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Frankenstein, a tale of scientific hubris? Only if you’re asking Hollywood

The suggestion that Mary Shelley sought primarily to warn of the perils of scientific meddling is insulting to a complex and ambiguous text

By Philip Ball  

An advert for the film Frankenstein (1931)

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, published 200 years ago, has become the exemplar of art-science crossover work. In light of the anniversary, the pages of literary supplements are full of praise for, and marvel at, the enduring power of this book written by a woman still in her teens, an accomplishment done ample justice by Fiona Sampson’s new biography In Search of Mary Shelley.

But the science press is having a field day too. Science magazine has published a special issue exploring the book’s legacy for science and…

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