Frankenstein Front Matter
Many (most?) electronic and hardcopy editions of Frankenstein omit some or even all of the front matter that was intended, by Mary Shelley, to be a part of her text. To read her most famous novel without that material, then, is to not have the full literary experience she intended. Indeed, some people — and I'm at the front of the line, I think — would make the argument that this material has significant, perhaps even crucial, value for a full understanding both of the novel itself and its relation to Mary Shelley's life.
So, without further ado, here 'tis:
The title page to early editions of Frankenstein
carries the following brief passage from John Milton's Paradise Lost
(Book 10, lines 743-745):
Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould Me man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me? —
It should be noted (since many etexts and hard-copy texts leave this out) that the full
title of Mary Shelley's first and most famous novel is Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus
Prometheus, of course, is a figure from Greek myth; learn more here...
A crucial piece of information, in my opinion, is the dedication of this, Mary Shelley's first(born) novel:
author of Political Justice, Caleb Williams, etc
Are Respectfully Inscribed
The Importance of Being William: the novelist and political philosopher William Godwin was of course Mary Shelley's father; note also that Mary Shelley (she was actually still Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin at the time) named her first male child "William" — he was born January 24, 1816, about 5 months before Mary began writing Frankenstein — and "William" is the name of the first person murdered by Victor Frankenstein's creature.
The "Preface" to Frankenstein, actually written by Percy Bysshe Shelley, is also often omitted from e-versions of the novel, although not always; you may find it at the UVa Etext Center edition of Frankenstein, about 3/4 of the way down the page.
The "Introduction" to the novel, again often omitted from etexts and print versions, was written by Mary Shelley for the 1831 edition of her novel; Frankenstein was originally published in 1818, and was slightly edited by Mary Shelley for this 1831 version. The UVa Etext Center link in the preceding paragraph will take you to this "Introduction."
<< to LitGothic's Mary Shelley page