Frankenstein is a masterpiece of nineteenth-century Gothicism and the prototype of the twentieth-century science-fiction novel. It was conceived in the Swiss Alps in mid-June 1816 after a conversation about bringing corpses to life provoked a nightmare, and was written over the next eleven months in largely morbid circumstances. Death and the terrors of childbirth--as much as Romanticism, a burgeoning awareness of unconscious drives, and contemporary ideas of atheism, the collapse of the social contract, and the corrupting influence of society on human nature--inform this story of a man (or monster) built by Dr. Victor Frankenstein and brought to life by electricity. The monster's culpability for various horrific acts, his powerlessness in the face of his complete ostracism from society, and Dr. Frankenstein's lies, abdication of responsibility, and the pain he inflicts on his creation raised chilling questions that made the novel an immediate bestseller.
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