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.)
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.).