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ELee
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sacred

Yes, even "sacred" has become an obsession...it very often leaves me wishing to regress to the "mystical" of our forebears...
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IlanaSimons
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about the 1831 edition vs the 1818 edition

[ Edited ]
Hi ELee,
You’re right—the major change was a “toning down” so it would sell well in 1831, its first popular press run. In the 1818 edition, Elizabeth is Victor’s first cousin; to avoid incest issues in the later edition, Shelley changes the story so Elizabeth is not a blood relation. That said, though Shelley changed lots of the “cousin” endearments to “friend,” “girl,” or “Elizabeth” for 1831, sometimes we still get “cousin” in that text.

In the 1818 version, we get a clearer idea that Frankenstein was committing something immoral in creating the monster. The changes are largely line edits—-you need both versions side by side to catch them. But in the first version, Victor comes from a less reputable family. And in the first version, it’s his father, not a visiting stranger, who introduces him to the power of electricity. His readings in alchemy seem more innocent in the 2nd version. I also think Victor’s religiousness is intensified (though still unable to save him) in the 2nd version.

Honestly, I need to spend a little more time looking into the changes. I can--or others should pipe in here.

what do you all know about the two texts?


I’ll also cut and paste a piece from an article here:
(The October 2002 St John's Eagle; "The Two Frankensteins" by John Harcourt; at http://www.stjohnsithaca.org/Thoughts/TwoFrankensteins.html)
In the 1831 edition, “the events of the 1818 edition are preserved in a new context. Walton is younger, more than ready to take Frankenstein as his model. Elizabeth is no longer a first cousin: the hint of incest removed. Clerval is preparing to join the British ruling class in India. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley now distances her characters from the realities of life so effectively perceived in 1818. They have become pawns in a complex fate initiated by Frankenstein's fateful decision.
Why these changes? Mary had returned to England the year after her husband was drowned off the coast of Italy (1822). She maintained herself by strenuous novel writing; her life focused on her son Percy Florence Shelley, whom she saw through Harrow and Cambridge — a fitting education for one who would succeed his grandfather as baronet in 1844. Thus Mary’s world had become one of early Victorian respectability, far removed from the revolutionary anarchy of 1818.
Perhaps some of the changes in the 1831 text were concessions to the publishers, but they can as well be ascribed to Mary's struggles not just to survive as a woman writer but also to triumph in her new role as mother to a baronet.
The two Frankensteins thus present two quite different versions of the story. It is as though the plot is a mirror in which we can all too easily perceive our own reflected faces. Mary Shelley's improved social position gave her a new reading in 1831. The larger Reform Movement in the 1830s provided another. Did the Monster suggest, as the Tories insisted, the threat of the working classes to the traditional social values?”

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-03-200612:41 PM




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ELee
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Re: about the 1831 edition vs the 1818 edition

Thank you! It sounds like it would be very interesting to compare the differences and what their impact is upon the story. However, I am so glad that the original version was preserved in this case because from the information you have provided, I definitely think that the 1818 Frankenstein is the one I would prefer.
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Re: about the 1831 edition vs the 1818 edition

The Introduction to the Barnes and Noble Classics edition of Frankenstein uses the 1831 edition and does speak a bit toward Mary's changes and why she might have made them.
Melissa W.
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Choisya
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Re: Chapter 17 Acorns and berries



pedsphleb wrote:
I did not know that about the Shelleys! Thanks ELee :smileyhappy: I wonder though why Mary had the creature specifically mention lambs and kids? Maybe it's to bring attention to the innocence of the animals, rather than using sows and heifers which seems kind of mundane.



ELee wrote:
During his efforts to persuade VF to create a companion for him, the creature stated that he and his consort would go to South America and never be seen again.

"My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment."

Interestingly, Mary Shelley and her husband were both advocates of vegetarianism. Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote several essays supporting a vegetarian diet.








Could the reference to lambs and kids be biblical? The Lamb of God and the sacrifice of kids etc.? The Israelites were saved by the blood of the paschal lamb (Exodus 12). Lambs were offered as sacrifices to atone for sins (Leviticus 4.32-34). Similarly the sacrificial goat/kid atones for sin and is where we get the word 'scapegoat' from. Frankenstein was originally as innocent as a lamb but was eventually sacrificed upon the altar of Victor Frankenstein's hubris.
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ELee
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Re: Chapter 17 Acorns and berries

Good point, Choisya. You sure do know a lot of "Bible" for an atheist! (you know I'm kidding, right?!)
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Choisya
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Re: A criticism of Darwin?

ELee wrote: On the one hand [VF] would 'pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation'. On the other hand, when considering the impact of creating a second creature, VF 'shuddered to think that future ages might curse [him] as their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price...of the existence of the whole human race'. Having been consistently preoccupied with his importance and fame in relation to the whole of humanity, how sad is it that in the end 'He is dead who called me into being, and when I shall be no more the very remembrance of us both will speedily vanish.'



