One down, nine to go.
I said I’d read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein ten times, and log how my understanding of the work deepens. I’m counting this as my first go through, as this time I read it with the eye of a 39 year old looking to write about it, as opposed to what I was last time, a 19 year old on a bus in Brighton, lamenting how quickly the batteries on her Discman ran out, so not really paying attention.
I think someone needs to have a work with Mary. Pretty much all the old films pay a large amount of attention to the building of the monster, which is barely a paragraph in the book, with very little detail at that. A little more science fiction there would have been good, so I don’t blame the films for trying to fill that part in. I wasn’t expecting a how-to, but when it comes to building the bride, she doesn’t mention at all where he gets the parts from. I saw the cinema filming of the Nation Theatre production with Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch, and that was one area I was pleased to see the playwright addressed, showing Frankenstein giving money to locals on the Orkney Island in question for their dead, claiming the medical studies he was undertaking could save lives.
In general Mary could have done with doing some more anatomical research. One line particularly surprised me, when Frankenstein is debating with himself regarding the monster’s request for a bride, and finally decides to destroy his work, as one of the reasons is that they might breed. Seeing as he’s making her, it should surely be obvious to him that he could just leave the uterus out. It would just be like that screw you have left over after putting an Ikea table together. Slightly disconcerting that something could be missing, but could be popped in a cupboard in case it was ever needed.
On the positive side, I didn’t appreciate the scenery before. The book moves around Switzerland, Germany, Arctic regions, England, Scotland and Ireland, and Mary’s love of travel comes through. I particularly like it when she goes to places I know, small towns such as Matlock in Derbyshire, making me feel connected.
This week I will track down the Kenneth Brannagh 1994 film version to compliment the beginning of my second reading.
I have also found another film version with Donald Sutherland and William Hurt, which stars Luke Goss. Yes, Luke Goss. The monster has never been so pretty.