Lit Lit is a new segment I will be hosting in which I get someone lit, and then that someone chooses a work of literature and gives me a summary and quick discussion of the themes of that work. This week I had the pleasure of getting a friend of mine lit, who will be referred to throughout as Nasty Willow, to discuss Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. I was joined by another companion who chose to go by “Mary Shelley’s Lesbian Lover,” as we discussed the work in a sunny graveyard. Nasty Willow’s dialogue is in Times New Roman, all action is written in italics.
Victor Frankenstein….that’s not how the book starts. Begin–We’re on a ship. And it’s a series of letters from. Arctic explorer? Robert Walton! Okay.
There is then an explanation of the confusing frame narrative for Frankenstein which bewilderingly (to me at least) starts with probably fifty pages of some Arctic explorer talking to the main character after the novel’s central action. I actually get confused and think Nasty is talking about the main narrative, and this leads to a lot of bumbling around for a while.
Mary Shelley’s Lesbian Lover then chimes in, “Is it bad to ask questions?”
“No,” I say, “I have questions myself.”
“If the ship is stuck in ice,” MSLL asks, “how is he sending letters?”
There is then a minute or so long digression in which each of us try to justify how a man whose boat is stuck in unexplored Arctic ice is able to successfully mail letters back to England. We can’t quite articulate ourselves well under the circumstances, so our possible theories and explanations end up confusing everyone else to the point where I’m not even sure we’re all talking about the same book. No one can find a reason how this works, though both NW and MSLL have faith that there’s a professor who could explain it. I myself think that just comes with how terrible of a form epistolary novels are, but the fact remains that I am the same age Mary Shelley was when she wrote Frankenstein, and I have not written a seminal work of literature nor invented the genre of science fiction. So I decide we continue on with Nasty’s relaying of the summary, skipping ahead to Victor Frankenstein’s story.
There’s Victor Frankenstein and there’s his father Alphonse Frankenstein his mother died she’s just in the beginning of the book. Then there’s also Victor has two younger siblings much younger than him William and Ernest. Keep Ernest in mind [Nasty smirks at me] he comes in later. And Elizabeth whose his adopted sister but also like they call her his cousin and also like he’s supposed to marry her one day. It’s pretty weird, nobody addresses how weird it is. ALSO. My personal favorite Henry Clerval is there, an all around good boy, who just wants to look at trees and ride in boats. There’s only one good boy in this book, and it’s Henry Clerval and he’s my favorite, and all he wants to do when Victor is sad and mopey he’s like “I think we should go on a walk and look at trees!” and every time I read that I’m like “Fuck yeah Henry, you got it down.”
Victor found at some point some old ancient books by some ancient philosophers like Cornelius Agrippa and a second guy I don’t remember.
He says “Dad, look at these science books I found.”
And his dad says, “Victor. Pay that no mind. That is sad trash.” Which is savage of Alphonse Frankenstein.
But then Victor says, “I’m gonna go to school. College. University.” He goes to Ingolstadt which is where the Illuminati was founded. That’s not in the book, it’s just true.
[I then dabbed for the Illuminati]
Uh um. And. He says “I want to study science. Hey. I want to study science, look at these three books I love.”
And the professor says, “No. God. That’s garbage. You’re an idiot boy. Please get out of my school, soon.”
So he goes to another professor who’s like more attractive or whatever, I don’t know, Victor is a very shallow dude. He shows him the books and he says “Professor Fuck from before said they were bad” and tall Handsome Professor says “Sure they might be bad, but–this isn’t science. But it was important for science,” and Victor says “Hey dope I wanna learn chemistry from you.” And he does.
For a very brief moment you think Victor’s gonna be normal and give up weird science stuff but no. No! Because then there wouldn’t be no book.
Victor says “I want to use science for–because–I think I can beat death and I’m nineteen years old and I’m arrogant as fuck.” So Victor spends a good handful of pages going to graveyards to collect body parts but also talking to his new friend on the boat.
In November, Victor brings a dead body to life. And it’s eight feet tall, and he has luscious black hair, and pearly white teeth. But. He has yellow eyes and like hideously stretched on skin. It’s unclear why the fuck Victor thought–like maybe he thought it was a bigger is better kinda thing. He was like “A five foot tall person is fine, but an eight foot tall person is great. No problems there.” And the book says it was all built to proportions but I don’t know what kind of head looks good on an eight foot tall body, so like. Yeah.
Anyway so he builds this body and he goes “Oh fuck what have I done? What I’ve made is bad.” So he does what any rational person would do: He runs upstairs and goes to bed. I can relate to that a lot. So then the Monster is standing over his bed reaching out to touch him and he freaks out again and runs away. He locks the monster in his bedroom and runs to a courtyard outside his apartment, and chills there for a while. I cannot imagine it was a good night.
