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For nearly two hundred years, the story of Frankenstein - the book, the monster, and the scientist - has gripped our imaginations and haunted our nightmares. Though author Mary Shelley was only 20 years old when Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was first published in 1818, her novel posed profound questions about individual and societal responsibility for other human beings. To make her point, she used the scientific advances of her era and the controversy surrounding them as a metaphor for issues of unchecked power and self-serving ambition, and their effect on the human community.
The project committee selected Frankenstein for the 2005 area reading project to tie in with a national traveling exhibition coming to the Duluth Public Library this spring. The exhibit explores the woman and the world that gave birth to Frankenstein. It examines how playwrights and filmmakers have transformed the Frankenstein story into one of the Western world's most enduring myths. Finally, it considers how Mary Shelley's unfortunate monster provides a framework for discussions of contemporary biomedical advances, such as cloning, which challenge our traditional understanding of what it means to be human.
This Resource Guide is presented as an aid to your own discussions with friends, family and co-workers about Frankenstein. We hope you will find the information useful as you read the book and visit the exhibit. Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature can be seen in the Main Library's Green Room April 27 to June 10, 2005.
The Duluth Library Foundation is honored to financially sponsor the fourth annual area wide reading project. We join the Duluth Public Library in promoting reading, writing and discussing literature, and in bringing area communities together by focusing on one book.
Charles E. House, President