March 8, 2018

“Flakensteins” understand Shelley’s classic… but does the Sun?


Boris Karloff, did you even read the book?

British tabloid the Sun has spun a piece about students’ reactions to Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein into an example of “thin-skinned, liberal foot-stomping,” to use Sian Cain’s phrase in the Guardian.

The original Times piece basically suggests that a nuanced reading of Shelley’s monster—What does it mean to be human? How do we understand intelligence and sentience?—is a recent phenomenon. “It seems,” Chris Smyth writes, “that a new generation of readers are discovering [the monster’s] sensitive side.” Professor Nick Groom has a book on the subject coming out next month and says, “It’s interesting when I teach the book now, students are very sentimental towards the being… There’s been a gradual shift.”

This claim seems… dubious… but either way, the Sun really ran with it. Their piece was headlined, “FLAKENSTEINS: Snowflake students claim Frankenstein’s monster was ‘misunderstood’ — and is in fact a VICTIM.” (Sic Trumpian all-caps.)

“Just as Shelley’s novel was a meditation on humanity dressed up as a horror story, the Sun piece is purely ideological prejudice dressed up as cultural phenomenon,” David Barnett writes for the Guardian. “It’s about poking fun at millennials, at the brittle snowflake generation who are the beloved target of the balls-out, men’s men of the right.”

Twitter, as Twitter is wont to do, responded swiftly. (Tweets pulled from the BBC)



Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.