1818年第一次出版的《弗兰肯斯坦》被公认为第一部近代科幻小说,书的全名是《弗兰肯斯坦——现代普罗米修斯的故事》(Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus)。它出自英国著名诗人雪莱之妻玛丽·雪莱之手,此书出版时她年仅21岁。《弗兰肯斯坦》讲述了一位名叫弗兰肯斯坦的科学家利用死人器官拼凑出一个怪物的故事,而怪物因得不到社会的理解和同情,最终走上了弑主愤世的毁灭道路。小说除了被翻译成多种语言外,还先后被话剧、音乐剧和电影等艺术形式演绎,其中1931年拍摄的黑白电影《弗兰肯斯坦》塑造了一个流传至今的怪物形象。
No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a 1)hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent creatures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs. Pursuing these reflections, I thought that if I could 2)bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in the process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption.
These thoughts supported my spirits, while I pursued my undertaking with 3)unremitting 4)ardour. My cheek had grown pale with study, and my person had become 5)emaciated with 6)confinement. Sometimes, on the very brink of certainty, I failed; yet still I clung to the hope which the next day or the next hour might realize.
It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might 7)infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain 8)pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a 9)convulsive motion 10)agitated its limbs.
How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how 11)delineate the 12)wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had 13)endeavoured to form?
His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a 14)lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these 15)luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the 16)dun-white sockets in which they were set, his 17)shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.
The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded 18)moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time 19)traversing my bed-chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep. At length 20)lassitude succeeded to the 21)tumult I had before endured, and I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to seek a few moments of forgetfulness. But it was in vain; I slept, indeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams.
I thought I saw 22)Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of 23)Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the 24)hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a25)shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel.
I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch—the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some 26)inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs.
I took refuge in the courtyard belonging to the house which I inhabited, where I remained during the rest of the night, walking up and down in the greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the 27)demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life.
Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that 28)countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch. I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived.