Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsFixme

PAPERBACKS

August 28, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

FOUR GOTHIC NOVELS: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole; Vathek by William Beckford; The Monk by Matthew Lewis; Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Oxford University Press: $11.95; 606 pp.; paperback original) and FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, illustrations by Barry Moser (University of California Press: $15.; 254 pp.). Like Robinson Crusoe, Don Quixote and Alice, Frankenstein's monster has taken on a life that is independent of the original book. Shelley's tormented, vengeful creature is very different from the familiar, inarticulate movie monster with bolts in his neck. Obviously influenced by Lucifer in "Paradise Lost," this monster is a noble savage driven to evil by the mistreatment he has received from his maker and others. The Oxford collection of Gothic novels puts the story in context: Shelley's vision is no darker than the pseudo-Orientalism of "Vathek" or the vague Satanism of "The Monk." The latter also reveals the anti-Catholic prejudice that persisted in England: In his description of a Mass, Lewis comments, "in a city where superstition reigns with such despotic sway as Madrid, to seek for true devotion would be a fruitless attempt." Barry Moser's stark, black-and-white woodcuts make the UC Press reprint of the Pennyroyal edition a handsome gift for readers awaiting the Kenneth Branagh film.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|