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Mary Shelley originally intended to publish Frankenstein as a short story. It was at the suggestion of her husband that she expanded the tale into a novel. I'm of the opinion that he should have kept his mouth shut. While the premise is solid, interesting, and original, there simply isn't enough story here to fill a whole novel.
I can forgive the looong Character Filibusters that stretch my Willing Suspension Of Disbelief—It Just Bugs Me, but I know that was the style at the time. But there's so much Padding! Victor goes to Europe, whee, let's look at all the pretty mountains in Switzerland for ten pages! Yay! And what's worse is that when the actual story comes along, she skips right past it. The pivotal scene where Victor destroys the second creature takes place in the span of less than a paragraph; blink and you'll miss it. It doesn't help that I disliked the protagonist as much as I did. This guy has all the cowardice of Rincewind with none of the charming Genre Savvy.
Knowing that most of this is probably done on purpose is little comfort. I still found it insufferably dull. As a stylistic and thematic microcosm of the Romantic Era, yes, it's an excellent piece of literature, and in that context, sure, I could recommend it quite highly. But as a story, meant to frighten and entertain? I have difficulty seeing the appeal. Shelley originally intended to write a ghost story. I think I could find more Nightmare Fuel in Teletubbies.
Okay, I can give it some credit for a great premise. Crazy scientist brings a corpse to life? Yeah, that's pretty damn cool, and it deserves its place in pop culture, although I think its various adaptations did a much better job with it. And the book has its moments. I kind of liked the bits where Frankenstein is interacting with the sailor guy. And there's that whole microcosm thing I already mentioned.
But on the whole, there are lots of classics that I'd gladly recommend reading for pleasure, and this is not one of them.
Ok, so don't read this book if you have ADHD. Gotcha.
ADHD shouldn't be a problem, but I would say you shouldn't read this book if you like your novels to be well-paced with likable characters.
I actually agree with you on the destruction of the second creature, since it really is one of the most important moments. The first was very well-described and built-up to, which made the second's fate very much a disappointment.
However, I actually enjoyed the book and never had a problem with it being too slow. A lot of it is Seinfeld Is Unfunny (Seriously, how many stories are there about creations taking revenge upon their creator?), but it's interesting and well-written Seinfeld is unfunny.
I've never understood the obsession with likeable characters. I was just thinking today that this needs some studying. Surely it's just limiting stories needlessly? Hitler by all accounts, was not the most congenial fellow but I dare suggest you could maybe make one or two interesting pieces of media about him. Born and raised in Wales, I have the natural loathing of Margaret Thatcher, but I was looking forward to her film. It was only when they made the character likable that the film became boring.
Are you meant to like the Captain or the Whale in Moby Dick? Isn't the most liked Jane Austen book Emma where she set out to create a character that all readers would absolutely hate (although, in fairness, she failed). House is interesting because Dr House isn't likeable etc
I tirade, because it's relevant. Frankenstein without a doubt is designed to be the type of story where the characters aren;t likeable. Likeable is missing the point. We have a monster and the monster he created, two people driving each other into a descent of madness as they meddle with the very core of nature and refuse each other all compassion. If you ended the book thinking 'Gee whizz, that Frankenstein was a likeable chap' then you'd a)be thinking very strangely and 2)been completely let down by the author.
For this reason I feel it would not have worked as a short story. Perhaps you're impression was poisoned by the cultural expectation, because I have to say I feel nightmare fuel was only secondary in purpose. This was meant to be a Moby Dick story with some exploration on the affects of love, creation and madness. You can't have a descent into madness over the course of a few pages without it seeming completely trivial. I agree the book is perhaps not for the most but not being frightening and not have likeable characters wouldn't be those reasons (although I guess if you were looking for them, then they would be good reasons, but it's also not a good book to read if you want a light-hearted romcom, or a detective novel, or a quiet but deep slice-of-life, or the epic detailing the efforts of a desperate mother trying to unite her family against the background of a World Gone Mad in the Great War of 1914, or a biopic of famous cats, or a focus on the colour blue)
I only have a problem with unlikeable characters when the work portrays them as likeable. Since Frankenstein is portrayed as obsessed to the point of stupidity and suicide and his monster is the antagonist, neither is really portrayed as likeable by the work.
For an example of a work that presents a fundamentally unlikeable character as likeable, I'd mention the obvious Twilight and Inheritance books.
See, I don't mind a slow story if it's well-paced. The problem isn't that it's slow—it's that it's so blatantly padded. Look at the whole of Chapters 6 and 14, for example. Or that big long tangent in the first chapter about how Frankenstein's mother adopted Elizabeth. This isn't stuff that's developing Frankenstein's character. It's just Info Dumping. If you can't have a descent into madness over the course of a few pages, the solution is not to stuff in extra chapters of tangentially-related filler fluff to pad it out until it's novel-length.
Okay, yep I think that's a perfectly valid criticism. Just not the other stuff :D
But it's definitely a criticism which by itself is worth warning people about before they want to read it. You seem to have a much deeper understanding of literature than I do, so I want to ask you, is this padding a feature of the period? Because 20 000 Leagues had padding beyond belief and the same with Moby Dick, and yet they're all books with similar reputations written around similar times?
I wonder too if Beige Prose really is an advancement or whether we're just in some cycle and at some point in the future people will talk about how boringly unsubtly and straightforward the books of this time are and some 24th century kid will say 'Look how stupid this is to read there wasn't one tangental diatribe on fish! How can you expect me to read this?'
Every story can be condensed into about 2 pages if you take out the padding. Why don't you actually tell us why you hate the book rather than resorting to referencing tropes as if they were somehow inherently bad?
It all boils down to Pacing Problems and the Eight Deadly Words. Long stories aren't inherently bad...but poorly-paced stories are pretty bad. Characters you dislike aren't inherently bad...but characters you don't care about at all are pretty bad.
These are flaws that could maybe be overlooked if the prose were well-written or the narrative were particularly compelling, but they aren't; they're just, y'know, so-so. Like I said, it can still stand as a representative of popular literary trends of its time—like, a period piece, or whatever—but as a work of fiction, it doesn't hold up well.
I feel characters you don't care about = bad is slipping into likeable territory again. It just feels to me like when people hate Pixar movies because they can't get their minds to empathise with emotion. I don't think it should have to be easy
Frost/Nixon was a great character focussed film, but you didn't want Frost or Nixon to win so in a way you didn't care about the result or what the characters were aiming for. At most you cared about seeing them fail, but it didn't stop it from being an absolutely awesome film
But anyway I've said all this, and you've given us an honest opinion, we can take away from this that you think the book is too long and too boring and it's not my place to challenge your mind. I'm sorry you happened to come across one of my peeves and thank you for taking the time to write a review and to even back up you opinions when we asked it of you :D
I agree like 100%, though Death of the Author at least allows me to read the book as criticizing Frankenstein for his hyper-romantic excesses in a way the author probably wouldn't like.
Starting as a ghost story doesn\'t mean it has to stay that way. I think you\'re missing the point of those scenes entirely. Victor is NOT a good person. He refuses to admit that his actions are bad and feels entirely justified in his hatred of the monster, and those times he goes on \"vacation\" are actually him abandoning his duties entirely and attempting to live a happy life which he deliberately denied his creation. And while the moral Shelley may have said it had was \"don\'t go too far with science\", it\'s clear she intended the Monster to be more sympathetic than his creator.
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