Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus (Paperback)
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Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by the English author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley that tells the story of a young science student Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition of the novel was published anonymously in London in 1818, when she was 20. Shelley's name first appeared on the second edition, published in France in 1823. Shelley travelled through Europe in 1814, journeying along the River Rhine in Germany with a stop in Gernsheim which is just 17 km (10 mi) away from Frankenstein Castle, where, two centuries before, an alchemist was engaged in experiments. Later, she travelled in the region of Geneva (Switzerland)-where much of the story takes place-and the topic of galvanism and other similar occult ideas were themes of conversation among her companions, particularly her lover and future husband, Percy Shelley. Mary, Percy, Lord Byron and John Polidori decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for days, Shelley dreamt about a scientist who created life and was horrified by what he had made; her dream later evolved into the novel's story. Frankenstein is infused with elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement, and is also considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction. Brian Aldiss has argued that it should be considered the first true science fiction story because, in contrast to previous stories with fantastical elements resembling those of later science fiction, the central character "makes a deliberate decision" and "turns to modern experiments in the laboratory" to achieve fantastic results. It has had a considerable influence in literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories, films and plays. Since the novel's publication, the name "Frankenstein" has often been used to refer to the monster itself, as it is in the stage adaptation by Peggy Webling. This usage is sometimes considered erroneous, but usage commentators regard it as well-established and acceptable. In the novel, the monster is identified by words such as "creature," "monster," "demon," and "it." Speaking to Victor Frankenstein, the monster refers to himself as "the Adam of your labours," and elsewhere as someone who "would have" been "your Adam," but is instead "your fallen angel.
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Romanticism (also the Romantic era or the Romantic period) was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, the latter also being celebrated. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, and while for much of the Romantic period it was associated with liberalism and radicalism, its long-term effect on the growth of nationalism was perhaps more significant. The movement emphasized intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe-especially that experienced in confronting the new aesthetic categories of the sublimity and beauty of nature. It considered folk art and ancient custom to be noble statuses, but also valued spontaneity, as in the musical impromptu. In contrast to the rational and Classicist ideal models, Romanticism revived medievalism and elements of art and narrative perceived as authentically medieval in an attempt to escape population growth, early urban sprawl, and industrialism. Although the movement was rooted in the German Sturm und Drang movement, which preferred intuition and emotion to the rationalism of the Enlightenment, the events and ideologies of the French Revolution were also proximate factors. Romanticism assigned a high value to the achievements of "heroic" individualists and artists, whose examples, it maintained, would raise the quality of society. It also promoted the individual imagination as a critical authority allowed of freedom from classical notions of form in art. There was a strong recourse to historical and natural inevitability, a Zeitgeist, in the representation of its ideas. In the second half of the 19th century, Realism was offered as a polar opposite to Romanticism. The decline of Romanticism during this time was associated with multiple processes, including social and political changes and the spread of nationalism.