Our group chose Frankenstein, the classic Gothic novel written by Mary Shelley, as the book for our final project. Below are the five print versions and electronic versions we found about the book.
Print Version 1: Signet Classics, ISBN: 978-0-451-52771-4
This print version of Frankenstein was published in 2000. It is a quite simple version with no illustrations but just the text. Even the cover page has no hint at the monster, which is different from some other versions. Compared with an electronic version, this one might be slightly confusing during the transition between the letters and the journal entries at the beginning of the story. The ending, consisting of another series of journal entries, looks a little bit intense too, where all of them are squeezed together on several pages. The layout might be improved by separating the letters and journal entries or change the fonts or sizes.
Print Version 2: Chicago Press, ISBN:978-1566-6355-30
This version is a play for performance, an adaptation of the original Frankenstein story by Dorothy Louise to give a contemporary feel for the story. The play is more so a revival so that the characters could be emulated by contemporary persons. It brings them to life, and the subtext of the play’s characters gives a reader a more vivid and personal look into the conscience and convictions of Mary Shelley’s characters. This script version cleverly dramatizes Victor’s action and reactions to the events of the plot (the creator of the monster), and allows for his judgments to be evaluated by the reader.
Print Version 3: University of California Press, ISBN: CX-000-821-273
This 1984 edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus caught my eye because it is an extremely large and heavy volume, the hardcover measuring about 12” x 10”. Barry Moser illustrates throughout the edition. These pictures appear in every chapter or letter in the text. Most of them are dark, creepy images of what Moser imagines the monster to look like. Other pictures illustrate the setting and some of the characters. Most of the illustrations are in black and white, but there are a few in color. There is a table of contents for these illustrations at the beginning of the book. Because the volume has such large pages, the font is very large. Also, there are no paragraph breaks throughout the entire text. Instead, a symbol resembling a cross is inserted where there should be a paragraph break. This formatting might be confusing to the average reader. The titles on the cover pages as well as the chapter headings are written in a spooky, Gothic font. The title on the cover as well as the edges of the pages are blood red, contrasting with the cover’s black background.
(Illustration of the monster’s face by Barry Moser)
(Another creepy monster face by Barry Moser)
Print Version 4: Making Humans: Shelley and Wells, Judith Wilt, ISBN: 0-618-08489-4
The book compares Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, including full texts of both, critical essays, historical context, and an introduction to presents the two texts together. The similarities between the two texts are not the main focus, but rather, the reasons behind the similarities. Wilt attempts to understand the similarities between the two by putting them into context and connecting them to modern society. For example, she discusses the fascination with the manipulation of the human body within these two novels, as well as themes of loneliness and human desires. It is truly an interesting analysis and could possibly be a model for our own literature projects as we compare and contextualize Frankenstein.
Print version 5: Norton Critical Edition, ISBN: 0-393-96458-2
This book has a lot of resources packed into it. The preface gives lots of interesting insights into Mary Shelley’s life, as well as the circumstances under which Frankenstein was originally written. Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Shelley, and three other friends including Lord Byron, agreed to participate in a ghost story contest between the three of them, but Mary was the only one to follow through and produce a significant work of literature. But due to the fact that she was a woman, no one initially believed that it was authored by her. Her husband did make contributions by editing the original story, but people largely overestimated the amount that he contributed. These details could be interesting to explore in our project, as perhaps we could find some sort of correlation between how Mary Shelley began to be recognized for her work and how the image of Frankenstein evolved. This edition does not have any pictures except for a map of Geneva towards the beginning, which could be helpful. It has extensive footnotes and resources in the back of the book, which could also be interesting to explore.
Electronic version 1: Electronic text http://web.archive.org/web/20080917154449/http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/SheFran.html
This electronic text version has a clear layout, which helps readers to understand the story easier and faster. It marks the speaker of each chapter by the chapter title. Since both Frankenstein and the monster spoke in a first-person perspective during the story, mentioning the speaker at the beginning of each chapter enables readers to follow the storyline more smoothly. Meanwhile, this electronic version separates the letters and journal entries in the story from the first-person narration and titles each of them as well. Such layout not only makes the story feel more real, which Mary Shelley was trying to do by adding all these “documents”, but also improves the readability. Besides, this electronic version also attains all the page numbers from the print version.
Electronic version 2: Audio book
This eight-hour recording can be easily experienced as a complete bore for its monotonous quality if a reader has no prior knowledge of the story. It was a word for word recitation of the book that serves to make life easier for anyone interested in Frankenstein, but it will not be a recommended resource for academic purposes. The recording gives a reader that intimacy with the story’s characters as a printed version would. Furthermore, it is hard to bookmark, so if a reader wanted a break they must guess where they last ended; nevertheless, the comments section indicates that many readers were successful with electronic bookmarking.
Electronic version 3: Kindle Book Edition
This edition of Frankenstein is typical of any Kindle book. It consists of plain text all the way through the novel, and all of the Kindle’s interactive functions are permitted. The reader can turn the pages by swiping right to left or left to right. There are tools that allow you to highlight, add notes, search for keywords, and jump to specific places in the novel using the Location numbers. The Kindle also has a dictionary function that, if you hover over a word, will give you its definition. There are tools that allow you to change the font size, and there’s even a tool that lets you post quotes or your reading progress on social media sites. While there aren’t aesthetically pleasing fonts or illustrations, this version is great for anyone who wants an interactive digital reading experience. And the best part: It’s free!
Electronic Version 4: Interactive App
This version of Frankenstein is an interactive, visual version that is powered through an app called “inkel”, which costs $4.99 to purchase. It works in similar ways as some other interactive literature we have explored in class. At the end of the page, the reader chooses the next line of the next page, ultimately determining the path of the story. The text includes text from Mary Shelley’s original published book. In this way, the reader has control of weather or not certain events even occur during the storyline -the reader completely controls the plot. While this is hard to compare to the original published text, it continues to receive excellent reviews as a digital literary tool. One aspect of the program that we do find impressive is the visual experience when reading the novel. While these images were not all part of the original text, they allow the reader to visualize the “monster” and science journal entries. The style of the images, as well as how they are presented to the reader, bring the story into a smooth and modern light -ultimately bringing a new life to “the modern prometheus.”
Electronic Version 5: Archive containing original manuscript
This archive has original manuscripts of Shelley’s novel. The website is easy to navigate, and it is interesting to see the edits made by her husband on the pages. There are options you can select to either show all annotations, only those by Mary, or only those by Percy. The manuscripts each have a clearly typed up version beside them, so the sometimes illegible handwriting is not an issue. There is also always a box underneath that says how to cite the manuscript. It would be really interesting if we could somehow work with this website, although we are not particularly sure how to use it yet. Perhaps if we were interested in a particular passage, it would be interesting to turn to this archive to see what the original version was, and what edits were made to it.