Sunday, May 26, 2013

Frankenstein - The Best Modern Edition

The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein, Volume I, Chapter IV

Frankenstein is simply one of the most enduring archetype tales of Western Civilization. The Oracle of Ottawa has come to it a number of times in his lifetime. The first time as a child, when I read it in Classics Illustrated, No. 26. At that time the Oracle of Ottawa enjoyed it as a story of a crazy doctor that patched together his very own home made man. How twisted weird is that? And just a hell of a good story. Later on in life the Oracle of Ottawa read the actual novel, and still took it as a great ghost story, and began to ponder the utter intricate detail, and its ability to draw you in. The third time the Oracle of Ottawa, much older and wiser now, came upon the Belknap Harvard annotated edition in hard cover. Now the Oracle of Ottawa realizes that it is all more than just a superficial story. It is all so much deeper than that.

Belknap - Harvard edition
The Annotated Frankenstein is a masterpiece of American printing. It warms the Oracle's soul that Americans still print books in the actual United States of America, right down to the silk like end papers! The margins are as wide as Texas, and the annotations are very scholarly and deep. Which will provide many searches on Wikipedia, that will take you to post graduate depth in no time. Just follow the links. And best of all it is cheap! Or in a more sophisticated phrase; represents excellent value. This is the most definitive edition, that balances content perfectly with artistic craft and beauty. And all that detail, will still bring the goose bumps to you just like the first time you read it when you were a little kid. Well actually with all the background thrown in, it actually makes the book even more scary!

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster

 As the Oracle of Ottawa came to Frankenstein for the third time in his life, he realized that this is much more than a scary story. It is a masterpiece, a damming indictment of a system that the author observed being born in her lifetime, but as of yet, did not have a name for. It is the story of a mere mortal of a man that thought he could cheat God so to speak. He would use all the methods that had recently been discovered, and combine them in his own selfish way that would create something greater than the sum of its parts. But as you have no doubt noticed in earlier readings he did not ponder the effects of his creation on the greater common good, and, of course, the results were monstrous.

On top of the text of Frankenstein, there is included a ton of fascinating information. The Oracle of Ottawa found the chronology just fascinating. And I won't give anything away. But the editors did miss one or two interesting dates. For example, in 1776, was the publication date of Adam Smiths Wealth of Nations! And in 1818 the first edition of Frankenstein was published, the same year as the birth of Karl Marx...              

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