Frankenstein: The 1818 Text (Paperback)
While the 1831 version is the one most modern readers are familiar with, there were two earlier versions published, the very first being in 1818. Major differences include the Paradise Lost epigraph being removed, the first chapter being broken up, and Elizabeth being changed from Victor's cousin to an unrelated woman under the family's charge. Perhaps the greatest distinction, however, is how Victor and Victor's free will are portrayed: in the 1818 version he chooses to stop his experiments.— From Melanie
For the bicentennial of its first publication, Mary Shelley’s original 1818 text, introduced by National Book Critics Circle award-winner Charlotte Gordon. Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
2018 marks the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s seminal novel. For the first time, Penguin Classics will publish the original 1818 text, which preserves the hard-hitting and politically-charged aspects of Shelley’s original writing, as well as her unflinching wit and strong female voice. This edition also emphasizes Shelley’s relationship with her mother—trailblazing feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who penned A Vindication of the Rights of Woman—and demonstrates her commitment to carrying forward her mother’s ideals, placing her in the context of a feminist legacy rather than the sole female in the company of male poets, including Percy Shelley and Lord Byron.
This edition includes a new introduction and suggestions for further reading by National Book Critics Circle award-winner and Shelley expert Charlotte Gordon, literary excerpts and reviews selected by Gordon, and a chronology and essay by preeminent Shelley scholar Charles E. Robinson.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,800 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
About the Author
Mary Shelley was born in London in 1797, daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, famous radical writers of the day. In 1814 she met and soon fell in love with the then-unknown Percy Bysshe Shelley. In December 1816, after Shelley’s first wife committed suicide, Mary and Percy married. They lived in Italy from 1818 until 1822, when Shelley drowned, whereupon Mary returned to London to live as a professional writer of novels, stories, and essays until her death in 1851.
Charlotte Gordon’s previous publications include Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley (2015), Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Story of America’s First Poet (2005), and The Woman Who Named God: Abraham’s Dilemma and the Birth of Three Faiths (2009). Romantic Outlaws was the winner of the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography. Currently, she is the distinguished professor of the humanities at Endicott College.
Charles E. Robinson, was professor of English at the University of Delaware, frequently lectured on “The Ten Texts of Frankenstein” and edited Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus: The Original Two-Volume Novel of 1816-1817 from the Bodleian Library Manuscripts, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (with Percy Bysshe Shelley) (2008), reprinted in paperback by Vintage Books (2009). His other books included Shelley and Byron: The Snake and Eagle Wreathed in Fight (1976) and an edition of Mary Shelley: Collected Tales and Short Stories, with Original Engravings (1976); The Mary Shelley Reader (1990), coedited with Betty T. Bennett; and an edition of Mary Shelley’s Mythological Dramas: Proserpine and Midas (1992) as well as the two-volume Frankenstein Notebooks (1996).
“Gordon’s framing is the real standout of the anniversary edition (…) Highly recommended.”
—N. K. Jemisin, The New York Times Book Review
“Frankenstein is as efficient and resonant a reference today as it was in 1818. . . In this bicentennial year, much will be written about Frankenstein, its adaptations, and whether there exists a definitive or superior version of the novel. . . The 1818 Text is reflective of the thrill and nervous energy that ushered in a new era of science and society. . . But part of what makes it a little unsettling is what makes it so interesting: The chance to watch a 200-year-old novel develop. In a story that's reflected so much of the last two hundred years, and centers so much on choices, storytelling, and the potential for change, it only makes sense that Frankenstein reflects changes within its own creator”
—Genevieve Valentine, NPR