So then he leaves and acts like there’s no problems for a while. He goes a couple weeks just chilling with Henry. He has nightmares about the Monster, he gets sick and Henry’s his nurse. I think he’s been in love with Henry the whole time. It’s not in the book. It’s just my own interpretation.
Henry gives him some letters from home, and Elizabeth is like “I miss you” and Victor goes “I thought fondly of her.” And there’s one from his dad where he says “Hey. Didn’t wanna tell you this. But your brother Ernest is dead.” So they go back to Geneva.
While he’s there, Victor sees a tall man running up a mountain, and he realizes the Monster killed his brother. And the maid Justine is put to death because they think she did it. And Victor says, “Sure everyone is sad but surely no one can feel worse than I.” And I’m like, it’s not super about you right now Victor.
Nasty then pulls a plant out of the ground, killing it, which he is very upset about.
“It’s only one plant,” Mary Shelley’s Lesbian Lover assures him.
“Wish we could bring it back to life,” Nasty Willow responds. “No no NO we don’t. Don’t bring things back to life. Spoilers! That’s a major theme of this book. Okay anyway.”
Nasty tries to start but stops again. “Sorry,” he says, “I just thought I saw all those flowers get up and move.”
So the Monster speaks but he speaks so eloquently. I wish I didn’t say that because I won’t speak as good. Guys, this is not a direct quotation of Frankenstein.
MONSTER: I’ve been very sad and angry recently. Did you accuse me of killing your brother?
MONSTER: Okay well I did. Here’s why. I’m very sad. People don’t like me.
VICTOR: I don’t wanna hear it.
MONSTER: Well you gotta hear it.
VICTOR: Well I guess I gotta.
The Monster tells a story about how he ran away and hid in the forest. He saw the moon and he said “That’s the most beautiful goddamn–I love the moon, Chris. When it comes to objects, I love the moon more than most of them.”
He sees a girl fall into a stream and he says “She’s a person. I’m a person. We have the same body parts.” So he saves her. But then she screams because he’s hideous, and the farmer shoots him. So he says, “I need to fuck off.” [I then dabbed for Frankenstein’s monster fucking off]
So the Monster tells Victor, “You know what I’ve learned through this? Besides learning to read and speak? That I will never fit into human company. I am a big hideous man.” He tried to make friends with DeLacey who, oh, by the way, is a blind man, because he thinks if he can speak well DeLacey will like him. He’s trying really hard to do that, but then Felix and Agatha come home and they scream and throw rocks at him.
The Monster grabs Victor and says “Dad!” He doesn’t say Dad. He kinda says Dad, but angry. The Monster is kind of a moody teen, but we all are. “Creator. Make for me a female of my kind.” I thought, Oh shit that’s rad, but Victor does not say “Oh shit that’s rad” he says “No you’re the worst thing I’ve ever done so no.”
“I will make you more unhappy than you can imagine.”
“I believe you okay.”
“Dope. See you around.” And the Monster parkours down a mountain.
“That was scary but cool. I’m gonna go home and get sick again.”
It is important to note here that for the following few paragraphs, Nasty Willow chose to summarize the book while doing push-ups.
So Victor decides not to do his promise and tears the lady monster body apart, and the Monster kills Henry and says “I will be with you on your wedding night.” And so then Victor goes to prison I think? It’s a little wacky. And his dad is like “I’ll get you out of prison.”
VICTOR: I deserve to be in prison.
VICTOR’S DAD: No you don’t. Come out of prison and go marry your cousin sister.
So he goes looking for the Monster, and when he comes back Elizabeth is dead. The Monster snuck in, he’s a very sneaky eight foot tall man, and killed her. And Victor says “Oh this is what he meant when he said he’d be with me on my wedding night.” Because up until then Victor had no idea what that was about.
Elizabeth is dead, the Monster says some beautiful things, and Victor starts to chase him. And they run all the way north and that’s how WE END UP ON THE BOAT.
So Victor dies on Walton’s boat, and Walton says “I’m so alone oh no.” But this is ironic because the Monster comes in and says “First of all I’m sad? This was the closest thing to family. God is dead. Prometheus specifically. That’s the subtitle. Not Prometheus Specifically. The Modern Prometheus is the subtitle. Hey Walton, you think you’re sad and lonely? Literally no one can love me. The only person who could maybe have loved me is dead now. I’m gonna go give myself the most metal goddamn death in the world, by sailing to the North Pole and setting myself on fire!” Then he jumps out of the boat, and Walton watches him run away and says, “What a crazy couple of days.”
- Don’t bring things back to life
- The cooperation of the supernatural and scientific (leading to the creation of science fiction)
- The moon
- Guys I thought that flag there was a white cat coming to attack us, but it’s okay. We’re okay.