Cafe Parlez for October – Frankenstein

Tonight’s book is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the Cafe Parlez version of “trick or treat”: the cookie exchange.  Folks are gathering and bringing in their cookies.  So far, there are snickers cookies, pumpkin cookies, chocolate chip, Halloween sugar cookies, “yummy snacks” (pretzel sticks covered with chocolate), frosted pumpkin cookies, peanut butter cookies, and more coming.  We’ve had a donation of Halloween decorations to do with Frankenstein, like  Frankenstein plates, cups, a nifty keychain, and other stuff.  Thanks!

J is doing housekeeping items.  Get your votes in NOW!  We will have the list for 2008 for next month’s meeting.  Also, this month is the anniversary of Cafe Parlez. 

Comparing it with the movie, there is nothing of the novel in the movie except the title and the main character.  People had problems reading this book.  Where was the monster?  In the Arctic?  Why weren’t the sled dogs afraid of him?  And what’s up with the narrator?  Another point brought up: Mary Shelley is the daughter of a noted feminist, and there are no strong female characters in the book. 

M thinks Frankenstein is a jerk.  He goes on and on feeling bad while the monster runs rampant.  Frankenstein is always sick, fainting, with a fever.  Why did the monster kill the kid and not Victor?  Because it’s the way to get to someone, to harm what and who they love.  Victor is very self-centered.  When the monster threatens to see him on his wedding night, Victor thinks he is referring to himself, not Elizabeth. 

And why did Victor not see what he was doing when he was creating the monster?  The monster comes to life and suddenly he’s surprised and horrified.  And how did he make the “companion”? 

J wants to believe that Victor was hallucinating the whole thing, that none of it happened.  Drug-induced.   She is showing the Penguin edition of Frankenstein that contains a couple of the other stories that were part of the contest that Mary Shelley participated in to write Frankenstein.  Did Shelley have a part in the editing?  There were various editions and revisions by Shelley, so there were at least two versions of it.

Who is the actual monster in Frankenstein?  ML doesn’t like him and would smack him if he was here.  Before Victor created the monster, he was normal, but had too much ego.  When his professors laughed at him, he wanted revenge and to prove that they were wrong.  “I’ll show them!”  Never a good thing.  He was naive and didn’t expect the result.  Did he learn from this?  No, because he started to make a second one. 

What is with all of the coincidences surrounding the death of Victor’s friend?   

The monster in the movie is more of a figure for pity than the monster in the book.  Is the monster in the book more responsible for his actions?  His is more civilized,  and with civilization comes responsibility.  He wasn’t responsible for his existence, but he is responsible for his actions.

What is the purpose of having Robert Walton tell Victor’s story?  Are they both the same guys, ambitious to the point of danger?  J says he is Shackelton.  He’s not nearly as crazy as Victor. 

What qualities make us human?  Empathy, feelings. 

What makes the novel a classic?  What makes any novel a classic?  Maybe because it was the first of its kind, written by a woman and a 19-year-old.  And maybe it’s the influence of the movies that were made from these books.  They are part of our culture. 

There has been a discussion on the graphic novel version, and about graphic novels in general. 

Next month’s book is “Until I Have No Country”, a novel about King Philip’s War, and the date is November 29, the week after Thanksgiving.  There are not so many copies, so please share!


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