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LitEditor
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A Guide for Our Discussion

As we read this novel together, we will doubtless be moving at varying paces. Some will be rereading -- others encountering the story for the first time.

As you respond to the posted topics, please be mindful of spoilers in the "Early Topics" section. You are also welcome to post your own questions or discussion topics outside of the Early Topics and Later Topics sections, as you see fit.

Most of us will be spending a bit more time in the first week or so tending to the Early Topics section, and then we'll move on to address the discussion in the Later Topics area. But feel free to move as you like between the different areas.

See the latest news about book clubs in the Book Clubs Blog.
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Choisya
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Community Room topic

[ Edited ]
Perhaps our Administrator could set up a Community Room for off-topic discussions? (This has been done for The Thirteenth Tale club.) B&N readers may like to know that BBC Radio 4 have been serialising Clair Tomalin's new biography of Thomas Hardy - A Time-Torn Man - this week. You can 'listen again' from this link:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/book_week.shtml

(For some reason the above link does not work properly on this board so perhaps folks could copy and paste it to their browser.)

I also wonder if Ilana could arrange for some English and/or European Classics to be discussed, in addition to the American Classics. They have always proved very popular with B&N readers. Any suggestions? Perhaps a discussion of Byron or Shelley as we are discussing Mary Shelley's book here? Wilkie Collins' 'Woman in White', Zola's 'Nana' or Therese Raquin and Stendhal's 'Scarlet and Black' also come to mind? Here is a URL on some Womens' books:-

http://locutus.ucr.edu/~cathy/womw.html

Message Edited by Choisya on 10-27-200605:46 AM

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ELee
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Clair Tomalin

I really enjoy her biographies. I have read her work on Katherine Mansfield, and have her books on Jane Austen and Ellen Ternan/Charles Dickens on my TBR shelf. It's exciting that she's also written about Thomas Hardy, especially since we have been reading him in this club over the last year or so...I think it was you, Choisya, (in one of our other groups) that posed the question of whether or not it is beneficial to know something about an author's life in relation to his work, and how that effects our perception and interpretation of his/her writing. Since reading Tomalin, I find myself either following up a (classic) book with a biography of the author, or researching his/her life on the internet. For me, this adds to my scope and appreciation of the work.
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Community Room topic

Hi Choisya,
On your good suggestion, I did just give us a community room. Your European classics idea is also exciting--and we're actually already in the process of setting up a British Classic group, which should come on line in a few weeks.
I'll be interested to see your insights on early chapters in Frankenstein
Ilana



Ilana
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Choisya
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Re: Ilana: New British Classics group

I am so pleased to learn that B&N are also setting up a British Classics group because I know from emails I have recieved from other B&N 'old lags' that they missed these from the current list. Expanding into European literature would also be wonderful, especially as I understand that Americans do not touch much on European classics whilst at school. Anything by Zola would be a good start.



IlanaSimons wrote:
Hi Choisya,
On your good suggestion, I did just give us a community room. Your European classics idea is also exciting--and we're actually already in the process of setting up a British Classic group, which should come on line in a few weeks.
I'll be interested to see your insights on early chapters in Frankenstein
Ilana


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Bibliocrates
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Introductions

Is there a thread for Introductions? BNU had an Introductions thread and I was just wondering if there was one for this group that I missed?
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Introductions

Hi Bibliocrates. Most introductions are happening under the "Message from our Moderator" thread. There's also a Community Room, and not as much has happened there yet. We've just started--so hello. I'm glad you're joining us.



Ilana
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Bibliocrates
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British Classics

[ Edited ]
I am so glad to know that there is a British Classics group in the works.

Thanks for the suggestion Choisya, and hello again from a former BNU regular! I am going to try my best to participate in these Book Clubs, as my schooling schedule will allow.

Thanks also for adding a Community Room for us Ilana, as we do tend to get off topic!

Message Edited by Bibliocrates on 10-28-200601:45 PM

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LizzieAnn
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Re: British Classics

Glad to hear that a discussion on the British Classics is forthcoming. Any idea as to when we can expect it?
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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IlanaSimons
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Re: British Classics

It's under discussion--and if you have suggestions, feel free to send em over to me!



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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chad
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Preface... I like it so far- been looking for work in Florida, I can swim all year round here

[ Edited ]
Hi everyone!

I finally got around to reading the beginning of Frankenstein after a somewhat boring Halloween by myself, hoping that possibly a friend(or fiend?) would come to my home on Halloween night, disguised as Frankenstein. But Halloween hopsitality dictates that I give anything that looks like Frankenstein a treat and not much more- a friendship is out of the question? I might be a loser to make an attempt. In any case, I liked Frankenstein's focus on friendship in 1800's society, when mercantilism dictated human relationships - when a friendship was actually contingent on your own success in business. Hmmmm.....no, modern society could not possibly be like Shelly's society, when the search for a friend drove Robert Walton's enterprise, or when Frankenstein actually lived, at least in the minds of the creators.