'Pioneering a new way, exploring unknown powers, and unfolding to the world the deepest mysteries of creation' was what Darwin did and by doing so unleashed a Pandora's box of doubts about God. Mary Shelley and others perhaps 'shuddered to think' that future ages might curse Darwin as their 'pest', because his revelations seemingly questioned the existence of the whole human race. Did she see Darwin as creating a Frankenstein for future generations?

Darwin's theories were as revolutionary as the radical politics which existed in Europe at the time he wrote The Origin of the Species. Science at this time was also revolutionary, as this quote from the internet on 'The Enigmatic Victorians' shows:-

'The sciences flowered. James Clerk Maxwell completed his brilliant synthesis of the laws of electromagnetism, a synthesis that guides today’s grand unified Theories of Everything. Charles Darwin published his epoch-making theory of evolution. George Boole developed the rigorous logic on which modern computers are based. Lord Rayleigh created the modern theories of light and sound. Lord Kelvin laid the foundations for thermodynamics. Michael Faraday elucidated connections between electricity and chemistry. J. J. Thomson discovered the electron. And Ernest Rutherford demonstrated that atoms possess an internal structure. It was a time of enlightenment. Smallpox was almost totally eradicated in Britain, thanks to universal vaccination. Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts. Florence Nightingale convincingly demonstrated the importance of hygienic medical care. And in the British Museum Karl Marx produced the treatise that would largely determine the course of history in the next century. During this time were built the Botanical Gardens at Kew, the Houses of Parliament, the British Museum, the London Underground, the National Gallery, the Suez Canal, and the Crystal Palace.'

Small wonder that people like Mary Shelley saw all these radical changes as culminating in a nightmarish vision of a world - a monster - out of control and wished that they 'shall be no more' and that 'the very remembrance of [them both would] speedily vanish.'
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Choisya
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Re: The Polar Location

I see the Polar location as mirroring Darwin's voyage on the Beagle to the Tierra del Fuego, very near to the South Pole and VF's intentions, as stated in his letters to his sister, as seeking to imitate the explorations of Darwin.
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Choisya
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Re: Chapter 17 Acorns and berries



ELee wrote:
Good point, Choisya. You sure do know a lot of "Bible" for an atheist! (you know I'm kidding, right?!)




'Know thine enemy' E.Lee:smileyhappy::smileyhappy: I studied comparative religion many moons ago.
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Choisya
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Re: Frankenstein's Legacy

Mary Shelley's monster has left us a legacy of healthy scepticism about experiments on the human body and too hasty attempts to 'play god'. His name is often invoked when medical science attempts to push through too quickly their latest drug or piece of surgery etc. Even those who have not read the book know what is meant when commentators use his fictional creation and end to call for greater caution. That her cautionary tale is imprinted on all our psyche's is perhaps her greatest legacy.
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Choisya
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Re: Shelley and the female creature



ELee wrote:
The successful longevity of “Frankenstein” is due in part to the fact that Shelley did not delve into details about the “scientific” aspects of the creature’s beginning. Robin in VA expressed it very well; “Shelly's brilliance was leaving out the details and letting the readers' imaginations fill in the blanks.”

Current readers may have a tendency to relate to the author and her story as if she were a contemporary, but we must remember that the average person (male or female) of today knows so much more on a casual basis about general science than the people of her time.

The “biology” of the creature is of particular interest. As VF approaches completion of the mate he has agreed to design for his hapless product, in one of his tortured mental ramblings, he concludes that “she might become ten thousand times more malignant” and that the first results of her union with his creature would be “a race of devils” who might make the existence of mankind “a condition precarious and full of terror”. I wonder; did Shelley ignore the possibility that a creature composed of dead body parts and reanimated by artificial means might not possess the capability to reproduce for the sake of the story? Or was she innocent of the basic knowledge that we own, and thus in her reasoning it naturally followed that anything “living” would be able to pass on the miracle of life to it’s progeny?





I find it very interesting (and rather worrying) that VF (therefore MS) concludes the “SHE might become ten thousand times more malignant” and that the first results of her union with his creature would be “a race of devils” who might make the existence of mankind “a condition precarious and full of terror”. He (and MS) seemingly had no such thoughts about his first creation, his Adam, but here he mimics the lot of the sinful Biblical Eve. Mary Shelley was the daughter of one of the world's greatest and earliest feminists, Mary Wollstonecraft, and I therefore find it worrying that she saw the possibility of the creation of a female in such a light:smileysad::smileysad: I suspect that her mother turned in her grave when this was written!
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Re: The Polar Location

[ Edited ]
Shelley began writing Frankenstein in 1816 and its 3rd edition of 1831 was published before the voyage of the Beagle (which began December 27, 1831). In fact Walton's letters are dated March of 17--. Although we can see a mirror now, it wasn't the intention of Shelley. Perhaps it was the isolation and coldness of the polar location that Shelly was stressing - that it signified the creature's life and treatment. That he stood alone in a barren world, devoid of any real life. Maybe it's a warning of what man is capable of doing to himself.




