Frankstein is undoubtedly one of the best novels ever written. It is enthralling, stimulating, and insightful. Most of all, like any good work of fiction, it is a fascinating and enlightening study of human nature and of the human condition.
Shelley’s time and circumstances are, of course, reflected in her writing. The Romantic rebellion against the rationalism and high hopes for scientific inquiry and invention which predominated in the Enlightenment are evident. Also evident is a commentary on the Baroque age, which preceded the Enlightenment, and its ideals. From this perspective, the novel can be seen as a commentary on Milton’s Paradise Lost. In some ways, Shelley presages Neitzsche, the great prophet of the 19th century, especially in his proclamation of the death of God. Indeed, as Nietzsche said, God is dead and we have killed him; Frankenstein is dead and his monster has killed him. In all of this, Frankenstein provides us with insight into the minds of and hearts of 19th century men and women.
In yet other ways, however, Frankenstein remains perennially relevant. In its study of good and evil in the heart of man and in the questions it raises concerning the unmitigated good of progress in technology and science, the novel has a strong and important message for those of us living in the 21st century.
I recommend this book to all readers.