Item description for Frankenstein (Ignatius Critical Editions) by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley & Joseph Pearce...
Overview Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the most influential and controversial novels of the nineteenth century; it is also one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted. It has been vivisected critically by latter-day Victor Frankensteins who have transformed the meanings emergent from the novel into monsters of post-modern misconception. Meanwhile Franken-feminists have turned the novel into a monster of misanthropy. Seldom has a work of fiction suffered so scandalously from the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism. This critical edition, containing tradition-oriented essays by literary scholars, refutes the errors and serves as an antidote to the poison that has contaminated the critical understanding of this classic gothic novel. The Ignatius Critical Editions represent a tradition-oriented alternative to popular textbook series such as the Norton Critical Editions or Oxford World Classics, and are designed to concentrate on traditional readings of the Classics of world literature. While many modern critical editions have succumbed to the fads of modernism and post-modernism, this series will concentrate on tradition-oriented criticism of these great works. Edited by acclaimed literary biographer, Joseph Pearce, the Ignatius Critical Editions will ensure that traditional moral readings of the works are given prominence, instead of the feminist, or deconstructionist readings that often proliferate in other series of 'critical editions'. As such, they represent a genuine extension of consumer-choice, enabling educators, students and lovers of good literature to buy editions of classic literary works without having to 'buy into' the ideologies of secular fundamentalism. The series is ideal for anyone wishing to understand great works of western civilization, enabling the modern reader to enjoy these classics in the company of some of the finest literature professors alive today.
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Studio: Ignatius Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 8" Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2008
Publisher ISI Distributed Titles
Series Ignatius Critical Editions
ISBN 1586171380 ISBN13 9781586171384
Availability 0 units.
More About Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley & Joseph Pearce
Wendy Steiner is the chair of the English department at the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Scandal of Pleasure.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley lived in London. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in 1797 and died in 1851.
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The first Gothic novel Oct 31, 2008
Mary Shelley was the daughter of the famous feminist and author, Mary Wollstonecraft, who is best known for her work The Vindication of the Rights of Women. In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a young university student, Victor Frankenstein, obsesses with wanting to know the secret to life. He studies chemistry and natural philosophy with the goal of being able to create a human out of spare body parts. After months of constant work in his laboratory, Frankenstein attains his goal and brings his creation to life. Frankenstein is immediately overwrought by fear and remorse at the sight of his creation, a "monster." The next morning, he decides to destroy his creation but finds that the monster has escaped. The monster, unlike other humans, has no social preparation or education; thus, it is unequipped to take care of itself either physically or emotionally. The monster lives in the forest like an animal without knowledge of "self" or understanding of its surroundings. The monster happens upon a hut inhabited by a poor family and is able to find shelter in a shed adjacent to the hut. For several months, the monster starts to gain knowledge of human life by observing the daily life of the hut's inhabitants through a crack in the wall. The monster's education of language and letters begins when he listens to one of them learning the French language. During this period, the monster also learns of human society and comes to the realization that he is grotesque and alone in the world. Armed with his newfound ability to read, he reads three books that he found in a leather satchel in the woods. Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther, Milton's Paradise Lost, and a volume of Plutarch's Lives. The monster, not knowing any better, read these books thinking them to be facts about human history. From Plutarch's works, he learns of humankind's virtues. However, it is Paradise Lost that has a most interesting effect on the monster's understanding of self. The monster at first identifies with Adam, "I was apparently united by no link to any other being in existence." The monster, armed only with his limited education, thought that he would introduce himself to the cottagers and depend on their virtue and benevolence; traits he believed from his readings that all humans possessed. However, soon after his first encounter with the cottagers, he is beaten and chased off because his ugliness frightens people. The monster is overwrought by a feeling of perplexity by this reaction, since he thought he would gain their trust and love, which he observed them generously give to each other on so many occasions. He receives further confirmation of how his ugliness repels people when, sometime later, he saves a young girl from drowning and the girl's father shoots at him because he is frightful to look at. The monster quickly realizes that the books really lied to him. He found no benevolence or virtue among humans, even from his creator. At every turn in his life, humans are judging him solely based on his looks. The monster soon realizes that it is not Adam, the perfect being enjoying the world, which he is most alike. Instead, he comes to realize that he most represents Satan. The monster is jealous of the happiness he sees humans enjoy that he has never attained for himself. The monster tells Frankenstein that he found his lab journal in his coat pocket and read it with increasing hate and despair as he came to understand what Frankenstein's intent was in creating him. The monster curses Frankenstein for making a creature so hideous that even his creator turned from him in disgust.
