At the end of Mary Shelleys haunting story of scientific hubris, Dr. Frankensteins monster floats into the Arctic darkness to let his spirit sleep in peace.
But of course, weve been digging up the poor guy ever since. In movies, TV shows, plays, books and video games, the tale has been sliced and stitched back together in so many ways that the doomed creature likely wouldnt recognize himself.
Its refreshing, then, to see three new editions that zap Shelleys story back to its original.
Serious students of horror should check out Frankenstein Galvanized, edited by Claire Bazin, which contains the 1818 edition followed by eight critical essays. Though relatively short, these pieces provide an interesting variety of responses to Shelley, the themes of her work, and the social climate of early 18th-century Europe.
A number of suggestions for further reading will take college and graduate students deeper into these fields.
Two Croatian artists bring their eerie aesthetic to a gorgeous new edition called Steampunk: Mary Shelleys Frankenstein . Working from the unabridged third edition published in 1831, Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac have produced a thick, square book filled with color illustrations that blend the macabre with Victorian technology. Basic and Sumberac manage to create scenes that are somehow surreal and precise. Heres Dr. Frankenstein wearing dark goggles, screaming with horror and awe at the power coursing through some ghastly machine. No one, he cries, can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane.
The Annotated Frankenstein edited by Susan J. Wolfson and Ronald L. Levao, brings scholarship to life for the lay reader. This latest volume in the irresistible annotated series from Harvard University Press presents the 1818 edition on oversized, creamy-white pages divided into two columns. While the story runs down the inside columns, helpful commentary runs alongside. Every geographical, biographical and literary allusion is helpfully explained; themes are highlighted; and obscure words are defined. A hundred color illustrations sprinkled throughout reproduce manuscript pages, works of art, medical etchings, portraits of Shelley and her friends, and scenes from movie treatments of this deathless tale.