T HIS COMPREHENSIVE COLLECTION OF chapters demonstrates the thrilling range and diversity of Frankenstein Studies. Mary Shelley dreamed up the story in the Regency era, within a group of writers who together form one of the key crucibles in the history of Romanticism. Infused with classical and literary allusion, her story may be a metaphor for the French or Industrial Revolutions; it may be an exploration of contemporaneous science or the gendered psyche; it may be a deeply personal psychoanalytical narrative. It is all – and yet none – of
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of the most popular novels in western literature. It has been adapted and re-assembled in countless forms, from Hammer Horror films to young-adult books and bandes dessinées. Beginning with the idea of the ‘Frankenstein Complex’, this edited collection provides a series of creative readings that explore the elaborate intertextual networks that make up the novel’s remarkable afterlife. It broadens the scope of research on Frankenstein while deepening our understanding of a text that, 200 years after its original publication, continues to intrigue and terrify us in new and unexpected ways.
Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein reflects both Romantic critiques of autonomy, as they have been recently defined by Nancy Yousef, and discourses of isolation and addiction as they appear in key texts by Samuel Coleridge and Charles Lamb. For Coleridge and Lamb, addiction leads to what current specialists often call ‘terminal uniqueness’, a feeling of isolation both incommunicable to others and incapable of being heard by a non-addicted audience. In its own portrayals of isolation, Frankenstein may be seen to intersect with these larger discourses of isolation, chemical dependence, and what Anya Taylor calls ‘the empty self ’ of Romantic addiction.
Graphic children’s texts and the twenty-first-century monster
F RANKENSTEIN ’ S MONSTER MAY SEEM an unwelcome intruder in the child’s nursery. Indeed, in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), the monster and the child cannot coexist. Constituted by disinterred corpses, orphaned on his birthday, and unloved even by his creator, Shelley’s monster is a being bereft of childhood; he partakes in none of the revered innocence and divine vision that constituted the Romantic ‘child’ idolised by Shelley’s contemporaries. The horror of the monster’s uncouth physiognomy, as described in Shelley’s novel
Frankenstein (or the Monster
that often goes under his name) and Dracula are without doubt the
two ‘stars’ of the horror genre as well as being the
most influential and widely known products of literary gothic. This
fact raises the question of how Hammer’s Frankenstein and
Dracula cycles relate to the earlier novels and films which
originated and developed these figures. To put it another way, how
can one conceive of Frankenstein’s and Dracula’s
historical passage from their nineteenth
Faced with the task of explaining a particular phenomenon or event […] the historian first recognises that the event under study is not a one-dimensional ‘thing’ but the point of convergence for various lines of historical force. (Allen and Gomery 17)
I N 1957, FAMILY - OWNED H AMMER Film Studios released Terence Fisher’s The Curse of Frankenstein , and with one inexpensive genre movie the small British studio
M UCH OF THE SIGNIFICANCE of Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein (1974) lies in its engagement with Frankenstein ’s adaptation history and early cinema conventions, which it accomplishes through a brilliant mix of parody and homage. The more they are well versed in Frankenstein ’s film history, the more viewers are able to appreciate the jokes in Young Frankenstein that cover a full range of characters, scenes, props, and film techniques, alongside literary, film, and cultural critiques.
M ARY S HELLEY ’ S F RANKENSTEIN (1818) occupies a rare position in our cultural memory: most of us ‘know’ it regardless of whether or not we have read it.
This circumstance owes much to James Whale’s 1931 film adaptation, which is often credited with establishing the definitive visual lexicon for Frankenstein . 1 Of course, Whale’s is not the first visual adaption of the novel. Prior to 1931, Shelley’s novel was adapted numerous times for the stage – e.g., Richard Brinsley Peake’s Presumption (1823) and
Responsibility and obedience in I, Robot and X-Men: First Class
W HILE FILMS AND TV shows such as Frankenweenie (2012), I, Frankenstein (2014), and Penny Dreadful (2014) adapt, revise, and extend Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) for the screen, with notable differences in mood and message, other films echo and expand on Shelley’s classic tale of creation gone awry in ways that are more indirect and unexpected. In a sense, these indirect adaptations have more freedom to complicate and modernise Shelley’s text, since they transpose her characters and conflicts into fresh contexts with
divests a person
of their humanity, ‘ as if such person was naturally
dead ’, 3
while Alexandre Kojève equated the slave with a ‘living
In Frankenstein , in which ample use is made of the discourse of
slavery, Mary Shelley’s monster, like the slave, embodies the
dead, having been made out of corpses by Victor