Frankenstein is the most famous novel by Mary Shelley: a dark parable of science misused. Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant but wayward scientist, builds a human from dead flesh. Horrified at what he has done, he abandons his creation. The hideous creature learns language and becomes civilized but society rejects him. Spurned, he seeks vengeance on his creator. So begins a cycle of destruction, with Frankenstein and his 'monster' pursuing each other to the extremes of nature until all vestiges of their humanity are lost. In 1831, Mary Shelley succumbed to conservative pressures and toned down elements of the work. The novel is presented here in its original form and with an afterword by David Pinching.
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Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born in 1797, the daughter of two leading radical writers. Her mother died just days after her birth and Mary was educated at home by her father and encouraged in literary pursuits. She eloped with and subsequently married the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, but their life together was full of hardship. The couple were ruined by disapproving parents and Mary lost three of her four children. Although its subject matter was extremely dark, her first novel Frankenstein (1818) was an instant sensation. Subsequent works such as Mathilda (1819) and The Last Man (1826) were less successful but are now finally receiving the critical acclaim they deserve.