Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley and was first published in 1818 when she was just 20. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young science student in Geneva who is obsessed with the notion of creation and ends up creating a living monster so hideous that he can't even bare to look at it. The story opens with a young man who embarks on a voyage to the North Pole and one day his crew happens upon a nearly dead Victor Frankenstein who tells the crew that he is hunting the monster who has fled from him. Victor then tells his story of the creation of the monster and all of the misery and devastation that this act has caused upon him and his family.
There were several things that fascinated me about this story, firstly in the opening pages you are introduced to the man who narrates the story, but he is not Victor Frankenstein or the monster. He is an innocent third party who the two central characters end up telling their story to. I found this intriguing as when I was at school and every time I've done a creative writing course I have always been told that in the opening pages of your story you should always introduce your main character or tell the action from their perspective. But in Frankenstein you don't meet the central figure (Victor) until the scene is well and truly set via a series of letters that the narrator sends to tell that he is embarking on a voyage to the North Pole where he happens upon Victor. It would appear that that creative writing lesson isn't necessarily always a rule for a great story.
The second thing that fascinated me about this book was that it is essentially a story within a story within a story- still with me? The first story you are introduced to is the narrator as he embarks on his voyage north. The second story is when Victor Frankenstein relays the reasons he is so far north to his saviour (the narrator), the third story is when Victor meets up again with the monster (within his own tale to the narrator) and the monster relays what happened to him immediately after Victor created him and then fled from him. And then you get the story when the narrator meets the monster and you find out the whole story from his point of view. Wow, that's a lot of stories and viewpoints for one little novel! I think Mary Shelley has executed this expertly as I was never once confused about what was happening. It's hard to believe that she wrote this story when she was just 18- it has the plot structure, dialogue and flow of some of the best novels I've read and if I hadn't found out that this was her first entering into the world of writing, I would have expected you to tell me that she was an accomplished writer with many years’ experience and publishing history.
So, if you've never picked up Frankenstein before then I highly recommend you do- it's a classic for a reason!
Have you read Frankenstein? Let me know what you thought of Mary Shelley's classic!