Shelley's intent here is plain to see. "The fate of the monster suggests that proficiency in `the art of language' as he calls it, may not ensure one's position as a member of the `human kingdom." In a sense, she is showing that both her parents were mistaken when they advocated greater education reform for people. They thought education would make people better, which in turn would improve society for all. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein contradicts this belief.
Starting with the full title of Mary Shelley's book, Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus one can instantly see that mythology was integral to her book. Lord Byron, poet and friend of the Shelley's was writing a poem entitled Prometheus, and Mary was reading the Prometheus legend in Aeschylus' works when she had a dream, which was the impetus for her book. The Greek god Prometheus, is known for two important tasks that he performed, he created man from clay, and he stole fire from the gods and gave it to man. The stealing of fire really angered Zeus because the giving of fire began an era of enlightenment for humankind. Zeus punished Prometheus by having him carried to a mountain, where an eagle would pick at his liver; it would grow back each day and the eagle would eat it again.
The presence of fire and light in this gothic story helps to point to the similarities to Prometheus and Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the monster, in Shelley's book. The book uses light as a symbol of discovery, knowledge, and enlightenment. The natural world is full of hidden passages, and dark unknown scientific secrets; Victor's goal as a scientist is to grasp towards the light. Light is a by-product of fire that the monster learned quickly when he is living on his own. The monster experienced fires' duality when he first encountered it in an unattended fire in the woods. He is mesmerized by the fact that fire produces light in the darkness in the woods, but is shocked at the sensation of pain it gives him when he touches it. Victor is defiant of god in the same way that Prometheus was defiant of Zeus. Victor steals the secret of life from god and creates a human out of spare body parts. He does this out of an altruistic wish to spare humankind from the pain and suffering of death. Thus, Victor Frankenstein embodies both aspects of the Promethean myth creation and fire. Victor in a sense has the same experience with the fire of enlightenment similar to his monster; he is "burned" by the fire of enlightenment. Victor also suffers from the classic Greek tragic condition of hubris for his transgression against god and nature.
The book also adopts two other great mythic legends. One is Adam from the Bible. Victor Frankenstein bears striking resemblance to Adam and his fall from grace for eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. The other is Satan, a mythic figure that Shelley admired from her readings in Milton's book Paradise Lost. In an interesting juxtaposition of booth myths, she expands on the motif of the fall from grace in her book when she portrays the monster comparing himself to Adam; after he read, Milton's book Paradise Lost. The monster tells Victor, that he at first identifies with Adam God's first creation. "I was apparently united by no link to any other being in existence." However, after several incidents of mistreatment that he suffered from the humans he encountered in his travels; the monster soon realized that it is not Adam, the perfect being enjoying the world, which he was most alike. Instead, he came to realize that he most represented Satan. The monster's feelings of hatred and despair stem from the fact that humans found him grotesque to look at and would not accept him as a member of human society. The monster cursed Victor for making a creature so hideous that even his creator turned from him in disgust. Thus, it is obvious for all to see that Shelley's Frankenstein is replete with mythological references and they are central to the plot.
This was required reading for a graduate course in the Humanities. Recommended reading for anyone interested in history, psychology, philosophy, and literature.
For Shelley try the Cambridge Companion; for bioethics Father Richard McCormick Aug 29, 2008
This is a low level attempt to cash in on home schooling Christian paranoia and fear of health care. This turns a gothic horror story into a theological textbook condemning any fruit of the scientific method (explicitly mentioned) of the past (and next) two hundred years.
For a far more scholarly examination of the work of Mary Shelley (dismissed here as the product of a feminist mother and a poet husband) try the necessary The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley (Cambridge Companions to Literature). And although the hyperventilating advertising matter on the product page here dismisses it as a "popular textbook series" (calling themselves a "tradition-oriented alternative" as if OXFORD and NORTON are NOT the one and only tradition in upper education!) read the essential Frankenstein (Norton Critical Editions) for far more academic and peer-reviewed pieces about this still disturbing novel.
