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Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley. (Summer 2014)

In summer 1916 on the shores of Lake Geneva, four young people came together in what has become one of the most significant literary events of all time. Bad weather drove them indoors, and they decided to each write a ghost story to pass the time. Three of those stories they envisioned in each other’s company survive today, the most important being Frankenstein. This book contains not only those three “ghost” stories, but also a lengthy introduction explaining how it all happened.

The Tragedy’s Workshop edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein contains the complete text of four works: (1) Mary’s Frankenstein, Or The Modern Prometheus, (2) Fragment of a Novel by Lord Byron, (3) The Vampyre by John Polidori, and (4) Origins and Aftermath of Frankenstein by David Sheppard. The four chapters of Origins and Aftermath provide the biographical and theological background for understanding how Frankenstein came to be. It includes a description of the events at Lake Geneva during the summer of 1816 that inspired the works by Mary, Byron and Polidori, which launched what we now consider the Horror genre of literature. It puts these works in a philosophical perspective that confirms the tremendous importance of these works today.

Mary Shelley was the daughter of the famous philosopher/anarchist William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, the first modern feminist and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Her mother died in 1797, ten days after Mary was born, and Mary would visit her grave to read her mother’s writings and escape her stepmother’s wrath. She met Percy Bysshe Shelley when she was fifteen, and they soon “eloped” even though he was married with a child and another on the way. In 1816 on the shores of Lake Geneva, the couple congregated with Lord Byron, and there Mary, then but eighteen, conceived her famous Frankenstein, a novel that would never go out of print and would be even more important to our 21st Century world than it was to hers.

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