Frankenstein

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Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. London, UK: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones. 1818.

Especially in the film versions (classically in James Whale's 1931 movie with Boris Karloff),[1][2] the scene of the creation of the Creature involves memorable interfacing of the technological and the organic (if dead). Still, Jessica Riskin argues cogently for Frankenstein as a key Romantic (and Gothic) work in the controversy over mechanistic analyses of (biological) life, in a milieu where matter was discussed as "'divided into two great classes, living and dead.' Rather than contrasting life with nonlife — the inanimate — the Romantics set life up against death. What was not alive was dead." Therefore the Creature (more often, if unfairly, called the Monster) "represented the central dilemma of contemporary science to which all living beings were constituted by an inherent agency and yet made out of dead matter" (ch. 5, here p. 207). This is a significant for the background debate on mechanism vs. vitalism, and in the novel Brian Aldiss has identified as the first true work of science fiction (Billion/Trillion Year Spree 1973/1986).


RDE, finishing, 18May21