The Afterlife of Frankenstein

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Daniel Gourlay | Q31314 Studying Modern Literature: Semester 2 Portfolio Exercises

The Frankenstein myth has produced over 2,600 pieces of derivative work and 100 films. Post-publication it was critiqued but not heavily. William Godwin, an old radical, was dedicatee on the anonymously published work and so association with him garnered rejections from conservative publications. There were questions over aspects of the novel reflecting preoccupations and values of the time. It was praised in some essays. All in kind showed some respect initially.

        Lawrence published his work and gained notoriety. Through being or fear of being associated with his work Mary Shelley revised her work n 1831 where se removed signs of his ideas. The first play appeared in 1823, Presumption,  making three key changes from the novel: Frankenstein’s religious remorse, the monster being mute and a comic servant called Fritz. It is a cautionary reading followed by The Demon of Switzerland. Before her own changes had been made, she had lost control over her own plot.

        Her edits were damage limitation. Conservative writers were interpreting it however they wanted knowing their readers agreed. She cut what The Quarterly wanted removed from Lawrence’s work.

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        The novel is the first in the mad-scientist genre. Victor has now become more corrupt. The creature is more sensationalised and dehumanised. Playwrights recognised problems in translating the play. The internal reasonings of Victor and the monster were cut. Walton’s framing narrative couldn’t be portrayed. The story became more visual. The monster became the star with more visual violence. There were also comic versions. The plays stay a lot truer to the original than most of the films.

        Silent films found it hard to translate the story onto screen. Thomas Edison’s company created the first film version. James Whale ...

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