What was your process for gathering all the notes and annotations for this edition of Frankenstein?
I certainly owe a debt to those who have annotated Frankenstein previously. The key to annotating is to read the text really, really slowly, asking myself questions as I go along—what does this word mean, who is this person, what historical event are the characters talking about? Then I go back and try to address those questions. Looking at the work of other (previous) annotators helps me decide what questions I want to ask myself.
What is your favourite adaptation of Frankenstein on stage or screen as in the appendix of your book?
Why do you think Frankenstein has resonated with horror fans for so many years?
The central question posed by Victor—what makes inanimate things animate—still puzzles us. More importantly, every parent has created a “creature” that has the potential to be good or bad. Reading about Victor’s failure is a great lesson. The true horror is the rejection of the creature by society and the blindness of Victor to his responsibility for the creature.
How much of Mary Shelley’s life is weaved into Frankenstein?
Far more than the average reader understands. Not only was Mary fascinated by the question of “what is life”—she’d already lost a baby when she wrote it—she had serious issues with her father’s brand of parenting. (Remember that her mother died in childbirth.) I think she also thought that society had a duty to individuals, a duty sorely breached in the case of the responses to the creature based solely on his appearance.
You also edited ‘The New Annotated Dracula’ in 2009 – without trying to cause any controversy – which do you prefer, Dracula or Frankenstein?
Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and the monster are the three most important literary figures of the 19th century. Each reflects a different deep-rooted fear troubling its era, and each is equally important. I certainly can’t choose between my “children,” but I will say that I read Dracula first!
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