I spend more time in my car than I really like, and I divide the road time between plotting fiction in my head, listening to music, listening to NPR or talk radio — and sometimes listening to those things I keep calling “Books on Tape” even though they are on discs.
I tend to listen to dusty old Gothic horror or historical fiction, the kind of stuff with prose that allows a good actor to really emote and play around with spooky tones or frightened voices or foreign accents. My most recent choice was “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus” by Mary Shelley.
I really enjoyed it. The voice actor (whose name escapes me at the moment but which I’ll add after I get back into my car and read the disc jacket) had a splendid time voicing Victor and his monster. He brought it to life, so to speak.
I love this book, and its themes, and its Gothic horror feel, and its moralizing — it’s just very enjoyable. Still, it had been years since I’d read it. Upon this “re-reading,” it really struck me just how poor a protagonist Victor Frankenstein really is. He whines through most of the novel. He creates his own problems, spurred by his own hubris and ego. He denies his own creation, then wallows in self-pity when that creation reacts badly to being created only to be shunned and feared. Victor is mired in self-loathing and accounts himself the most miserable of people, even while maintaining a self-serving silence about his experiments that allows the monster’s string of vengeance killings to continue.
Victor isn’t much of an action hero, either. He overlooks the import of the monster’s warning — “I will be with you on your wedding night!” — and assumes the golem plans to kills its own creator, and so is shocked when the monster kills Victor’s darling bride instead. All this, even though the creature has already established a pattern of killing people close to Victor because Victor refuses to make a bride for the monster. And it never even occurs to Victor until way late in the novel to start packing a gun.
Nonetheless, I love this book and I’m glad I got reacquainted with it.