2016 Marks the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Frankenstein’s Monster

While summering in Lake Geneva, Switzerland with a writers' group, Mary Shelley, along with her fellow scribes, was issued a challenge by Lord Byron: Write a ghost story to tell the others for fun. She conceived of the character and the story during a waking dream in the early hours of June 16, 1816.

Although there is only one Frankenstein, Shelley’s classic has spawned several books and movies featuring the infamous monster created by the title’s eponymous character.

Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
A masterpiece of nineteenth-century Gothic horror, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein also has the distinction of being the first science fiction novel. Dr. Victor Frankenstein, an ambitious young scientist, is consumed by a fanatic desire to create a living being. He fashions an eight-foot creature and succeeds in animating him but, horrified by his visage, perceives his creation to be a monster and frightens him away. The monster, wandering in search of human companionship, is spurned and repulsed by all he approaches and learns to hate and to kill. He confronts his maker with a terrible choice: unless Frankenstein creates for him a mate, he will go on a rampage of destruction. A subversive tale about the corrupt tendencies in humanity's most civilized ambitions, this haunting thriller maintains its hold in the collective imagination centuries after its first publication.

The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein: A Novel by Peter Ackroyd
The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein: A Novel by Peter Ackroyd
When two nineteenth-century Oxford students—Victor Frankenstein, a serious researcher, and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley—form an unlikely friendship, the result is a tour de force that could only come from one of the world's most accomplished and prolific authors. This haunting and atmospheric novel opens with a heated discussion, as Shelley challenges the conventionally religious Frankenstein to consider his atheistic notions of creation and life. Afterward, these concepts become an obsession for the young scientist. As Victor begins conducting anatomical experiments to reanimate the dead, he at first uses corpses supplied by the coroner. But these specimens prove imperfect for Victor's purposes. Moving his makeshift laboratory to a deserted pottery factory in Limehouse, he makes contact with the Doomsday men—the resurrectionists—whose grisly methods put Frankenstein in great danger as he works feverishly to bring life to the terrifying creature that will bear his name for eternity. Filled with literary lights of the day such as Bysshe Shelley, Godwin, Lord Byron, and Mary Shelley herself, and penned in period-perfect prose, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein is sure to become a classic of the twenty-first century.

“Nimble and sly Ackroyd relishes the gritty details of nineteenth-century London, from the filthy streets to the grim carnival of a public hanging. As he whips up a stormy narrative punctuated by lightning strikes of precisely aimed social critique, he shrewdly reanimates the timeless cautionary myth of the consequences of humankind's mad, hubristic dream of controlling nature.”—Booklist

“In Ackroyd's new page-turner, readers are taken on a heart-stopping journey through early 19th-century England, where, at Oxford, a young Victor Frankenstein is befriended by budding poet/atheist Shelley. Both men must experiment—Shelley with his revolutionary lyrics and ideas and Frankenstein with theories about the creation of life from electricity. Writing in beautiful prose with a voice appropriate to the era, Ackroyd allows Frankenstein to narrate the tale of his experiment gone horrendously awry. As the body count mounts, Frankenstein tries to undo his work, all the while mingling with the likes of Lord Byron, Shelley's wives, and other notables. And when the reader comes to the end of the novel, the question remains: was there actually a monster, or was it all a function of the creator's dementia? Essential for Ackroyd fans and readers who can't get enough of Frankenstein's monster.”—Library Journal

Monster by Dave Zeltersman
Monster by Dave Zeltersman
“Repudiating the outrageous fabrication of Victor Frankenstein's story as told by Mary Shelley is the aim of this imaginative and grotesque novel from the revisionist perspective of the monster. First off, the monster had a name, Friedrich Hoffmann. Second, he had a true love, Johanna. So that they could become unwilling participants in unholy experiments, the lovers were murdered by Dr. Frankenstein, whom Zeltserman portrays as a perverse maniac in the mold of Lovecraft's Herbert West, working in league with the Marquis de Sade. Awakening to find himself inside a hideous, patchwork body, Hoffmann's first friend is Charlotte, a reanimated severed head in a bowl. Things get worse. Zeltserman's monster is every bit as eloquent as Shelley's, though his rage is more focused. He seeks to avenge Johanna, plain and simple. But the mystical rituals enacted by the doctor make insurrection difficult, and so Hoffmann wanders the countryside encountering changeling vampyrs, kindly monks, groveling Satanists, and, finally, a castle in which 200 girls have been kidnapped to be a part of Frankenstein and the Marquis' unspeakable drama. This is juicy material for Franken-fans, and Zeltserman is just faithful enough to the original (he, too, ends with the fateful wedding night and the icebound ship) that his many fresh contributions feel entirely normal. Well, abnormal, to be accurate, but deliciously so.”—Booklist (Starred Review)

“A rich and fun response to Shelley's classic. “—Publishers Weekly

Frankenstein; The Bride of Frankenstein
Frankenstein (DVD)
Boris Karloff stars as the screen's most memorable monster in what many consider to be the greatest horror film ever made. Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) dares to tamper with life and death by creating a human monster (Boris Karloff) out of lifeless body parts. It is director James Whale's adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel blended with Karloff's compassionate portrayal of a creature groping for identity that makes Frankenstein a masterpiece not only of the genre, but for all time.

The Bride of Frankenstein (DVD)
One of the most popular horror classics of all time and an acclaimed sequel to the original Frankenstein movie. The legendary Boris Karloff reprises his role as the screen's most misunderstood monster who now longs for a mate of his own. Colin Clive is back as the overly ambitious Dr. Frankenstein, who creates the ill-fated bride (Elsa Lanchester). Directed by the original's James Whale (his last horror film) and featuring a haunting musical score, The Bride of Frankenstein ranks as one of the finest films of the genre.

Victor Frankenstein (DVD)
Superstars James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe are electrifying in this action-packed thriller that breathes new life into the most famous horror tale of all time. Radical scientist Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) and his trusted assistant Igor (Radcliffe) share a noble vision of aiding humanity through their groundbreaking research into immortality. But when Victor’s experiments go too far, his obsession has terrifying consequences. Now only Igor can bring his friend back from the brink of madness... and save him from his monstrous creation!
Young Frankenstein; Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Young Frankenstein (DVD)
A finely-tuned parody of the old Frankenstein movies, in which Wilder returns to the old country to clear his family name. He finds his late grandfather's step-by-step manual explaining how to bring a corpse to life. With Igor, his hunchbacked assistant, and the curvaceous Inga, Dr. Frankenstein creates a monster who only wants to be loved.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (DVD)
A comic horror film in which Abbott and Costello encounter Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, and a mad scientist.

-Lisa S.


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