Not so long ago, relative to the world at large, in picturesque Geneva not so far from Lake
Leman, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley took part in a not so commonplace "contest". The contest
was to write a ghost story. The outcome was Frankenstein; what is considered today to be a
classic, one of the first science fiction tales, and a story immortalized many times over in film.
And what at its inception was considered little more than the disturbed and ill conceived writings
of a woman by some, and a noble if misplaced effort by others. Critical readings of the novel have
grown over time to encompass more aspects of the critical range and to allow for a broader
reading and understanding of the work which accounts for more than merely face value formal,
rhetorical, mimetic or expressive theories alone.
In March of 1818, the same year Frankenstein was published, The Belle Assemblee
magazine reviewed Frankenstein.
In its opening paragraph states "..that the presumptive works of
man must be frightful, vile, and horrible; ending only in discomfort and misery to himself. But will
all our readers understand this?". Clearly this reviewer is, in some part, taking into account
rhetorical theories. The analysis given is in the interests of the reader, so that they might better be
able to appreciate the work. As well, credit is given to formal aspects of the work, the
"excellence of its style and language" as well as "its originality, excellence of language, and
Though this review was brief, and did little more than summarize the book for interested
readers of the time, it did what many others did not, in that it focused on Frankenstein as an
original work that offered something new to readers of the time. Further reviews, from sources