Mary Shelley
Frankenstein Cover

WoGF review #1: "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley


It looks like I'm not the only one to pick Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the first WoGF read, but starting at the origins of the genre made a lot of sense. I had read Stoker and Poe and Melville and other 19th-century gothic writers, but never Shelley, which seems like a major gap. Gender bias in education much?

The story is told at several removes from reality. Margaret Saville, whose voice we never actually hear, receives it as a series of letters from her brother. He in turn copies down the story as he hears it from Victor Frankenstein, the mad scientist he has rescued from an ice floe in the Arctic Sea during a polar voyage.

The Arctic setting was bracing and unexpected. From page one the book resonates with the beauty and danger of uncharted territories, and the human drive to get there no matter what the cost. "I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation," the narrator Walton writes to his sister. "It ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is for ever visible, its broad disk just skirting the horizon, and diffusing a perpetual splendor." What Walton encounters on his lonely journey north, however, is not so much delightful as terrible: the ruined scientist at the end of his life, pursuing his monster to the end of the world.

Click the link below for the full review!