I love Frankenstein

I love Frankenstein. I first read it during my junior year of high school, though I can’t remember much from that first reading other than the fact that I liked it. It was dark and subversive.

Last month I read “On Writing Horror,” a compilation from the Horror Writer’s Association about, duh, writing horror. There is a chapter in the book that discusses the must reads in horror. Of course, Frankenstein is first on the list. Because I agreed that a good author thoroughly knows and understands the genre he is writing in, I decided to go and re-read it. I’m about half-way through.

What hits me this time around is how well Mary Shelly captures the worst of human feelings: sorrow; regret; guilt; and I think, depression.

Here’s a passage:

“Nothing is more painful to the human mind than, after the feelings have been worked up by a quick succession of events, the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which follows and deprives the soul of both hope and fear.”

I’ve had clinical depression my whole life, but I’ve had one serious and dangerous bout of deep, utterly debilitating depression. It came a month after I graduated college. I worked full-time while going to school, often taking more credits and working more hours than any human should. To me at the time, the worst thing was to have nothing to preoccupy my mind. All I had were my thoughts and those weren’t always good company. Reading this passage sent me back to those times.

The great thing about good horror such as Frankenstein is that it reflects on what’s awful. Sometimes, as Viktor Frankenstein explains, the most awful things are inside our own heads.

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