Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Just over two hundred years ago the young daughter of two philosophers and feminists wrote the first scifi novel, and it’s one that is etched into our cultural imagination of the horrors of science forevermore. That novel is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. But how many of us have actually read this classic?

If you’re not planning on reading it anytime soon, you can at least get a sneak peek through dr. Kathryn Harkup’s podcast. The author of “Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” dr. Harkup takes you through the bizarre historical context of Shelley’s time. The curious invention of the battery, weird experiments with electricity, and grave robbing are some of the highlights. Ethical standards, anyone?

You can find a lot of this context dramatized in some of the many films and series based on Frankenstein. The recent The Frankenstein Chronicles, for instance, stars Sean Bean as a sort of Sherlock Holmes who gets in way over his head with grave robbers and pseudo-scientists. Robert De Niro starred as the monster in 1994’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. And of course there’s the classic flick from 1931 with Boris Karloff as the archetypal portrayal of the monster.

Finally, there’s an interesting little factoid that connects Mary Shelley’s novel to our current pandemic. She was bored and stuck indoors with some friends in the summer of 1816. Do you know why? Kathryn Harkup can tell you 😀


Read the book for free online through Project Gutenberg, on a computer screen or on an e-reader. And join us in discussing it on June 3rd with the Online Book Club organized by SG, VOX Delft, and Hesiodos!