Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Five Things I Learned...

From Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

1. It is harder to read classics now that I am focusing on modern and postmodern writers. The language is burdensome, and there is way more narrative exposition. Today I caught myself sneaking glances at The Devil Wears Prada, which I will probably read in place of Bridget Jones' Diary.

2. The monster in the book is completely different from the Hollywood version. Shelley's version is a brute and a killer, but he is an extremely articulate, intelligent, self-aware brutish killer.

3. Shelley's theme of guilt that one cannot share shows up in modern texts. Victor Frankenstein knows his monster killed a child, and he knows the person who hangs for the murder is innocent. But saving that person's life would mean telling the world that he (Dr. Frankenstein) created a monster from purloined body parts. That reminds me an awful lot of Walter White's multiple secrets in Breaking Bad. Plus, meth lab = mad scientist lab.

4. This did not actually come from the text, but here's a neat article about scientists pinpointing the exact moment when Shelley dreamed up the bones of her novel: Guardian UK. There's an old legend that Shelley wrote this book in a single night. I knew that wasn't true beforehand, but now I don't see how anyone could seriously believe that. It is too complex and has too much depth.

5. There is no reason for me to read men's books ever again. I am not going to lie- I miss them a little already. I guess what I miss most is the autonomy, being able to read whatever I want. I have lost that, even though my year of assigned reading doesn't start until January. But I don't have to go back. There are enough complex, beautiful, rewarding texts by women to keep me engaged and occupied. Frankenstein was both fun and challenging- my favorite kind of book.

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