What I learned about college from Frankenstein

It is so interesting to re-read classic literature after decades.

M. M. De Voe

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Photo by Bruno Guerrero on Unsplash

I’ve just cracked the spine of Frankenstein — I’ve got a kind of classics book club going with my 17 yr old — and besides an immediate and lengthy debate about the introductory character, a 28 yr old ship captain, lamenting to his sister that he lacks friends (be on the lookout for some subsequent Medium post called: “since Frankenstein’s day, we still haven’t solved the problem of straight male friendship; maybe if we did we’d have fewer monsters”), we got into a deep discussion of what college was like back then, based on descriptions in the narrator’s opening chapters.

To attend college in the 1700s meant your family (or some nice old patron without heirs) paid for you to not-work for as many years as studies held your interest. The choice of college was more about proximity than anything else (to extended family or to the close friend of a parental unit — somewhere you could turn up at your Christmas breaks so you didn’t clutter up the family estate with your books). You picked, you paid, and you showed up. (Or, as indicated in other classics, you didn’t pay first but just showed up in the lecture halls and eventually someone would foot the bill or you’d run off to Paris, a scoundrel.)

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M. M. De Voe

Fictionista, collector of obscure awards, admirer of optimists in the face of dread. Author of 2 books that are polar opposites and yet the same. mmdevoe.com