Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (First Edition, 1818)/Volume 1

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Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?——
Paradise Lost.




Printed by Macdonald and Son, Cloth Fair, London.





Are respectfully inscribed




The event on which this fiction is founded has been supposed, by Dr. Darwin, and some of the physiological writers of Germany, as not of impossible occurrence. I shall not be supposed as according the remotest degree of serious faith to such an imagination; yet, in assuming it as the basis of a work of fancy, I have not considered myself as merely weaving a series of supernatural terrors. The event on which the interest of the story depends is exempt from the disadvantages of a mere tale of spectres or enchantment. It was recommended by the novelty of the situations which it developes; and, however impossible as a physical fact, affords a point of view to the imagination for the delineating of human passions more comprehensive and commanding than any which the ordinary relations of existing events can yield.

I have thus endeavoured to preserve the truth of the elementary principles of human nature, while I have not scrupled to innovate upon their combinations. The Iliad, the tragic poetry of Greece,—Shakespeare, in the Tempest and Midsummer Night's Dream,—and most especially Milton, in Paradise Lost, conform to this rule; and the most humble novelist, who seeks to confer or receive amusement from his labours, may, without presumption, apply to prose fiction a licence, or rather a rule, from the adoption of which so many exquisite combinations of human feeling have resulted in the highest specimens of poetry.

The circumstances on which my story rests was suggested in casual conversation. It was commenced, partly as a source of amusement, and partly as an expedient for exercising any untried resources of mind. Other motives were mingled with these, as the work proceeded. I am by no means indifferent to the manner in which whatever moral tendencies exist in the sentiments or characters it contains shall affect the reader; yet my chief concern in this respect has been limited to the avoiding the enervating effects of the novels of the present day, and to the exhibition of the amiableness of domestic affection, and the excellence of universal virtue. The opinions which naturally spring from the character and situation of the hero are by no means to be conceived as existing always in my own conviction; nor is any inference justly to be drawn from the following pages as prejudicing any philosophical doctrine of whatever kind.

It is a subject also of additional interest to the author, that this story was begun in the majestic region where the scene is principally laid, and in society which cannot cease to be regretted. I passed the summer of 1816 in the environs of Geneva. The season was cold and rainy, and in the evenings we crowded around a blazing wood fire, and occasionally amused ourselves with some German stories of ghosts, which happenened to fall into our hands. These tales excited in us a playful desire of imitation. Two other friends (a tale from the pen of one of whom would be far more acceptable to the public than any thing I can ever hope to produce) and myself agreed to write each a story, founded on some supernatural occurrence.

The weather, however, suddenly became serene; and my two friends left me on a journey among the Alps, and lost, in the magnificent scenes which they present, all memory of their ghostly visions. The following tale is the only one which has been completed.






THE MAGUS or Celestial Intelligencer; a complete System of Occult Philosophy, being a Summary of all the best Writers on the subjects of Magic, Alchymy, Magnetism, the Cabala, &c. viz. Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, Van Helmont, Hermes Trismegistus, Lilly, Dee, &c. with an Account of their Lives, and a great variety of new matter, and rare and curious experiments. By Francis Barrett. With 23 very curious copper-plates, several of them in colours. 4to. 1l. 7s.

There was a time when a treatise written on this subject would have exposed even the person in whose possession it might have been found to the rack or the flames. But an age of good sense having succeeded that of credulity and ignorance, the publication of books on what is called Occult Philosophy can be injurious neither to the authors nor the readers; but, on the contrary, may afford great amusement to the inquisitive mind, without raising up any phantoms of terror before the imagination. In this point of view may be considered the elaborate system compiled by Mr. Barrett. It contains the secrets of most of the celebrated magicians, from Zoroaster to Cornelius Agrippa and Paracelsus. The work is extremely curious and entertaining; and should it fail of enabling men to perform all the wonders it professes to do, it will at least give them an idea of the pursuits of many ancient philosophers, and make them acquainted with all those supernatural mysteries, which, in different periods of the world, were objects of research, of reverence, of terror, and of persecution.

LIVES of ALCHEMYSTICAL PHILOSOPHERS, with a Critical Catalogue of Books on Occult Chemistry, and a Selection of the most celebrated Treatises on the Theory and Practice of the Hermetic Art. 8vo. 10s 6d.

"As far as we have been able to judge from a general survey, this Biography is executed with sufficient fidelity, and, though many of the lives are short, they are probably copious enough to satisfy the curiosity of the reader. It is not a little amusing to observe in what excessive terms of commendation the author speaks of the learning and acquirements of the Alchymists."—Vide Monthly Review.

APPARITIONS; or, the Mystery of Ghosts, Hobgoblins, and Haunted Houses, developed: being a Collection of Entertaining Stories founded on fact. By Joseph Taylor. 12mo. 5s.

A large impression of this popular work having been sold off within a very few months, it is now republished, with the addition of many curious and interesting stories. The opinions of the various critical Journalists have been highly commendatory of it.

"This Collection of Stories is well chosen, and offers a fund of amusement, cheap at the price of Five Shillings. By putting such a book as this into the hands of children, parents will more effectually guard their minds against weak credulity than by grave philosophic admonition."—Vide Monthly Review.

"Mr. Taylor's entertaining volume is entitled to the most favourable reception; his motive is good, and the plan which he has adopted is probably better fitted to answer the purpose intended than any other that could have been devised."—Crit. Review.

The LIFE, PROPHECIES, and PREDICTIONS of MERLIN INTERPRETED; being a Chronographical History of all the Kings and memorable Passages in the History of these Kingdoms, from Brute to the Reign of Charles I.; 8vo. With the rare and curious Frontispiece. 10s. 6d.

"Instead of a large study book, and huge voluminous tractate, able to take up a whole year in reading, and to load and tire a porter in carrying, thou hast here a small manual, containing all the pith and marrow, made portable for thee (if thou so please), to bear in thy pocket; so that thou mayest say, that in this small compendium thou hast Hollingshed, the Polychronicon, Fabian, Speed, or any of the rest of more gigantic bulk or binding."—Vide Heywood's Preface to this curious book.

TOLAND'S CRITICAL HISTORY of the CELTIC RELIGION and LEARNING; containing an account or the Druids, or Priests and Judges, of the Vaids, or the Diviners and Physicians, of the Bards, Poets, and Heralds, of the Ancient Gauls, Britons, Irish and Scots. 8vo. 8s.

This very curious work contains likewise the history of Abiris, the Hyperborean Priest of the Sun.

TALES OF THE DEAD. Principally translated from the French. 8vo. 9s.

This volume contains, among others, the following tales, Family Portraits, The Fated Hour, Death's Head, Death Bride, The Storm, &c.

Printed by Macdonald and Son, Cloth Fair, London.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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