Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

by Rick Price - Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

 Birth of Venus, book review by Paola Price, ExperiencePlus! cofounder



First published in 1818, the story of how Frankenstein came to be written is as interesting as the novel itself. Alpine Europe, primarily in France and Switzerland, first became the object of tourism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The British discovered it at this time and began frequenting places such as Chamonix, underneath Mont Blanc, on the French side of Europe’s grandest mountain.



In the rainy summer of 1816 in Switzerland, Lord Byron found himself neighbors in Percy Shelly and his young wife Mary. The young poets passed the rainy evenings reading ghost stories aloud together, an activity that inspired Byron to challenge his colleagues to write a ghost story themselves which they would share by reading aloud. The result is this classic of 19th century Gothic literature, which endures to this day.



Fascinated by the grandiosity of nature presented by the French and Swiss Alps, Mary Shelley sets her novel around Lake Geneva, the Chamonix valley, and on the slopes of Mont Blanc (in addition to the wilds of Scotland which were also familiar to her). The tragic story of Victor Frankenstein, young university student and scientist, unfolds here as he dabbles in creating life itself. Shelley’s description of Frankenstein, indeed, invokes images of the mountain itself: "gigantic in stature, yet uncouth and distorted in its proportions."



Shelley’s descriptions of the monster created by her protagonist range from compassionate sympathy to vindictive evil-doer just as her descriptions of Mont Blanc range from "supreme and magnificent" to those of raw aggressive nature.



Frankenstein will eventually appear on our Mont Blanc hiking tour reading list right along with Nicolas Crane’s Clear Waters Rising and Scrambles Amongst the Alps: In the Years 1860-69 by Edward Whymper. So if you’d like to get a headstart on preparing for your Mont Blanc trek, feel free to begin with Mary Shelley’s classic novel.



Happy reading!


Rick Price - Rick Price, and his wife, Paola Malpezzi Price, founded Bike Across Italy in 1972, Italian Specialty Tours, Inc. in 1985 and ExperiencePlus! Specialty Tours, Inc. in 1993, though they sold the latter over to their daughters Monica and Maria Elena in 2008. Rick holds a Ph.D. in Geography and has designed bike tours all over the world. Finally, in 2009 he realized a lifelong dream of becoming a certified “League Cycling Instructor,” with the League of American Bicyclists. He is now Safe Cycling Coordinator for the Bike Co-op in Fort Collins, Colorado where he also writes a monthly column on Smart Cycling for the Fort Collins, Coloradoan. If you would like to contact Rick or Paola you can e-mail them at Rick(a)