The only reason the Opus Dei right wing publishing (or reprint) house is selling this novel is to milk the home school market and to support its own bizarre bioethical ideology, which Mary Shelley nearly invented here: Science is bad and only produces monsters beyond our control; in vitro fertilization is to be banned and condemned as sin against God Almighty; stem cell reserach and the rest are abominations which cannot be permitted to go on; contraception is a sin and AIDS the fruit of sin.
FOr good solid Roman Catholic moral theology on bioethics, please turn to the good solid accepted Roman Catholic moral theologians in Health and Medicine in the Catholic Tradition: Tradition in Transition (Health/Medicine and the Faith Traditions) as well as Theology and bioethics.: An article from: The Hastings Center Report or To Treat or Not to Treat: The Ethical Methodology of Richard A. McCormick S.J., As Applied to Treatment Decisions for Handicapped Newborns, etc. The Reverend Father Richard McCormick, SJ, is the renowned leader of Roman CAtholic Moral Theology in the field of bioethics in the USA. Those bombasts speaking here outside their field of expertise but eager for tenure and publication by the bizarrely ideological Ignatius Press are merely associate professors of English literature, not theologians.
Despite the lengthy daitribe condemning Oxford, etc., as non-traditionalist (!) given as an "Editorial Review" upon this product page, very little information is forthcoming about this unfortunate and redundant publication in itself. We see it is edited by a certain Joe Pearce, writer in residence at Ave Maria College in Naples, Florida. We wonder has the original text been edited, and which version is presented, the original or the much altered later edition. And even though there is no way of knowing from the product page, Joe has assembled an odd batch of essays to accompany the text, which do not represent the promised "traditional readings of the Classics of world literature" but a radical re-reading of the text from a tightly constrained and unique ideology. For truly "tradition-oriented criticism of these great works" read the Norton and the Cambridge (here most wrongfully accused of having "succumbed to the fads of modernism and post-modernism"); here from Ignatius you find unsupportable, unacademic and unreviewed right wing political rant, which is why its authors and titles are here concealed. We do not find "traditional moral readings of the works" as advertised, but radically untraditional perspectives trying to inculcate in our youth a certain political position. Yet we are promised a traditional reading, unlike the alleged "feminist, or deconstructionist readings that often proliferate in other series of 'critical editions'" of which the old faithful Norton and Oxford have been specifically named. Notice the quotation marks pointedly placed around 'critical editions' as if Norton and Oxford are the frauds rather than Ignatius itself.
Yet Ignatius claims to "represent a genuine extension of consumer-choice, enabling educators, students and lovers of good literature to buy editions of classic literary works without having to 'buy into' the ideologies of secular fundamentalism." SECULAR FUNDAMENTALISM!! Oh, so that is what Oxford and Norton have been up to all of these yeares of literary criticism!! Whereas Ignatius claims innocence of any form of ideological fundamentalism! Bless those traditional minded English literature professors who save us from such brainwashing!
Please notice the works published in this series are public domain, as are most of the works published by Ignatius. But to claim the title of Critical Edition they tack on a few tedious and ideologically correct essays. So who are these essayists superior to Norton's and Oxfords and free of deconstructivist feminist secular fundamentalism, experts so august Ignatius should want them mentioned on their product page yet are nowhere to be seen? Here is a listing:
Jo Bath, science historian at England's Open University (some sort of on-line thing?) writing about The Spark of Life: The Science Behind Frankenstein, a title quite similar to some of her sources, e.g., It's Alive! The Science Behind Frankenstein's Art. Her scientific view is full of laden descriptive adjectives such as gruesome and dissing the French, but of this more later.
Philip Nielsen, an architectural grad student at Notre Dame who has a degree in English and contributes: Frankenstein as Mythic Tragedy: The Horror Story of the Culture of Death (originally published in sometihng called the Saint Austin Review or StAR, v. 6, n.2, 2006). He fails to define what is the Culture of Death; presumably it goes hand in paw with deconstructivist Secular Fundamentalism, but more on this later. He turns to CS Lewis and John Paul II to define myth rather than Jung or Joseph Campbell. He apparently finds it tragic Victor does not marry his creation as in Pygmalion, but fails to pursue Mrs. Shelley's own indication of the Promethean myth.
