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Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus | [Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley]

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus

At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering "the cause of generation and life" and "bestowing animation upon lifeless matter", Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts. However, upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Simon Vance narrates this no-frills production of what is widely regarded as the first science-fiction novel ever published. This classic horror story may be one of the most oft-recorded novels of all time, but this version is certainly a fine one. In fact, it's hard to imagine one better. Simon Vance's regal English accent provides the perfect tone for this early-nineteenth-century moral exploration of mankind's use of knowledge. Mary Shelley wrote this novel which may surprise those whose experience with the story is only from movies. Nearly two hundred years later, it is still thoughtful and completely worthwhile.

Publisher's Summary

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only 18. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering "the cause of generation and life" and "bestowing animation upon lifeless matter", Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts. However, upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness.

Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant best seller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science-fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? And how far can we go in tampering with Nature?

(P)2008 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A novel which excites new reflections and untried sources of emotion." (Walter Scott, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (22 )
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4.0 (8 )
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3.8 (8 )
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Performance
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  •  
    John 23/12/2012
    John 23/12/2012 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
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    5
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    "Accessible"

    Well narrated. Good to have the record set straight on this book. Nice to hear the way language was written and spoken. Not impenetrable like Shakespeare, much closer to the current version of the language we use today.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Markus LondonUnited Kingdom 27/10/2009
    Markus LondonUnited Kingdom 27/10/2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    2
    1
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    Overall
    "An essential and exciting classic, expertly read."

    The classic science fiction novel, a gothic tale of science run amok. The book tells the tale of the life of Victor Frankenstein, and how he discovers the secrets of life. Filled with scientific fervour, he works to create life in his laboratory, and only pauses to contemplate the ramifications of his creation after it is loose. Terrible events follow.

    This is so much more than a cautionary tale of what happens when science is untempered by morality. Rather, we gain an insight into the minds of all involved, including the scientist in his thirst of knowledge and respect, and his creature in its lonesome intelligence. Shelley contemplates what makes a human - and it is not just body parts.

    The language of the book, while somewhat floral by today's standards, is easy to understand and very pleasurable.

    The book is expertly read by Simon Vance. ?Subtle variations in pitch and intonation differentiate the characters without being irritating, giving the title a slight feeling of dramatisation. The reading is suitably expressive.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ant St Albans, United Kingdom 03/01/2014
    Ant St Albans, United Kingdom 03/01/2014 Member Since 2012

    I dance around and sing a song and know that I can do no wrong.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hasn't aged well"

    While the concepts that the book discusses are very valid today and interesting, I'm afraid I found the style of writing too decorative without adding anything to the tale. This made the story a chore to wade through. I found myself using the dead time in the novel (during overly flowery descriptions of a persons many good qualities) to pick holes in the plot: "yea, I get it, your sister is the most saintly of people, whom you love to distraction... but not enough to write her a letter to stop her worrying about your health".

    I also failed to find any of the characters particularly likeable - I'm sure taking to your bed for 2 months after a shock was all the rage back then, but it served to lower my enjoyment even further.

    The narration was fine, but I'm not sure the Genevois accent sounds so similar to the Transylvanian one I remember from old horror films.

    All in all, I would have preferred to have read a synopsis and left it at that.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Beulah, United Kingdom 15/07/2010
    Peter Beulah, United Kingdom 15/07/2010 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Frustrating"

    A cautionary tale of an incredibly irresponsible and infuriatingly self-indulgent and mawkish scientist who creates the 'Monster' and then spends the rest of the book running away from it feeling sorry for himself. Maybe in 1818 when the book was first published, peoples sensitivities would bring them down on the side of the 'tortured' scientist, but listening to in today, I just felt sorry for the monster and cheered him on all the way.

    I found myself not giving two hoots for Frankenstein or his fast-diminishing family and felt the scientist at least got everything he deserved. An interesting book that I enjoyed listening to as a 'classic', but in it's own right it was quite frustrating, with it's deeper historical context being sidelined somewhat by my desire to throttle the scientist and insist he grow a back-bone and deal with his creation.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-4 of 4 results
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  • Tad Davis
    Philadelphia, PA USA
    03/09/08
    Overall
    "Great reading"

    This is yet another excellent reading of "Frankenstein." There are actually several really good performances of this book on Audible. Simon Vance tends to emphasize the lyrical Romanticism of the prose. Others have other strengths: George Guidall emphasizes the brooding tragedy; the three-reader version from Blackstone highlights the unusual structure of the narrative; and Flo Gibson gives what I think is the only available recording of the shorter 1818 version of the text. (Most use the 1831 revision.) I seem to be collecting versions of this book without realizing it. Vance's reading is lively and clearly differentiates the three major voices in the book (Walton, Frankenstein, and the Creature).

    55 of 55 people found this review helpful
  • Joy
    MIDLAND, TX, United States
    10/03/11
    Overall
    "Frankenstein"

    The book is so much more than the movies or the stage productions. Isn't that true 99% of the time? Simon Vance brings Dr. Frankenstein and his monster to life. Great reading of a great book.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Kimra
    Tuscola, TX, United States
    20/06/11
    Overall
    "Frankenstein"

    Wow. Wished I would have read this much earlier in my life. Excellent over all in the writing and the narrator. No complaints and really enjoyed it.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Henry
    Grafton, MA, United States
    18/01/11
    Overall
    "Great read of a great book:"

    This being the first time I have read/listen to this book I was amazed. This is not the modern day Frankenstein I was brought up with. This was a lot more then I expected. It was simply great! What added to the wonder of my experiences was the awesome narration of Simon Vance. I have listened to Mr. Vance’s narration in past and have found him to be very enjoyable but, this narration takes the prize. You won’t be disappointed with this book or the narrator.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Krystal
    SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, United States
    20/09/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I know why it's a classic!"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus?

