Different Frankenstein Editions
The Frankenstein SAL is almost upon us and if you have yet to pick up a copy of the novel, you may be wondering which edition you should get.
Frankenstein is unique from the other novels we have explored together so far, in that there are actually different distinct editions of the novel. But worry not, I will never assign a specific edition of a novel because as a global community, we may not all have access to the same materials and I never want anyone to feel like they are unable to participate. We will simply deal with any challenges from different editions as they come up. So, please select whichever edition of Frankenstein you would like.
Here is a breakdown of the different editions of Frankenstein that you may encounter:
First, a little history.
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was originally published in 1818, by 20 year-old Mary Shelley, though the first edition did not bear her name. It was published anonymously and would not be credited to her until the second edition a few years later. It inspired theatrical productions of the tale that would be seen on the stage in 1823 and 1826.
In 1831, Mary heavily revised her writing and republished her work in what would be the first "popular" edition of the novel. It is this version of the tale that is most commonly available today.
So, what edition do you have?
If you went to your local bookshop and picked up their basic "classics edition" of Frankenstein, chances are you have the revised, 1831 edition. The original text is still available, but it typically requires searching out and selecting that edition specifically.
I have never personally read the original 1818 text, but from my research it is my understanding that the major differences are thus:
In the revised, 1831, edition, Mary expanded the genesis story in the beginning of the novel and altered some of Victor's beliefs on his work. She also included a lengthy introduction to the novel which is more often than not left out in publishings today.
In the original text, the character of Elizabeth is Victor Frankenstein's cousin. In the revised editions, this character has been altered to be an orphan that the Frankenstein family takes in and who becomes
Other differences we may find between editions is the format of the novel. Some editions of Frankenstein are broken into the original three volume structure, while others contain only chapters. Some of the editions may even find chapters split at different places than others.
I will be reading from Barnes and Noble edition that is broken into three volumes and will be using those as our reading section breakdowns. If your edition does not include the volumes, I will also list the chapter numbers and will be providing lines from the novel in order to help you locate the proper stopping point for each part of our reading.
I think that it will be really fascinating to see how reading the different editions affects your interpretation of the writing. Hopefully it will make for some interesting discussion!