“When I placed my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. . . . I saw — with shut eyes, but acute mental vision — I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous Creator of the world.”
— Mary Shelley, from her introduction to the third edition of Frankenstein.
Have a look at the site Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature for lots of information about the book and why it endures. The site is well set out and very accessible. For instance, here is part of the section on ‘Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus –
Mary Shelley subtitled her novel “The Modern Prometheus.” According to the Greeks, Prometheus stole fire from the gods. As punishment, he was chained to a rock, where an eagle each day plucked at his liver. Haughty Prometheus sought fire for human betterment — to make tools and warm hearts. Similarly, Mary Shelley’s arrogant scientist, Victor Frankenstein, claimed “benevolent intentions, and thirsted for the moment when I should put them in practice.”Frankenstein endures not only because of its infamous horrors but for the richness of the ideas it asks us to confront — human accountability, social alienation, and the nature of life itself. These passages illuminate some of them.