Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 2011

'Frankenstein' (Mary Shelley) has entered fictional history as a book about a man-made monster. However, this is a gross understatement for a book that contains as its central themes ideas about idealism and passion, selfishness and cruelty, good and evil. Under any circumstance this would make for a compelling novel, but it is one that has gained new relevance amidst the contemporary debate about genetically created animals and genetically modified foods.

When it was first published in 1818, 'Frankenstein' must have appeared to be just another horror story, chilling, but ultimately inconceivable in reality. At a time when people believed God to be the author of creation, any serious suggestion that man could create life must have been considered blasphemous. In essence, 'Frankenstein' is the story of a young scientific genius, Victor Frankenstein, whose studies lead him to discover the means of creating life. Compelled by his passion, and thinking of nothing beyond scientific achievement and the consequent academic glory, Frankenstein uses this knowledge to create a quasi-human being. This one action changes the lives of Frankenstein and those around him in ways that he never imagined and he appears powerless to do anything to prevent the terrible consequences of his actions.

Today, two hundred years on, scientists are actually capable of creating a life and, like Victor Frankenstein, nobody really knows how this will affect the world. The modern reader must almost inevitably see 'Frankenstein' in the light of modern science. In this light, Shelley's novel reads like a treatise against genetic science containing a dire warning of the consequences of 'playing God'. However, Shelley's literary priorities may lie in a different direction. 'Frankenstein' also explores the duality of human nature and the way in which people are perceived by society. Shelley suggests that the treatment they receive as a result of social perceptions will ultimately draw out or suppress certain elements of their nature. ~ Review by Katie Dean

We met at Red Butte Gardens for a picnic, and it was delightful~ as soon as the rain stopped!

Holly Says: I found Frankenstein to be fascinating.  Living in a time when consequences seem to be something from the past, I found Frankenstein the ultimate example of living with the ramifications of your actions.  How easy is it to start something, lose control, and then … what?  What responsibilities do we owe to our fellow creatures, and what can happen when we neglect those duties?  I loved Katie Dean’s review above and I loved the book!

Leslie Says: The story was interesting and well written, but overall I found it a boring read and could hardly wait until it was over. Certainly there was food for thought, but I would have been able to get everything out of it that I did if the entire story had been limited to the monster's retelling of his own experience.

Sue Says: I liked the book but I didn't totally love it. It was very thought-provoking and the story was much different from the popular perceptions and I'm glad I read it.

Karen Says: I had a hard time enjoying this book, about 100 pages in (it is only about 190 pages) it got a little better for me. But this is what I love about book clubs, I never would have read this book if Holly hadn't chosen it. Now I am off to read a something a little less dark.

Linda Says: : I am giving it 3 stars for being well-written however, this is not my kind of book. It was dark and depressing from beginning to end. Since it was written as a horror story, I think she accomplished her goal - but the story itself was "not my cup of tea."