Winterson, Jeanette. “Frankissstein”, Grove Press, 2019.
A New Kind of Love Story
Where would I be without the wonderful literary stories of Jeanette Winterson? Her inventiveness and gorgeous prose has always been there for me and I so appreciate the contributions she has made to the canon. In “Frankissstein”, we are taken back to Lake Geneva in 1816 and meet nineteen-year-old Mary Shelley who is inspired to write a story about a scientist who creates a new life-form. We then move forward to Brexit Britain where Ry, a young transgender doctor is falling in love with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor who leads the public debate around Artificial Intelligence and who has been carrying out experiments of his own in an underground network of tunnels. At the same time, Ron Lord who is freshly divorced and living with his mom, is primed to make his fortune launching a new generation of sex dolls for men who are lonely. Across the Atlantic Ocean, a cryogenics facility is housing dozens of bodies of men and women who are medically and legally dead … but waiting to return to life.
Have you ever wondered what will happen when humankind ceases being the smartest beings on the planet? Winterson shows us that we are much closer a future of that kind than we realize. In this reimagining and reanimated “Frankenstein”, we have a “cautionary tale for a contemporary moment dominated by debates about Brexit, gender, artificial intelligence and medical experimentation” and it is filled with new ideas.
This is a book that attempts to shift our perspective on humanity and the purpose of being human in a very dark and entertaining way. By relooking at Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, Winterson takes us into a story about modern-day neuroses and issues. We see the fine line between horror and high camp. It takes a brave person to dare to change the classics and succeed and this is what Jeanette Winterson has done. She looks and laughs at the nature and the future of life, death and what it means to be human. She “examines immortality and science’s ethical obligations through the alternating narratives of two people living centuries apart: author Mary Shelley and Ry, a transgender medical doctor interested in cryogenics.” Her characters wrestle with many profound questions of what it means to be alive, if the brain could survive outside of its mortal body, and if the soul can be reborn in a reanimated mind. The story is wildly funny and profoundly sad. Another question asked here is whether we are our bodies or our minds, neither or both? Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein rises into a post-Internet world and his idea of creating life from death is much closer than before.