, that aspired to portray the novel with greater accuracy.
    But it is Frankenstein synonymous with monster that has entered the language. The term "Frankenstorm" applied to thhe recent hurricane is another twist in a convoluted evolution.

    1. Oh, a click on your link tells me Daedalus has that version on DVD, called Frankenstein: the True Story.
      Mary Shelley may be one of the most misunderstood of writers. (Walter Pater also, for "art for art's sake")
      The name Frankenstein seems to have gotten away from its creator, in life as in the book.

    2. What an apt comparison. I was certainly surprised when I read the book, but my pre-conceived notions were quickly torn to pieces. In my opinion, the "monster" is the most sympathetic character in the whole thing.