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Frankenstein - Mary Shelley - NEW

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Frankenstein - Mary Shelley - NEW

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley - New

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Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, generally known as Frankenstein, is a novel written by the British author Mary Shelley. Shelley started writing Frankenstein when she was 18 and finished when she was 19. The first edition was published anonymously in London in 1818. Shelley's name appears on the revised third edition, published in 1831. The title of the novel refers to a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who learns how to create life and creates a being in the likeness of man, but larger than average and more powerful. In popular culture, people have tended to refer to the Creature as "Frankenstein", despite this being the name of the scientist. Frankenstein is infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement. It was also a warning against the "over-reaching" of modern man and the Industrial Revolution, alluded to in the novel's subtitle, The Modern Prometheus. The story has had an influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films. It is arguably considered the first fully-realized science fiction novel.


Frankenstein begins with the letters of Captain Robert Walton to his sister. These letters form the framework for the story in which Walton tells his sister the story of Victor Frankenstein and his monster as Frankenstein tells it to him. Walton sets out to explore the North Pole. The ship becomes trapped in frozen water and the crew, watching around them, observes a giant man in the distance on a dogsled. Hours later they find Frankenstein and his own dogsled near the ship, so they bring the sick man aboard. As he recovers, Frankenstein tells Walton his story. Frankenstein grew up in a loving and gentle Swiss family with especially close ties to his adopted cousin, Elizabeth, and his friend Henry Clerval. As a young boy, Frankenstein becomes obsessed with studying outdated theories about what gives humans life. In college at Ingolstadt, he creates what he considers a paragon of humanity from scavenged body parts, but upon bringing it to life, realizes the creature is hideous. Disgusted by and fearful of the monster's appearance, Frankenstein flees.

Henry Clerval comes to Ingolstadt to study with Frankenstein, but ends up nursing him after his exhausting and secretive efforts to create a human life. While Frankenstein recovers from his illness over many months and then studies languages with Clerval at the college, the monster wanders around looking for friendship. After several harsh encounters with humans, the monster becomes afraid of them and spends a year time living near a cottage and observing the family who lived there. Through these observations he becomes educated and self-aware and realizes that he is very different in physical appearance from the humans he watches. In loneliness, the monster seeks the friendship of this family, but they are afraid of him, and this rejection makes him seek vengeance against his creator. He travels to Geneva and meets a little boy in the woods. In the vain hope that because the boy is still young and potentially unaffected by older humans' perception of his hideousness, the monster hopes to kidnap him and keep him as a companion, but the boy reveals himself as Frankenstein's younger brother, so the monster kills him in his first act of vengeance against his creator. The monster plants a necklace he removes from the child's body on a girl, who is later executed for the crime. When Frankenstein learns of his brother's death, he returns to Geneva to be with his family. In the woods where his young brother is murdered, Frankenstein sees the monster and becomes sure that he is William's murderer. Frankenstein, ravaged by his grief and guilt for creating the monster who wreaked so much destruction, retreats into the mountains alone to find peace. After a time in solitude, Frankenstein is approached by the monster. Initially furious and intending to kill it, Frankenstein composes himself upon the monster's pleading. The monster delves into an exhaustive narrative of his short life, beginning with his creation, which fashions an impression of him as an initially harmless innocent whom humans abused into wretchedness. He concludes his story with a demand that Frankenstein create for him a female counterpart, reasoning that no human will accept his existence and character due to his hideous outer appearance. He argues that as a living thing, he has a right to happiness and that Frankenstein, as his creator, has the duty to facilitate it. Frankenstein, fearing for his family, reluctantly agrees and travels to England to do his work. Clerval accompanies Frankenstein, but they separate in Scotland. In the process of creating a second being, Frankenstein becomes plagued by the notion of the carnage another monster could wreak and destroys the unfinished project. The monster vows revenge on Frankenstein's upcoming wedding night. Before Frankenstein returns home, the monster murders Clerval.

Once home, Frankenstein marries his cousin Elizabeth and, in full knowledge of and belief in the monster's threat, prepares for his death. Instead, the monster kills Elizabeth; the grief of her death killed Frankenstein's father. After that, Frankenstein vowed to pursue the monster until one destroyed the other. Over months of pursuit, the two end up near in the Arctic Circle near the North Pole. Here, Frankenstein's narrative ends and Captain Walton assumes the telling of the story again. A few days after Frankenstein finishes his story, Walton and his crew decides to turn back and go home. Before they leave, Frankenstein dies and the monster appeares in his room. Walton hears the monster's sorrowful justification for his vengeance as well as expressions of remorse before he leaves the ship and travels toward the Pole to destroy himself so that none would ever know of his existence.

 

About the Author Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

After Mary Godwin's mother died giving birth to her, she and her older half-sister, Fanny Imlay, were raised by her father. When Mary was four, Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont. Godwin provided his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his liberal political theories. In 1814, Mary Godwin began a romantic relationship with one of her father’s political followers, the married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, they left for France and travelled through Europe; upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet.

In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelleys left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in the Bay of La Spezia. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author. The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53. Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish Percy Shelley's works and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations. Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826), and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Studies of her lesser-known works such as the travel book Rambles in Germany and Italy (1844) and the biographical articles for Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1829–46) support the growing view that Mary Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life. Mary Shelley's works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practised by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and the Enlightenment political theories articulated by her father, William Godwin.

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