19 January 2007

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

This is quite possibly one of the greatest works ever written in the English language. It is so flawlessly constructed, so mind-blowingly phenomenal, that I hardly know what to say about it. I just finished reading it, and I'm still totally exhilarated. You may be tempted to disagree with me. Read it again. Seriously, you can get through it in 2 or 3 hours. This was, I think, my 4th time reading it, and only now do I begin to appreciate its genius. The first time I read it I was bored, the second time somewhat interested, the third time rather impressed, but this time, I am completely under its thrall.

It's such a dense text, with so many layers of meaning, its just incredible. You can read it as a parable about the dangers of genius, as a warning about the responsibility a man has for the results of his intellectual labor; you can read it as a contemplation of what makes a man and what makes a monster, you can appreciate it for its curious take on man's relationship to nature, you can enjoy what it has to say about the connection between love and virtue - there is so much going on in the story. What really fascinated me this time was the underlying discourse on sympathy, which I had never noticed before.

The text is composed of these unbelievable tissues of parallels and mirrorings that are so delicate and yet so poignantly brilliant that I literally cheered while reading it. Genius!

No comments: