Frankenstein, retold by Jeremy Taylor

Frankenstein coverExcerpt from Frankenstein

From that day on, natural philosophy, and in particular, chemistry, became my subject of study. I read all the books recommended by M. Waldman, books full of genius. I attended the lectures and got to know the men of science at the university. I even found that I could learn from M. Krempe. I didn’t like his appearance or his manners but he talked a lot of sense and had real information. In M. Waldman, I found a true friend. He was always there to answer my questions which he did with kindness and understanding.

   There were many times when I worked through the night in my laboratory. My passion surprised my fellow students, and my abilities surprised my masters. Professor Krempe often asked me, with a smile on his face, how Cornelius Agrippa was getting on. M. Waldman, on the other hand, was enthusiastic about my progress. Two years went by, during which I did not visitGeneva. My time and energy were devoted to discoveries which I hoped to make. In scientific studies there is always something new to discover. After two years of study, I made some discoveries in the improvement of chemical instruments. I gained the respect of those at the university and it became clear to me that I had little more to learn from the professors atIngolstadt. I was planning to return to my friends inGenevawhen something happened which made my stay longer.

   I was very interested in the human body, in fact any animal that was living. I often asked myself the question, where does life come from? It is an important question and no one has ever answered it. I decided to devote my efforts to the study of physiology. To study the causes of life, we also need to study death. I had no supernatural horrors. A churchyard was just a place where there were bodies with no more life and were now worm food. Now I wanted to study how bodies decay. I spent many days and nights in mortuaries. I studied the change from life to death and from death to life. Then suddenly, one day, it came to me – an idea so simple yet so incredible. After days and nights working harder than I have ever worked before, I discovered the cause of life and more, I could give life to lifeless matter.

   It was an incredible surprise for me. But I was very happy to have reached such a goal after so much hard work. I am sure you would like to know the secret that I discovered, but that is not possible. Listen to the end of my story and I am sure you will understand my decision. I do not want to lead you to your own destruction and misery. Learn from me, how dangerous knowledge can be. Understand how much happier a man is who believes his town to be the world, than a man who wants to be greater than his nature will allow.

   When I found that I had this power, I thought for a long time how I should use it. I knew it would be extraordinarily difficult to build a body with all its fibres, muscles and veins. Perhaps I should try my hand at a less complex animal. But no, my first successes made me believe in my own powers. I was sure that there would be problems, but each day I spent working, I knew I was moving closer to future success.

   I began to create a human being, not small, as I first thought, but a giant, almost two and a half metres tall. After several months collecting and arranging my materials, I began.

   It is hard to describe my feelings at that time. I was about to create a new species. One which would thank me as its creator. Much more than a father, my creation would be full of gratitude. These thoughts supported me as I worked ever harder. My cheeks were pale, and my body had grown thin. Each time I thought I would succeed, I failed, yet still, I knew I would succeed, perhaps in one hour or one day. I was the only person who possessed the secret. 

The story of Frankenstein is pretty well known by most people but it was a joy to work with the original by Mary Shelley. Shelley started the book when she was 18 and it was published when she was just 21. I have tried to retain as much of Shelley’s delightful prose yet making the story accessible to readers whose English may not be brilliant. The book was finally published as a bilingual edition by Garamond in the Czech Republic.