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Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature

Surrounded by Ice

An ice covered land mass looms over a sailing ship. Untitled, 1827. Artist unknown. Photographic reproduction of an engraving from 'Northern Exposure', 1827. Courtesy of Picture Collection, The Branch Libraries, The New York Public Library.
Untitled, 1827. Artist unknown. Photographic reproduction of an engraving from 'Northern Exposure', 1827. Courtesy of Picture Collection, The Branch Libraries, The New York Public Library.

A sledge . . . had drifted towards us in the night, on a large fragment of ice. Only one dog remained alive; but there was a human being within it. . . . His limbs were nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering. I never saw a man in so wretched a condition.

Robert Walton to his sister Mrs. Saville
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheuse, 1818

Frankenstein opens with a series of letters written by Arctic explorer Robert Walton, engaged in a personal quest to expand the boundaries of the known world. It is Walton who first encounters Victor Frankenstein in the Arctic desperately searching for the monster he has created. The explorer becomes the only person to hear Victor Frankenstein's strange and tragic tale.