November 2, 2008 at 5:03 pm (Books) (, , , , , , )

I just finished reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I really enjoyed this book, although I have to say that for a classic horror novel, I didn’t find it scary at all.  It was certainly a bit suspenseful, and very interesting, but it did not frighten me.  And just for the record, I am the single most easily frightened person that I know.  So if I didn’t find it scary I doubt that anybody else will.

I have a few words of warning for anyone buying what are now considered “classic” novels.  If the book is now in the public domain, be careful that what you are buying is actually that book. Also, skip the introduction, read it last.

I purchased Frankenstein online, the first time that I bought it.  Yes, I had to buy the book twice.  That’s because I assumed, when I placed my order, that any book labelled with the title of Frankenstein and the author Mary Shelley, was the book I was looking for.  I bought the cheapest one, because, well, why pay more for the same thing.

The problem came when our order arrived, and I pulled from the box the Dover Childrens Classics, large print, illustrated, very very abridged (30 pages long) copy of Frankenstein.  I went back to the online order to see just how stupid I had been.  It really was an easy mistake to make.  You have to read into the back cover description a couple of sentences to find the words children, illustrated or abridged.

So I returned this book, and bought another one, in person this time.  Knowing that I finally had the right thing, I sat down to enjoy my book.  As well as the original text of the novel, this book included two introductions and an afterword.  Now, I highly recommend the introduction to the book written by Mary Shelley herself.  Most copies of this book I’ve seen contain this introduction, and it is a good lead in to the story.

The other introduction however, was written by someone who seemed to assume that anyone reading this book was already completely familiar with the story.  While I was loosely familiar with the book:  I knew it was about a man creating a monster, I knew that Frankenstein referred to the name of the man rather than the monster, etc.  I did not however know that certain characters would be dying, until I was halfway through the introduction.  I knew that the monster in the book was intelligent (unlike most Frankenstein novels) but I did not know many characteristics that were mentioned in the introduction.

So my second word of warning is simple: don’t read the introduction until you’ve read the book, because the person who wrote it may assume you already know everything.


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