    I found myself conflicted. I strongly disliked the monster because of his cruel nature. But I felt bad for him as well. I enjoyed the story from his point of view. A memorable moment was how his beloved "protectors" reacted to him.


    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    All around great! Did a good job of sounding different when portraying Dr. Frankenstein vs. the monster. Sounded very gruff as the monster. Which fit perfectly.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When the a falsely accused girl is put to death. It signified how Dr. Frankenstein's world was spiraling out of control for me.


    Any additional comments?

    I was hesitant to listen to this book. I thought I'd be bored. I like zombie and vampire stories to pass my time. However, this story is truly interesting! I enjoyed it to the point of being a little disappointed it had to end. This was nice change from my typical genre of books. I will be reading many more classics now!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Sam Motes
    Tampa
    28/04/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So much more to the beast than a B Movie has been"

    It is hard to believe Shelley wrote this cornerstone of the horror and sci fi genres at the age of 19. The beast she creates is Far more intriguing than the B movie fodder the Frankenstein monster evolved into. Prometheus retold for sure but a tale of utter loneliness and regret as well.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • caroline
    ChulaVista, CA, United States
    01/11/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great listen!"

    This book is a classic and one of my all time favorites. Simon Vance adds so much more to the story with his rich, scary voice.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Halethorpe, MD, United States
    20/03/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not the movie monster, a wordy, worthy classic"

    Some books are classics because they were the first of their type, not because their literary value is really that great. Frankenstein is an entertaining enough book with a kernel of a story — Doctor Victor Frankenstein, overcome with hubris, figures out how to animate life from dead body parts — and creates a wrathful creature. There are also a number of interesting philosophical questions which Mary Shelley partially addresses through the medium of her characters' long, long soliloquies.

    "You, who call Frankenstein your friend, seem to have a knowledge of my crimes and his misfortunes. But in the detail which he gave you of them he could not sum up the hours and months of misery which I endured wasting in impotent passions. For while I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires. They were forever ardent and craving; still I desired love and fellowship, and I was still spurned. Was there no injustice in this? Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all humankind sinned against me? Why do you not hate Felix, who drove his friend from his door with contumely? Why do you not execrate the rustic who sought to destroy the saviour of his child? Nay, these are virtuous and immaculate beings! I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on. Even now my blood boils at the recollection of this injustice."

    Frankenstein's nameless monster is much more interesting than in the movies - he's more of reanimated superman than a shambling zombie, possessed of extraordinary eloquence. Every time he meets someone, he gives a long discursive speech, usually a self-justifying one. The monster is unfairly persecuted, denied the friendship it genuinely desires, and then betrayed by its creator. However, it also commits murders whenever it's aggrieved, then swears that it would never have done so if only people weren't so mean to it. So, you feel sorry for the creature, but it's hardly an innocent. Ultimately it's left to the reader to decide who is more responsible and who is the greater villain: Frankenstein or his monster?

    That said, Frankenstein is really not a very well-developed novel; the characters all act in foolish, contrived manners, and none of them have any depth (the monster probably has the most complicated personality). The plot kind of plows along with foreshadowing a ten-year-old could see, and the prose is very, very purple even by 19th century standards. It's very much the sort of story you'd expect a clever, talented teenager with a vivid imagination to write, which is what Shelley was. Because she didn't have a lot of competition in 1818, especially in this genre, she got published.

    Do I think this was a bad book? Well, I was never bored, and it is a classic. And it does make you think about how much the monster is to blame for its behavior. (I think Shelley's intended message, that Doctor Frankenstein's hubris brought about all the destruction, is a bit washed out by the more compelling question of free will.) I would recommend anyone to read the original story, but rather like Dracula, it can be a bit of a slog at times. I would recommend trying the audio version, as I did: a good narrator (like Simon Vance) can pull off the long, wordy monologues without sounding as stiff and absurd as they seem in print.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rebecca
    Galt, CA, United States
    18/10/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Reading. Defidently a Romantic though."

    The audio was great. The words were said with fluency. The story was dark though. If you like the Romantics, this is the book for you.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • suzanne
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    22/04/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Get ready to be depressed!"
    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I never realized Frankenstein's Monster (who is never given a name) was such an eloquent, well-spoken, thoughtful, sensitive and sympathetic character. Mind you, he's also a ruthless killer, but as the story unfolds you find out the reasons for his behaviour.


    Any additional comments?

    This is one of the most depressing books I have ever read/listened to.

    Don't get me wrong: this book is a classic and should rightly be considered one of the greatest examples of English literature... but holy crap. If you have depressive tendencies or even if it's kinda gray outside and you're feeling a little blue - this book isn't gonna make you feel better.

    Steven Vance is an excellent narrator - although I found myself "tuning him out" - not sure if that was because the story was so bleak and I needed to keep my sanity or if it was just his reading. Nevertheless, he does a good job with the voices of the different characters.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
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