Monday, October 23, 2017

Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock

Frankenstein: A Cultural History
by Susan Tyler Hitchcock [398.45 Hit] 

This is a fascinating scholarly look at the 200 years of cultural history behind the phenomenon that has grown up around Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein: Or…the Modern Prometheus. But it is not simply for literary scholars — Hitchcock writes with great accessibility, and this book can easily be enjoyed by just the casual reader.

The book is broken into three primary sections — “Part One: Birth”, explaining the origins of Mary Shelley’s story, both in myth and reality; “Part Two: Coming of Age”, exploring the expansion of the Frankenstein story via popular feature films, and how the story was co-opted by other writers and mythologized; “Part Three: Our Monster”, examining how Frankenstein has exploded in the popular culture, and taken on new life in ways that Shelley could never have imagined. Hitchcock provides a coda at the end, “The Monster and His Myth Today”, that synopsizes how broadly the Frankenstein story has permeated cultures around the world.

I found this book a fascinating read, especially for its sense of completeness — even rare, obscure versions of the Frankenstein story get worked into Hitchcock’s narrative — Of course, one of my all-time favorite films, Young Frankenstein, is mentioned prominently, but so is Frankenstein: The True Story, a 1973 TV-movie version by Christopher Isherwood. The history of the creature in a variety of comic-book forms was fairly detailed as well. And Herman Munster from The Munsters gets plenty of mentions.

If you’re even just the slightest bit interested in the history of Dr. Frankenstein and his namesake monster, you’ll enjoy browsing this volume, or even reading it cover-to-cover!

[ publisher’s official Frankenstein: A Cultural History web site ] | [ unofficial Susan Tyler Hitchcock background on — author’s official website appears to be off-line ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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