Annotated Frankenstein

ISBN-10: 0674055527

ISBN-13: 9780674055520

Edition: 2012 (Annotated)

Authors: Mary Shelley, Susan J. Wolfson, Ronald Levao

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Description:

First published in 1818, Frankenstein has spellbound, disturbed, and fascinated readers for generations. One of the most haunting and enduring works ever written in English, it has inspired numerous retellings and sequels in virtually every medium, making the Frankenstein myth familiar even to those who have never read a word of Mary Shelley’s remarkable novel. Now, this freshly annotated, illustrated edition illuminates the novel and its electrifying afterlife with unmatched detail and vitality.From the first decade after publication, “Frankenstein” became a byword for any new, disturbing developments in science, technology, and human imagination. The editors’ Introduction explores the fable’s continuing presence in popular culture and intellectual life as well as the novel’s genesis and composition. Mary Shelley’s awareness of European politics and history, her interest in the poets and philosophical debates of the day, and especially her genius in distilling her personal traumas come alive in this engaging essay.The editors’ commentary, placed conveniently alongside the text, provides stimulating company. Their often surprising observations are drawn from a lifetime of reading and teaching the novel. A wealth of illustrations, many in color, immerses the reader in Shelley’s literary and social world, in the range of artwork inspired by her novel, as well as in Frankenstein’s provocative cinematic career. The fresh light that The Annotated Frankenstein casts on a story everyone thinks is familiar will delight readers while deepening their understanding of Mary Shelley’s novel and the Romantic era in which it was created.
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Book details

List price: $29.95
Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 10/31/2012
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 310
Size: 9.50" wide x 10.75" long x 1.50" tall
Weight: 2.992
Language: English

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in England on August 30, 1797. Her parents were two celebrated liberal thinkers, William Godwin, a social philosopher, and Mary Wollstonecraft, a women's rights advocate. Eleven days after Mary's birth, her mother died of puerperal fever. Four motherless years later, Godwin married Mary Jane Clairmont, bringing her and her two children into the same household with Mary and her half-sister, Fanny. Mary's idolization of her father, his detached and rational treatment of their bond, and her step-mother's preference for her own children created a tense and awkward home. Mary's education and free-thinking were encouraged, so it should not surprise us today that at the age of sixteen she ran off with the brilliant, nineteen-year old and unhappily married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley became her ideal, but their life together was a difficult one. Traumas plagued them: Shelley's wife and Mary's half-sister both committed suicide; Mary and Shelley wed shortly after he was widowed but social disapproval forced them from England; three of their children died in infancy or childhood; and while Shelley was an aristocrat and a genius, he was also moody and had little money. Mary conceived of her magnum opus, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, when she was only nineteen when Lord Byron suggested they tell ghost stories at a house party. The resulting book took over two years to write and can be seen as the brilliant creation of a powerful but tormented mind. The story of Frankenstein has endured nearly two centuries and countless variations because of its timeless exploration of the tension between our quest for knowledge and our thirst for good. Shelley drowned when Mary was only 24, leaving her with an infant and debts. Mary died in 1851 at the age of 54 from a brain tumor.

Susan J. Wolfson is a professor of English at Princeton University and author of many essays on and editions of Romantic-era writers. Her books include The Questioning Presence; Formal Charges: The Shaping of Poetry in British Romanticism; and, most recently, Borderlines: The Shiftings of Gender in British Romanticism.

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