"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 107
Believe it or not, I've never read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein before! Everything that I know about the "Modern Prometheus" and his monster, I learned from pop culture. And apparently, there's a lot that pop culture has seen fit to gloss over, like the character of Robert Walton.
Six years have passed since I resolved on my present undertaking. I can, even now, remember the hour from which I dedicated myself to this great enterprise. I commenced by inuring my body to hardship. I accompanied the whale-fishers on several expeditions to the North Sea; I voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep; I often worked harder than the common sailors during the day and devoted my nights to the study of mathematics, the theory of medicine, and those branches of physical science from which a naval adventurer might derive the greatest practical advantage. Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate in a Greenland whaler, and acquitted myself to admiration. I must own I felt a little proud when my captain offered me the second dignity in the vessel and entreated me to remain with the greatest earnestness, so valuable did he consider my services. And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose? My life might have been passed in ease and luxury, but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path. Oh, that some encouraging voice would answer in the affirmative!
LTG mentioned that Frankenstein would be a good segue from last month's Oryx and Crake readalong--and we surely have our first connection here, in our "ordinary" narrator. When I was in uni, the Professor who included Oryx and Crake as an optional novel in his paper said that one benefit of such a framing device is that it makes the most fantastic settings and situations seem more believable. And that's probably why Margaret Atwood didn't get the evil genius Crake to tell his own story, but handpicked his old buddy Jimmy to do it. (Yes, before Crake chose Jimmy, Atwood chose Jimmy. Poor guy.) But Shelley's Walton serves a second--and I daresay, a more important--purpose.