Books: The Man-Made Monster

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Most of us first became acquainted with Frankenstein and his terrifying creation not through the pages of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel but through our childhood Saturday afternoons at the movies . . . By the time we read the novel the images from various films are so firmly imprinted on our minds that it is almost impossible not to filter the events and images of the book through the more familiar ones of the films. We are apt to distort the novel to fit a familiar mold, miss what is fresh or unfamiliar in it. . .

Even in their worst moments, for example, the classic Frankenstein films were never so rhetorical and loftily mannered as the language of the novel. And familiar settings, characters, and actions are missing. Where is Frankenstein's marvelous laboratory? What has happened to the big creation scene?

. . .Where are Fritz and Ygor and Doctor Praetorius? And Maria, the little girl drowned — in the lake?

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