Choisya wrote:
I see the Polar location as mirroring Darwin's voyage on the Beagle to the Tierra del Fuego, very near to the South Pole and VF's intentions, as stated in his letters to his sister, as seeking to imitate the explorations of Darwin.

Message Edited by LizzieAnn on 11-03-200605:25 PM

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Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Shelley and the female creature

I didn't view this in the same way; I don't think Mary Shelley's point was against women. I think it was stressing the Victor realized that he couldn't be sure what he was creating. With his first creature, he gave no thought to how it would act or feel. Now he has witnessed and knows what evil his creature can wreck upon the world. Victor realized that he doesn't know for sure what kind of creature will come into being. It may be meek, as malevolent as the current creature, or even worse. I don't think gender comes into play at all with his ruminations that "might become ten thousand times more malignant."

As to the "race of devils," I think it's simply biology. If the monster has a mate, he will procreate. Will his observations of the monster he has already created, he believes it's logical to assume that the offspring will be just as evil. I don't think Victor's (or Mary Shelley's) implication is that the female will automatically be evil - it more stresses the fact that the female is capable of being the monster's equal in all ways - particularly malevolent ones.



Choisya wrote:

I find it very interesting (and rather worrying) that VF (therefore MS) concludes the “SHE might become ten thousand times more malignant” and that the first results of her union with his creature would be “a race of devils” who might make the existence of mankind “a condition precarious and full of terror”. He (and MS) seemingly had no such thoughts about his first creation, his Adam, but here he mimics the lot of the sinful Biblical Eve. Mary Shelley was the daughter of one of the world's greatest and earliest feminists, Mary Wollstonecraft, and I therefore find it worrying that she saw the possibility of the creation of a female in such a light:smileysad::smileysad: I suspect that her mother turned in her grave when this was written!


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Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Choisya
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Re: about the 1831 edition vs the 1818 edition



IlanaSimons wrote:
Hi ELee,
You’re right—the major change was a “toning down” so it would sell well in 1831, its first popular press run.....In the 1818 Mary’s world had become one of early Victorian respectability, far removed from the revolutionary anarchy of 1818.
Perhaps some of the changes in the 1831 text were concessions to the publishers, but they can as well be ascribed to Mary's struggles not just to survive as a woman writer but also to triumph in her new role as mother to a baronet.
The two Frankensteins thus present two quite different versions of the story. It is as though the plot is a mirror in which we can all too easily perceive our own reflected faces. Mary Shelley's improved social position gave her a new reading in 1831. The larger Reform Movement in the 1830s provided another. Did the Monster suggest, as the Tories insisted, the threat of the working classes to the traditional social values?”

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-03-200612:41 PM







Yes, I believe that Mary was much more affected by the social mores of her time than her courageous and revolutionary mother had been. She succumbed to Victorian conventions and seemed to think more of her role as a 'mother to a baronet' than as owing loyalty to her famous parents, revolutionary husband and radical friends of her younger days. As we would say today 'she sold out'. The very idea of the creation of another human being - a Prometheus who could challenge the mores of ultra-conventional Victorian society, was an anathema to the ruling classes (the Tories) and had to be stamped out lest the working classes were encouraged to arise out of their poverty and torpor to create a societal monster (as had happened in France). As Karl Marx opined, they 'had nothing to lose but their chains' - just as Prometheus and Frankenstein broke out of their bondage, so could they. And of course, eventually, they did, Tories and Mary Shelley notwithstanding!
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Frankenstein - Introduction

When reading the introduction to the Barnes & Noble edition of Frankenstein, a few points struck me as especially interesting.

On page xvii, it tells of how the story illustrates "humankind's own potential inhumanity to itself." It also speaks of the revelance of the story to today's world. How the world today "can accompolish what Victor did in his laboratory...artificially create life." On the same page: "We build glorious temples to progress and technology, monumental structures that soar toward the heavens; and yet in a single September morning, the World Trade Center was leveled -- proving once again that man is his own worst enemy." Is the story a warning as to repercussions or a reminder that actions have consequences?

On page xxiv it mentions the allegory between women giving birth and Victor's creation. "...Victor learns the hard way of the consequences of usurping the female progentitive role. As he labors to create his monster, Victor experiences pain and insecurities that are typical of pregnancy's gestation period;..."

