The artifactual differences between the Eaton’s unique 1818 Frankenstein and unique 1831 Frankenstein, and between our copies and other copies of the same editions, are fascinating, but why do these different versions of the book even exist? What textual changes did Mary Shelley make, and why do scholars think she made them? In this lecture for English 20C at the University of California, Riverside, PhD student and 200 Years of Frankenstein co-curator (and WhinyPantsFrank mastermind) Miranda Butler tells “A Tale of Two Frankensteins.”
Click “Read More” on the YouTube description to jump to a specific topic within the lecture, or begin at timestamp 30:24 to focus on analyzing the textual differences.
Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus / Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley ; edited by D.L. Macdonald & Kathleen Scherf. Ontario: Broadview Press, 1999 [Eaton copy here].
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. Pennsylvania Electronic Edition, edited by Stewart Curran [available here].
Mellor, Anne K. “Revisiting Frankenstein” in Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters. New York: Metheun, 1988. pp. 170-176 [available here].
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. The Original Frankenstein, edited by Charles E. Robinson. New York: Vintage Books, 2009. More info about the book can be found [here] and [here].
Scott, Walter. “Remarks on Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus; a novel” in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, no. XII, vol. ii (March 1818). pp. 613-620 [available here].
Vint, Sherryl. Science Fiction: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.
Sousanis, Nick. Unflattening. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2015.
Mersereau, Dennis. “Facts about the Year without a Summer” [available here].
You can read Miranda’s musings on Frankenstein and other matters on her blog
The Eaton collection’s extensive archive contains 187 items that feature “Frankenstein” in the title. Though some of these are adaptations, over 50 of them claim to contain Mary Shelley’s original work. But what counts as “original work,” anyway? The Eaton has both a first edition 1818 text, pictured below, originally published in three volumes, and an original 1831 text (third edition), which is printed in a single book. Although scholars have long considered the 1831 text to be authoritative, since Mary Shelley edited it herself, this version also maintains over 100 small changes made by Mary Shelley’s father, William Godwin. What are these changes? Why do they matter? Come back next week for the newest FrankenBlog post!
This FrankenBlog, in true Franken-prefix fashion, brings together many stories — how Special Collections libraries come to know their objects and create exhibits, how creative works make their way into our cultural consciousness, and how people from all different backgrounds, living in all different places, come together to celebrate literature that sparks something special in its readers – something so special that a work can be as thought-provoking today as it was 200 years ago. Because there are hundreds of stories you can tell from as rich a collection of Frankenstein material as lives in the Eaton, we don’t know yet which one we’ll explore. Join us as we assemble the body and bring it to life!
This blog is a year-and-a-half-long celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, originally published in 1818. Shelley’s novel is not only a foundational work of science fiction literature, but also an important cultural touchstone for many genres, including Romanticism, Gothic, horror, and more. As one of the world’s richest and deepest collections of science fiction, fantasy, horror, utopian literature and related genres, the Eaton Collection is a perfect home and context for such a complex and influential novel. Like its famous monster, Frankenstein is a book written in many forms, containing many parts, and combining many seemingly disparate elements – and in the end it tells one unforgettable story. The book has never been out of print since it was published, and has spawned innumerable other creative works and interpretations, including films and television shows, comics and graphic novels, two and three dimensional art, internet memes, and popular slang.
Welcome to the FrankenBlog. In 1816 Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein, and in 1818 it was first published. This blog will commemorate some of the key dates in the writing of the work, talk about events to commemorate it, link to interesting Frankenstein bicentennial websites, and post Frankenstein images from the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy. All of this will build to our 2018 exhibit on 200 Years of Frankenstein!