cover image The Annotated Frankenstein

The Annotated Frankenstein

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, edited by Susan J. Wolfson and Ronald Levao. Harvard/Belknap, $29.95 (392p) ISBN 978-0-674-05552-0

Wolfson and Levao, professors of English at Princeton and Rutgers, respectively, revivify the original 1818 version of Shelley's classic in this illuminating annotated text. Beginning with a thoroughly researched introduction to the author's life and the "life" of Frankenstein, Wolfson and Levao draw parallels between the novel's themes and the losses and turmoil that plagued Shelley. Moving along, their commentary draws from an abundance of criticism, focusing primarily on the novel's allusions to Paradise Lost, Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," and the myth of Prometheus. At a more local level, the duo dutifully notate Shelley's ingenious use of language and her husband's edits. All this, plus historical and literary contextualization, revised passages from the 1831 edition, and reproductions of relevant artworks and movie stills make this version of the canonical classic an impressive addition to the study of Frankenstein. While ideal for students of English, this book is accessible enough for anyone desiring a deeper reading of the novel, and does just what a well-annotated work should do, shedding a bright light not only on the text in question, but also on its historical moment and literary forebears. 98 color illus. (Oct. 31)