Lobsters Stuffed With Tacos

A Hero's Journey Through Science Fiction

Frankenstein: The Letters

I’m in the midst of reading Frankenstein, which begins on a rather, uh…

Look, I don’t want to call it a boring start, but the book kicks off with an overture of rather uneventful first-person letters from a Robert Walton to his sister. (At first I thought his name was Watson, and I have Watsons in my family. Then I double-checked the spelling and found I was wrong. Perhaps you have Waltons in your– Hey. Waltons, as in John-boy and Mary Ellen. Hm. Hillbilly relations from across the pond maybe? No.)

Any-hoo. This Robert Walton is a bit of a self-made adventurer, and as far as I can make out is captaining a ship through the ice floes of the arctic, where he happens upon a gigantic figure on a sled team of dogs, of whom the crew quickly loses sight. The next day the crew happens upon a smaller more weather-beaten traveler with a sled and only one dog. (They were delicious.) This emaciated figure is of ill health and is taken in by the captain, who personally nurses him back to some moderate level of comfort. After a time, this man, name of Victor, last name Frankenstein (did you feel that cold breeze?), begins to tell his tale in a series of first-person chapters to Robert…

In the first chapter I learned that Victor was in pursuit of this gigantic figure, whom he refers to as a demon. (I assume a demon in the sense of being rotten and evil, like the Grinch, but not quite so much fun as the Gingrich.) Victor later elaborates on his life’s story–his family, his friends Henry Clerval and his first-cousin Elizabeth, and his intense fascination with the latest of philosophical and scientific discoveries of the day and age: steam, air-pumps and electricity–all to bring Robert Walton and the audience up to speed.

“My dreams were therefore undisturbed by reality; and I entered with the greatest diligence into the search for the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life. But the latter obtained my most undivided attention: 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!” –Victor to Robert

Hm… Banishing disease, eh? Invulnerability, eh? Uh…

(Psst. Hey. Run for your lives…)

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