Anonymous review of Frankenstein from the Edinburgh Magazine


This anonymous review of Frankenstein seems to be governed by the author's religious faith and knowledge of contemporary fiction. They see the novel as a product of its time, reflecting the tumultuous political environment of revolution and war that affected the entire continent, and they relate this to a desire for the sensational in fiction; they note that this is seen in the form of Frankenstein as well as its content.

The author links the novel to St Leon by William Godwin, though the fact that they refer to the writer of Frankenstein as ‘he’ suggests that they did not know it was written by Godwin’s daughter, Mary Shelley. St Leon is described as the novel’s ‘prototype’ – it is ‘formed on the Godwinian manner’, though ‘bearing the marks of an unpractised hand’, yet later is described as ‘a singular performance’.

Their description of the use of certain motifs indicates that these are familiar ideas in the novels of the time – Walton’s ship is enclosed by ice ‘as usual’, and Frankenstein’s mother dies at the beginning of the book ‘very properly’. This slightly disparaging tone is seen also where Frankenstein is described as ‘raking out’ graves looking for ‘ingredients’ for the monster.

What does the author dislike about the novel?

The author reserves their greatest censure for the proposal that any man should take on the role of ‘creator’; the very idea is blasphemous. It leaves them in a ‘painful and bewildered’ state, to the extent that they do ‘not well see why it should have been written’. Though they elsewhere praise the writing in the work, it is this criticism that makes the novel, for them, unacceptable.

Full title:
Review of Frankenstein from the Edinburgh Magazine
March 1818, Edinburgh
Book / Journal
Edinburgh Magazine, anonymous
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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