Chad

Message Edited by chad on 11-11-200612:13 PM

Message Edited by chad on 11-11-200612:52 PM

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IlanaSimons
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friends vs economic partners

[ Edited ]
Hi Chad. I'm interested in your suggestion that Shelley is comparing "organic" friendship with mercantile ties: or "honest" love with economics and ambition. Neat idea. It's as if on one side, Victor can choose the organic stuff: family love, dad's love, his cousin Elizabeth for marriage (in the 1818 edition, Elizabeth really is his blood cousin. In the later edition, Shelley decided incest was too touchy a subject, so made this a non-blood relative). On the other side, Frankenstein has the less "natural" family that he makes, flooded with his ambition.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-11-200601:11 PM




Ilana
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Choisya
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Re: friends vs economic partners



IlanaSimons wrote:
Hi Chad. I'm interested in your suggestion that Shelley is comparing "organic" friendship with mercantile ties: or "honest" love with economics and ambition. Neat idea. It's as if on one side, Victor can choose the organic stuff: family love, dad's love, his cousin Elizabeth for marriage (in the 1818 edition, Elizabeth really is his blood cousin. In the later edition, Shelley decided incest was too touchy a subject, so made this a non-blood relative). On the other side, Frankenstein has the less "natural" family that he makes, flooded with his ambition.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-11-200601:11 PM







No doubt Shelley thought that an incestuous relationship was a bit 'near the bone' because their friend Lord Byron (who was staying with them when the story was written) had a passionate incestuous relationship with his half sister, Augusta Leigh.
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IlanaSimons
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incest; broken bodies

[ Edited ]
Nice comment.
Byron also fell in love with his cousin, Mary Chaworth.
I'll follow your line and also compare him to the monster: Byron was born with a club-foot, which he was sensitive about. He (maybe) got over the sense of a strange body by becoming an historically grand lover.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-11-200601:47 PM




Ilana
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chad
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Re: Beaufort

I was thinking mainly of Beaufort. His financial failure meant the loss of his friends- he had to retire in another country. Also, something I read in either the preface or the intro led me to believe there was a disillusionment of society in general- I think that this was, for the most part, true of the times....

Thanks for your input, I'll continue onward...

Chad
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ELee
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Beaufort's loss

chad wrote:
"...a friendship was actually contingent on your own success in business."
"...financial failure meant the loss of his friends-"

Beaufort's loss of at least one friend was of his own doing and in no way contingent upon success or failure in business. He was a man "of proud and unbending disposition" who "could not bear to live in poverty and oblivion...where he had formerly been distinguished for his rank and magnificence." Victor's father "with truest friendship...bitterly deplored the false pride which led his friend to a conduct so little worthy of the affection that united them." Beaufort's pride was obviously of more importance to him than the support of a true friend.
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Beaufort's loss

Wow. This is a really interesting piece of the story I've never really thought of before. You're making me think about Beaufort--and I wanna beg you, ELee, to have a softer a heart for these guys: Poor Beaufort, I'm thinking!

Beaufort "fell, through [bad luck], into poverty." He felt so outcast and ugly about his poverty that he fled society. This is Victor's granddad we're talking about. And Shelley starts the novel with this tale. So it sounds like a frame to set a tone.
A man fled society for his ugliness, his lack of wealth, his outsider status. Then Victor produces Beaufort's great grandson of sorts, a parallel outcast. Isn't Shelley partly crituquing the larger society that can't see through appearances?



Ilana
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chad
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Re: Beaufort's loss

Hi everyone!

I agree with everyone. Just to clarify: friendship is often contingent on financial success and maybe the loss of true friendship is something Shelly noticed as society became more meracntilistic. I would say also that appearances are something we care about as we grow older and something we try to teach our children to care about--again, this may stem from mercantilism.

Chad
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chad
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Mercantilism and Clerval

Just to add:

The best example of mercantilism being directly responsible for the loss of friendship and also the subsequent creation of "Frankenstein" would be the loss of Frannkenstein's friend Clerval, who could not attend Ingolstadt with Victor due to his father's( a merchant) wishes... Victor lost a friend-- a friend who could keep him grounded in morals, I think.

Later,
Chad
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ELee
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Tulip bulbs were once a form of currency in Holland

OK Chad, because you’re so agreeable, I’ll play the “trade” game with you. You are right. Clerval’s father did not see the point in cluttering his son’s mind with knowledge beyond that of “bookkeeping”, because he was (to capsulate “Vicar of Wakefield”) able to make a living without it. However, he was prevailed upon to allow Clerval his “voyage of knowledge” as a result of his affection for his son. That affection could coincide with the “liking” and “trusting” in the definition of “friend”, and therefore not appear compatible with mercantilism. Robert Walton’s ambition to navigate a passage near the pole might also have implications to trade. Once past the inspiration of discovering a “country of eternal light”, the “wondrous power which attracts the needle”, and treading a land “never before imprinted by the foot of man”, Captain Walton proposes that there is “inestimable benefit” in charting a course to “those countries, to reach which at present so many months are requisite”: as in a more rapid route for shipping of merchandise in trade. Lucky for us, Walton “preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in [his] path”, otherwise we would never have known the story of Victor Frankenstein and his creature.
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