9780385530842

The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein: A Novel

Ackroyd, Peter

ISBN 10: 0385530846 / 0-385-53084-6
ISBN 13: 9780385530842
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Publication Date: 2009
Binding: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
Victor Frankenstein, a serious-minded student from Switzerland, meets "Mad Shelley", poet and atheist, at Oxford University. Soon, the two young men are deep in discussion of electrical science and natural philosophy. Frankenstein begins to contemplate new principles and new beliefs. Frankenstein embarks on his anatomy experiments in a barn in the secluded village of Headington, just outside Oxford. But the cadavers supplied by the local coroner are frequently damaged or decaying, so he moves his coils and fluids to a deserted pottery manufactory in Limehouse. Here he makes contact with the Doomsday men - the resurrectionists - who row across the Thames in the dead of night to bring him the fresh corpses of the recently deadů Spine-chilling narrative and ingeniously clever twists of plot and character.

Review:
Book Description
When two nineteenth-century Oxford students--Victor Frankenstein, a serious researcher, and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley--form an unlikely friendship, the result is a tour de force that could only come from one of the world's most accomplished and prolific authors.

This haunting and atmospheric novel opens with a heated discussion, as Shelley challenges the conventionally religious Frankenstein to consider his atheistic notions of creation and life. Afterward, these concepts become an obsession for the young scientist. As Victor begins conducting anatomical experiments to reanimate the dead, he at first uses corpses supplied by the coroner. But these specimens prove imperfect for Victor's purposes. Moving his makeshift laboratory to a deserted pottery factory in Limehouse, he makes contact with the Doomsday men--the resurrectionists--whose grisly methods put Frankenstein in great danger as he works feverishly to bring life to the terrifying creature that will bear his name for eternity.

Filled with literary lights of the day such as Bysshe Shelley, Godwin, Lord Byron, and Mary Shelley herself, and penned in period-perfect prose, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein is sure to become a classic of the twenty-first century.

Peter Ackroyd on The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein

It is of course obviously true that Frankenstein is a wonderful story, and I was eager to see if I could extend it in other directions. It is a myth and a history, an allegory and a nightmare. I wanted to see if it was possible to maintain all those elements in a re-interpretation of the original text.

I had been greatly impressed by Mary Shelley’s original, but I was eager to tease out some of her assumptions and themes.

I had always been interested in the Romantic movement of English poetry, in the early nineteenth century, and the story of Victor Frankenstein allowed me to explore all the possible meanings of "romantic" in that context. This also meant that I could discuss the worship of electricity and new science in the period. But it also allowed me to introduce the "real" characters of Byron and others into the plot. I wanted to set the story in London, as a way of re-imagining and re-creating the nineteenth-century city. I also wanted to see if I could recreate the language and texture of the period so that the reader would feel connected in an intimate way with a culture and civilization that have now disappeared.

In that I was greatly assisted by the fact that I wrote and presented a series on BBC Television, entitled The Romantics, which allowed me to suggest the lines of continuity between Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and of course Mary Shelley herself. All of these people appear in the novel itself. I was also helped by the fact that in the course of filming I went to all of the sites that appear in the novel itself, particularly the Villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva where Mary Shelley had the original inspiration for her novel. We spent one night filming there, and on the balcony of the house I had an intimation of the novel I was about to write.--Peter Ackroyd

Review

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The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein: A Novel (ISBN: 0385530846 / 0-385-53084-6)
Ackroyd, Peter
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