Mary Shelley first published Frankenstein anonymously on New Year’s Day in 1818. Only 500 copies were printed in the first run, but two centuries later the tale remains an enduring cultural phenomenon. Frankenstein, The First 200 Years is an exhaustive investigation of the origins of the story and the myriad interpretations from gothic theatre to racy slapstick films.
Across 208 pages, author Christopher Frayling follows the tale from the 19th Century to the present day, and alongside in-depth writing, the book contains visual essays documenting the way that Frankenstein has appeared throughout the years. Inside you can find examples of the film and stage versions of the story, the books and comics that it inspired and a facsimile of the original manuscript for the ‘creation scene’.
Frankenstein was cited as “perhaps the foulest toadstool that has yet sprung up form the reeking dunghill of the present time,” by one critic when it was first released, but despite its critics went on to inspire over 90 film adaptations between 1931 and 2016. Frayling’s book charts the aesthetic evolution of Frankenstein’s monster and it’s cultural significance to the present day. “The real creation myth of modern times – the era of genetic engineering, three-parent babies, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics and singularity, human/animal interfaces and secularism– is no longer Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden,” says the publisher RAP. “The creation myth is Frankenstein.”