Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
by: Kathryn Harkup
To be Published: Feb 2018
2018 marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece– Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus. Widely recognized as one of the first (if not the first) work of science fiction, this revolutionary novel has truly withstood the test of time (and continues to haunt middle school literary criticism to this day). Some may already know the broad strokes of how this story came to life: on a dark and stormy night (of course), 18 year old Mary joins her friends in a competitive game to see who can write the best horror story. Inspired by the rational ideals of the Enlightenment and recent advances in electricity research, Mary writes the short story that she will later develop into the novel we know and love.
Making the Monster dives quite bit deeper into the historical context of this work, piecing together not only Mary’s biography but those of her family, friends and any intellectual or “natural philosopher” she may have been influenced by. This is interwoven with the upheavals in politics and the sciences leading up to her education and journey away from home. Though the narrative unravels into countless tangents and side-histories, it is well-organized and cohesive. This is a book for anyone who enjoys reading about the history of scientific progress– the controversies, the blunders, and the experiments that got us where we are today1. Whether or not you enjoyed (or even read) Frankenstein, if you appreciate its significance in history and are ready to fall down the rabbit-hole of alchemy, galvanism, and medical experimentation (oh my!), check it out.
// I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
|*blows dust off drawing pad* 2018 resolutions here we go!|
1. If weird medical history is your thing and you’re not already listening to the Maximum Fun podcast “Sawbones” Run, don’t walk.