Thursday, February 18, 2010


Monster-of-the-Week: This week’s horrific honoree is more potty-mouthed than usual: The Monster in Fucking Frankenstein. You read it right, Fucking Frankenstein, a novel by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley & “Mr. Matt Allen.” The latter scribe’s contribution consisted of adding the word “fucking,” or “fuck,” to the text of the iconic 1818 classic, more than a thousand times.

This is a real (albeit self-published) book. No kidding.

A sample:

Oh fuck! No fucking mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A fucking mummy again imbued with animation could not be so hideous as this wretch. I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then; but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of fucking motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have fucking conceived.

I passed the fucking night wretchedly…

I didn’t want trees to die so that I could have a copy of Fucking Frankenstein, so I bought the Kindle edition. Irritating as I find this ridiculous stunt, having given it a read I must nonetheless acknowledge that it does demonstrate the enduring power both of the original Frankenstein, & also of the word “fuck.”

Implied in the choice of this particular novel for this treatment—as opposed to, say, Wuthering Fucking Heights—is the idea of revivification, of shocking life back into something dead. But Shelley’s Frankenstein most certainly does not need to be resuscitated. Despite the datedness of her gothic style & dilatory pace, despite the labored clumsiness of some of her plotting, Shelley’s prose hums with terrible & pitiless life. It certainly didn’t need everyone’s favorite scurrility to “help” it.

Yet somehow the word, in all its life-avowing intensity, seems very comfortable therein. It’s sort of like adding jalapenos to Havarti cheese: they aren’t needed, but they do add a certain zing.

It really is a wonderful word, when you think about it. The repetition of it here made me remember something that I once read attributed, I think, to Robert Graves—that in the British army, the word “fuck” was so ubiquitous that it had no meaning; it merely signaled the approach of a noun.

But…& I can’t believe I read the fucking thing closely enough to say this, but…I don’t think Allen did his job as well as he could have. Not to sound like an actor, but at times I felt like I could have done it better. I think I could have found more apt places to insert “fucking” into Frankenstein, & also simply more places. At times Allen seems like he’s being stingy—having set myself this absurd task, I would have been more generous with the fucking.

By the way, I pitched the idea of reviewing this book (using asterisks or brackets or something) to an editor at a daily for whom I’ve done many book columns. Normally an up-for-anything type of guy, he answered me thusly: “I gotta tell ya, Mark…No fucking way.”

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