Frankenstein, Annotated with Commentary (Literature in Its Context Book 7)

BookDoors’ FRANKENSTEIN IS the most exactingly, extensively annotated edition of Mary Shelley’s novel available in print or online. Designed exclusively as an eBook, this and the other BookDoors In Context editions afford you swift, seamless access to information and commentary.

The modest price underscores BookDoors’ mission to make these works accessible to an audience of widely different experience and expectations (please see The “Literature in Its Context” series aspires to provide today’s reader with the knowledge an informed reader of 1816 possessed and that Mary Godwin Shelley took for granted.

As you read you’ll have, should you wish, an interpretive discussion of FRANKENSTEIN, one of the landmarks of fiction in the West and the original of a now universal myth. You’ll also find illustrations, a Glossary, a time-line that includes cultural, scientific, and technological developments from 1770 to 1817, a selective bibliography.

Some of the annotations include illustrations and some are short essays exploring, for instance, the novel’s theological and political context, the history of galvanism and the Vitalism controversy, Percy Shelley’s relevant poems, and the bearing Mary Godwin Shelley’s father’s philosophy has upon the novel. Her parents, the pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who died giving birth to Mary, and William Godwin, also a novelist, along with her husband-to-be, Percy, influence the shape Mary’s vision assumes. Many of the annotations and commentary have also been divided into categories that can be searched independently, such as Gender, Education, Body, Mind, Class, Manners & Morals, and Reading & Writing.

To help the reader, the annotations have been divided into into three types, those having to do with words, those with the historical context, and those inviting discussion. The novel’s language is not always familiar. Words, themselves, have changed, disappeared, or are simply arcane. such as “noisome,” “chimerical,” “siroc,” “furies,” “sophisms,” “aiguilles,” and “exordiium.”

The second sort of annotation examines the historical context in which Shelley sets the novel, including her life and its convergences with her fiction, the novel’s social and cultural context, and in her case its literary and especially scientific context. The last, which extends to alchemy and Cornelius Agrippa, is crucial to understanding Shelley’s intentions, the taboos surrounding the creation of life from dead organic matter, and the implications, captured in the Vitalism controversy, such as whether we’re born with a soul, whether we have free will, and what impact our earliest life has upon us. The literary context–Greek mythology, PARADISE LOST, Goethe’s SORROWS, THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER, Rousseau’s ÊMILE, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley’s poetry–shapes the novel. A reader gains immeasurably by having a sense of the scientific context of the half-century or so before the 19-year-old Mary Shelley began it: the remarkable developments in chemistry, astronomy (and ballooning), medicine, anatomy and a rudimentary neurology.

A third level addresses FRANKENSTEIN as a work of the Romantic literary imagination, a novel that has attracted much attention especially from feminist, psychoanalytic, and historicist critics. The commentary focuses upon the novel’s diction, structure as an epistolary novel, its motifs, sub-texts, presiding ideas, and its connections with Romantic literature. Incidentally, the annotations never divulge the plot yet to unfold.

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