Frankenstein

I got obsessed again with a book. I’ve re-read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and was amazed at the beauty of the English language. Here are my favorite quotes:

We rest; a dream has power to poison sleep.
We rise; one wand’ring thought pollutes the day.
We feel, conceive, or reason; laugh or weep,
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away;
It is the same: for, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free.
Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but mutability!

This beautiful poem is about how a man’s nightmare can seep into the reality and change it. How one misguided obsession can bring someone onto the wrong path and forever change his future.

“I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections inflicted upon me; I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only increased with knowledge. Oh, that I had forever remained in my native wood, nor known nor felt beyond the sensations of hunger, thirst, and heat!”

This one refers to the Ecclesiastes passage saying The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow. If he had not known a better world, he would have never felt so bad for knowing it and not being able to live in it. Once you feel alive, pain will follow with its children hunger, thirst and temperature.

“A selfish pursuit had cramped and narrowed me, until your gentleness and affection warmed and opened my senses; I became the same happy creature who, a few years ago, loved and beloved by all, had no sorrow or care. When happy, inanimate nature had the power of bestowing on me the most delightful sensations. A serene sky and verdant fields filled me with ecstasy. The present season was indeed divine; the flowers of spring bloomed in the hedges, while those of summer were already in bud. “

This is how it feels to be in love. You feel everything strongly, you can see the edges of reality and you are in the middle of spring once more, when everything is young and fresh and untainted. I sometimes wish that this feeling would never disappear.  That all people should be always in love and always happy and carefree. There’d be no more crimes and you would feel peace.

Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind when it has once seized on it like a lichen on the rock. I wished sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling, but I learned that there was but one means to overcome the sensation of pain, and that was death—a state which I feared yet did not understand

Me too! I sometimes have an idea I can’t get rid of. And it bugs me to no end! I can’t sometimes sleep properly because I keep twisting it in my mind. The last one was caused by an article I have read about the ability for the government to listen in on the Internet, telephony and SMS for any keywords and I kept wondering whether I had leaked anything of importance and if yes, how many times. Yes, I know, I should have more mundane worries.

I feel exquisite pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind, and changed its bright visions of extensive usefulness into gloomy and narrow reflections upon self.

I have loads of happy memories from when I was young! Most of them are related to books I’ve read and places I’ve been. But I could not say that my mind changed a lot since childhood. I still find pleasure in the same things but my bright visions are a bit more blurry as the present keeps rolling on to tomorrow.

She was no longer that happy creature who in earlier youth wandered with me on the banks of the lake and talked with ecstasy of our future prospects. The first of those sorrows which are sent to wean us from the earth had visited her, and its dimming influence quenched her dearest smiles

Yep, it happens to the best of us. When love takes off its rosy glasses, what do you see in front of you?

Wealth was an inferior object, but what glory would attend the discovery if I could banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!

I know Victor Frankenstein was guided by the best of the intentions but the result was hellish. He knew it too because he said:

I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.

I keep thinking about Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein and whether it would be OK to put these two in the same area in my book case. His Victor did not give up after the first failure and tried again. His monster was invincible and called himself “Deucalion”. Victor wanted to rule the earth. Deucalion wanted peace and the death of his creator. Their stand-off happens in the 21st century making it great for us to imagine the settings. In comparison, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein seems somehow rudimentary, the country bumpkin that tried to create a monster. The new Victor created an army of clones, twice. He’s more prolific and he loves the high life. Hmmm, I prefer the classic version for the beautiful language, but I love the new version for its action and level of detail put into the lives of the two, 200 years after they had met. I totally recommend it for a reading.

PS: I also noticed something odd when looking through the book again and to see if I was right, I started underlining a few words that kept popping up and have found one piece of the puzzle that is a Gothic novel! It’s the repetition of certain words to create the atmosphere. Put them in the right places and the reader will feel the doom.

The words are: sorrow (30 appearances), miserable (65 appearances), death(84 appearances), unhappy (19 appearances), agony (26 appearances), misfortune (33 appearances), evil (41 appearances), gloom(22 appearances)

 

 

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