Monday, May 05, 2008

Lunchtime read: Frankenstein

The narrative told by Victor Frankenstein to an increasingly horrified Walton on board the polar exploration boat nears its conclusion.

After having been told by the monster that he had better watch out on his wedding night Victor gets it wrong and thinks that the intended victim is going to be himself. He tells Elisabeth to go to bed and waits with a pistol in the next room. But he hears a scream and runs through to find her corpse and catches slight of the monster leaving through the window.

Guessing that his father and brother might be next he hurries home to Geneva but just the news of Elisabeth’s murder is enough to break his father’s heart and the old man dies three days after being given the news.

Then the hunt starts and Victor vows to catch the monster and end his reign of terror and chases him across Europe until they get close to catching each other. Amidst the ice and the cold Victor finally gives put and it is in letters to his sister that the explorer Walton chronicles the final act with the monster climbing through the window to howl at the discovery that his master is dead. He then announces his intention to kill himself and disappears into the night.

Despite its nineteenth century style, which is not always flowing, this does grip you because you can half predict what is coming but the ending is not something you can foresee clearly. This is so different from the films – let’s face it this would not have been more than an occasional walk on part for De Niro, and the Elisabeth love interest is kept to the margins in the text. The most notably absent detail is how he created the monster, something he keeps secret.

Worth reading and yet again proves that the book can be so different an experience from the film. A review will follow soon…

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