Thomas Stanford II, associate professor of English literature at something called Christendom College in Virginia, editor of Faith and Reason, who adds: Will the Real Monster Please Stand up? Creator and Creature in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. On page 248 of this volume he notes "a challenge to God's supremacy" and a "seeking to go beyond the bonds that define and circumscribe material creation." Is not God's creation infinite? What then not only bonds but also defines, and also circumscribes? Perhaps we find a clue in this earlier statement from page 254 on the "destructive nature of actions uninformed by knowledge of moral principles." May we note this as well in our occupation of Iraq? Or are we bound and circumscribed merely to specific applications in the field of bioethics?
Finally from the Southern Catholic College in Dawsonville, Georgia who writes on page 274 of his "You have read . . ." that "Frankenstein has become the dominant metaphor for our cultural weariness in the realm of techonology and bioethics." If so only because we refuse to study our dominant Roman Catholic moral theologians who write so eloquently on God and bioethics, such as Catholic Moral Theology in the United States: A History (Moral Traditions).
Briefly, Jo on page 225 calls the "details of the experiments gruesome indeed" and this from our scientific and medical expert in the book. She hypothesizes on page 227 that good old Benjamin Franklin is the actual inspiration for Victor Frankenstein(!): "Franklin lived i a house with more than ten illegally anatomized corpses buried under it. It has been suggested that the name of Frankestein draws upon that of Franklin." Is this what they call tradition minded criticism??!! ANd as scientific expert in the house, she contributes Pastor Joseph Priestley's "conclusion that it is very dear for philosophical discoveries to purchase them at the expense of humanity." So much for stem cell research and a cure for Alzheimer's!
Nielsen provides a radical new reading of Shelley as "pro-life" prophet clarifying "fundamental truths and first principles." Dude, it's a horror novel, okay? Take a breath already! This architectural grad student proposes "an incarnational reading that deals with fundamental questions of the relationship between man and the divine ( . . .) an issue at the heart of Frankenstein." He raises a horror novel to the level of bioethical theological guide, easily dismissing such encumbrances as "form and historical fact" by calling it myth. Thus we have Reagan's invented anecdotes (myths) about Cadillac welfare queens dictating and permitting cruel public policies.
As Nielsen warns of unspecified "fundamental perversions that are the foundation of a culture of death" we wonder where is the tradition-minded textual criticism. Please note Nielsen's hubris in this: "Aristotle's answer in his Poetics would undoubtedly be hubris and if this answer is not entirely correct it at least provides a starting point." Get this: He poses himself a question, he inserts a nearly irrelevant answer from Aristotle, just to drop a name, and then blames Aristotle for not giving a complete answer?? This is the hubris of the architectural grad student! He then goes through misapplying the Scholastics in order to condemn any scientific reserach as evil, and finds this horror in Frankenstein: "The second horror of Frankenstein is that of a man creating without a woman, the horror of reproduction without spiritual cooperation . . ." Well, there goes in vitro fertilization . . .
He calls Pygmalion okay as a creator, because he is an artist and begs the aid of Venus and has wonder; Victor is a mere technician. He thereby easily and explicitly condemns the whole process and philosophy of the scientific method, inclduing apparently that needed by grad students to get their dissertations done. He finds therefore the third horror of Frankenstein the ugliness of the creation. It ain't purty. He concludes on page 242 that Frankenstein is ultimately "the tragedy of the man who cannot see others as persons, but only as objects." and opines "If Frankenstein haaad ever given his creation any consideration as a person he could have in all likelihood averted the suffering." Earlier he wrote of "his crude materialism that in turn produces his failure either to consider the soul of his creation or to plan for his betterment (page 241)."
With this taste of the essays, we may now determine whether the editor has successfuly achieved the stated claim this old public domain work which he says is "one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted. It has been vivisected critically by latter-day Victor Frankensteins who have transformed the meanings emergent from the novel into monsters of post-modern misconception. Meanwhile Franken-feminists have turned the novel into a monster of misanthropy. Seldom has a work of fiction suffered so scandalously from the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism. This critical edition, containing tradition-oriented essays by literary scholars, refutes the errors and serves as an antidote to the poison that has contaminated the critical understanding of this classic gothic novel."
I don't think so, and gratefully turn now to my authoritative Norton Critical Edition of King Lear!