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Frankenstein : A Cultural History
by Susan Tyler Hitchcock


Overview - Frankenstein began as the nightmare of an unwed teenage mother in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1816. At a time when the moral universe was shifting and advances in scientific knowledge promised humans dominion over that which had been God's alone, Mary Shelley envisioned a story of human presumption and its misbegotten consequences.  Read more...

 
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More About Frankenstein by Susan Tyler Hitchcock
 
 
 
Overview
Frankenstein began as the nightmare of an unwed teenage mother in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1816. At a time when the moral universe was shifting and advances in scientific knowledge promised humans dominion over that which had been God's alone, Mary Shelley envisioned a story of human presumption and its misbegotten consequences. Two centuries later, that story is still constantly retold and reinterpreted, from Halloween cartoons to ominous allusions in the public debate, capturing and conveying meaning central to our consciousness today and our concerns for tomorrow. From Victorian musical theater to Boris Karloff with neck bolts, to invocations at the President's Council on Bioethics, the monster and his myth have inspired everyone from cultural critics to comic book addicts. This is a lively and eclectic cultural history, illuminated with dozens of pictures and illustrations, and told with skill and humor. Susan Tyler Hitchcock uses film, literature, history, science, and even punk music to help us understand the meaning of this monster made by man.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780393061444
  • ISBN-10: 0393061442
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Publish Date: October 2007
  • Page Count: 392
  • Dimensions: 8.56 x 5.84 x 1.15 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.18 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Literary Criticism > Gothic & Romance
Books > Social Science > Popular Culture - General
Books > History > Social History

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 179.
  • Review Date: 2007-08-06
  • Reviewer: Staff

Literary historian Hitchcock (Mad Mary Lamb: Lunacy and Murder in Literary London) leads readers on a guided tour of Frankenstein appearances in this colorful and consistently entertaining narrative. The history begins, appropriately, with the monster's unlikely creation by Mary Shelley as a result of a ghost story challenge (also taken up by John William Polidori, whose tale of a vampyre would later inspire Bram Stoker). Hitchcock then lays bare the publishing world of the 19th century, a veritable Wild West of unauthorized stage adaptations, parodies and continuations in which Frankenstein thrived. James Whale's Karloff classic gets its due, as do the disturbing and innovative 1910 Edison Company production and the 1952 live television broadcast starring a drunk Lon Chaney Jr. Running throughout the book is the parallel story of the invocation of Frankenstein in the public discourse as a metaphor for subjects ranging from the Crimean war to genetically modified organisms. While some Frankenstein dilettantes might find the narrow focus of the book somewhat tedious, there are enough strange and delightful anecdotes to keep most readers engaged. B&w illus. (Oct.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Frankenstein: A Cultural History

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has been frightening readers for 200 years, and Susan Tyler Hitchcock explores the journey in Frankenstein: A Cultural History. Hitchcock explains the story's lasting relevance by detailing its evolution from book to big screen (and to comics, costumes, TV shows, tea towels, etc.).

 
BAM Customer Reviews