Editions of Frankenstein – Part II

Scholars D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf argue that even Mary Shelley’s first edition of Frankenstein, published in 1818, was “heavily influenced by [her] husband” in terms of both style and ideas. Furthermore, the second edition, released in 1823, was prepared by Mary’s father William Godwin, “without any participation from the author.” Mary Shelley accepted most of Godwin’s minor edits when she herself revised the book for its 1831 third edition, and she also implemented large-scale changes that completely alter the message of the novel. Anne K. Mellor argues that in 1818, Shelley grants Victor the free will to abandon his pursuit of creating life at any point; whereas in 1831, “he is a pawn of forces beyond his knowledge or control.” For this reason, several scholars have concluded  that the 1831 edition is “largely a different book from the 1818 edition.”

Sources:

  • “A Note on the Text,” in Frankenstein: the 1818 text, edited by D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf (Ontario: Broadview Press, 1999).
  • “A Note on the Text,” in Frankenstein, edited with an introduction and notes by Maurice Hindle (New York: Penguin Books, 2003).
  • Mellor, Anne K. Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters (New York: Routledge, 1989), page 171.
Picture of a scared scientist and his creature

Frontispiece of 1831 edition of Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (From the holdings of Special Collections & University Archives, UCR Library, University of California, Riverside.)