by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein starts out in a format that I usually don't like much, that of reading letters that give information, but it is done with strangely beautiful writing and I do think I would have read the whole book in this format if it had been written that way. However, this only forms a sort of lengthy prologue to the story proper and changes to standard prose chapters in Chapter One.
What strikes me is the quality of the writing. There is something about books written in this era that allows first person exposition to be carried by the poetic phrasing of another age. The main character's enthusiasm is tangible and although we may not understand exactly what he has in mind at first, his desire to accomplish something really special translates well and grips us within his developing thoughts.
I soon learned that the old black and white movie that I grew up with has little to do with the book. Rather than the grunting hulk that we see in the classic film, the monster is while very large and deformed, very eloquent in speech and of high intelligence. Though he can kill accidentally as happened in the film, most of his deeds are done consciously with malice, due to what he refers to as " Misery in deformity." He is a cold blooded killer rather than the confused being depicted in the film.
The writing is exceptional. Frankenstein's passion of words conveys a rapturous emotional state when he is sure he has discovered the secret to life and gathers what he will need to conduct his experiments, to create life. Unlike the film, we learn about Frankenstein's family, who play significant roles in his story. At times the creature seems to have a generous and sensitive nature and is highly intelligent. He speaks poetically and the reader could almost sympathise with him, especially when Frankenstein behaves amazingly stupidly toward the end.
Much of the horror is conveyed through the protagonist's emotional reactions. The story actually drags out towards the ending, but it was an amazing read and has much to say about the nature of man and how he can be affected by kindness or cruelty. I can see why it became a classic.