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IN BRIEF

June 21, 1992|CHRIS GOODRICH

THE BODY OF FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER: Essays in Myth and Medicine by Cecil Helman (W.W. Norton: $19.95; 208 pp.). Cecil Helman, a South African doctor, anthropologist, and folklorist, has conceived this book as an exploration of the metaphors and myths through which cultures attempt to illuminate the mysteries of the human body. It's an intriguing idea, but Helman falls short in the execution: There's too much myth--and well-known myth, at that--and too little medicine to give "The Body of Frankenstein's Monster" more than passing interest. Helman links premenstrual-tension syndrome, which has been cited as causing women to act like "animals," to the werewolf myth, but the connection is more than a little strained; his essay on Frankenstein's pieced-together monster tells us nothing new.

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