And on the same page "Most powerful of all (and the subject of most of the novel) are his feelings of depression and detachment after the actual birth. Even in our time, post-partum depression remains a misunderstood and often misdagnosed condition; for Shelley in 1818 to depict the negative consequences of this disease left untreated was a revolutionary act." This was such an unexpected idea, and yet seems to fit Victor's actions.

There were many other interesting points. Until recently, I never read introductions, but now I can't imagine not reading them. However, I read them after I read the story so that nothing clouds my reading & interepretation.
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Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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ELee
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Three books, science, and the creature's education

[ Edited ]
Mary Shelley’s husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, shared a fascination in “natural philosophy” and a passion for the occult sciences with her character Victor Frankenstein. It is hardly surprising then that Shelley extended this scientific bent to include the creature’s analytical approach to his own education. With no one to guide him, his rudimentary schooling begins with a trial and error approach. Once established in a shed adjoining a cottager’s home, a chink in the separating wood becomes a lens through which he can study his objects. By careful observation and application of this microcosm of humanity, he advances his abilities of comprehension and communication. During a period of lessons shared with a newcomer to his “protectors” family, the creature finds three books, the contents of which form the basis for his understanding of human history, society and emotion. Interestingly, it was Shelley’s habit to devote some portion of each day to reading and study and these three books were part of her studies during the four years preceding the publication of “Frankenstein”, as evidenced by entries in her journal.

Selecting three volumes that would comprise the greater part of an educational foundation was reminiscent of a favorite movie of mine. At the end of the 1960 version of “The Time Machine”, after George departs to rejoin Weena in the distant future, David Filby asks the housekeeper (Mrs. Watchett) if he took something with him. Her reply is “nothing except three books”, and asks if it is important. Filby smiles and says, “No, I suppose not. –Only…what three books would you have taken?”

Which three books would you choose?

Message Edited by BN_Admin on 11-03-2006 08:10 PM

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Choisya
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Re: The Polar Location



LizzieAnn wrote:
Shelley began writing Frankenstein in 1816 and its 3rd edition of 1831 was published before the voyage of the Beagle (which began December 27, 1831). In fact Walton's letters are dated March of 17--. Although we can see a mirror now, it wasn't the intention of Shelley. Perhaps it was the isolation and coldness of the polar location that Shelly was stressing - that it signified the creature's life and treatment. That he stood alone in a barren world, devoid of any real life. Maybe it's a warning of what man is capable of doing to himself.




Choisya wrote:
I see the Polar location as mirroring Darwin's voyage on the Beagle to the Tierra del Fuego, very near to the South Pole and VF's intentions, as stated in his letters to his sister, as seeking to imitate the explorations of Darwin.

Message Edited by LizzieAnn on 11-03-200605:25 PM







Thanks for pointing this out Lizzie-Ann. I should have checked the dates before posting. I agree with your interpretation.
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Nice to see that you are here...

Hi Choissya,
You might not remember me; I'm Kate from the D.H. Lawrence class. It is great to see you are here.... I am not reading this particular book, but just lurking to see what I might want to read next. I miss the old format of the class room; this organization is not as convenient and has less of the warm welcoming feel of the classroom. I wonder if they did any human factors work on it.


I wish they would bring the old format back.. I haven't bought any books this month; usually I buy five or six. Maybe after I get used to the format I will like it better. I am exploring it right now however. I wish there was some way to provide direct feedback on the site.

Kate
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IlanaSimons
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direct feedback

Hi Kate,
I'm Ilana, a moderator here. I want you to know our feedback is heard. I do read what's posted, and report your ideas. Also, we'll read whatever you suggest in the "help & information" thread. I hope you stick with us.
Ilana



Ilana
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Choisya
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Re: Nice to see that you are here...



Birdlet wrote:
Hi Choissya,
You might not remember me; I'm Kate from the D.H. Lawrence class. It is great to see you are here.... I am not reading this particular book, but just lurking to see what I might want to read next. I miss the old format of the class room; this organization is not as convenient and has less of the warm welcoming feel of the classroom. I wonder if they did any human factors work on it.


I wish they would bring the old format back.. I haven't bought any books this month; usually I buy five or six. Maybe after I get used to the format I will like it better. I am exploring it right now however. I wish there was some way to provide direct feedback on the site.

Kate





Hi Kate - I sympathise with your frustrations! You can give feedback by clicking on Help and Information and giving feedback there. Goodness knows why B&N felt the need to fix such a successful format where 100s were signing on to read their chosen books - perhaps they wanted to get rid of a few readers so as not to overload their site:smileyhappy: One way they could have done that would have been to charge a small subscription. I would have been willing to pay something, particularly as I don;t buy books from them because of the postal charges from the US to UK. Hope to keep seeing you here nevertheless!
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