NEW SERVICE: Introducing AE Studio and the only services you will ever require to create, maintain, and convert professional websites.

Frankenstein came into being two centuries ago

In June of 1816, Mary Wollstonecraft and her partner Percy Shelley stayed in a Swiss castle with Lord Byron. Mary Wollstonecraft’s step-sister Claire Clairmont, carrying Lord Byron’s child, was also in attendance, as was Lord Byron’s friend Dr. John Polidori. The weather being unseasonably inclement, they rode out the rain indoors with long conversations on the principle of life and with writing prompts, including one for writing a ghost story.

Gothicism’s twisted roots stretch back to those nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples called the Visigoths, whose sacking of Rome made their name synonymous with terror. Proto-Romantic paintings of Salvator Rosa in the 17th-Century followed a hundred years later by the atmospheric “prisons” etched by Giovanni Piranesi contributing to the gothic soil on which the 18 year-old Wollstonecraft and her vacationing companions trod.

Then as now two schools of gothic thought held sway: That of Anne Radcliffe and that of Matthew Lewis. In the Anne Radcliffe mold, the fears turn out to be ungrounded. This is the Scooby-Doo school, where what seems to be supernatural is actually perfectly explainable. Conversely, in the Matthew Lewis mold, the supernatural really is real, and the Devil literally shows up.

Mary Wollstonecraft and United Kingdom’s two most famous poets appreciated the atmospheric qualities in Anne Radcliffe’s work, but they liked that Matthew Lewis played for keeps. So much so, they had him over for dinner.

On the night of June 15, 1816 Mary Wollstonecraft had a powerful dream of a man animated by an engine and his horrified creator watching. The next day, she started writing. And she kept at it, eventually calling her finished work Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus. She and Percy Shelley married not long thereafter.

A fragment of a story by Byron influenced John William Polidori sufficiently to produce a story of his own, The Vampyre. Riding on Byron’s coattails, Polidori’s story was wrongly said to be written by Byron himself. By 1818, Mary Shelley saw her literary progeny published. Later that year, Polidori’s story followed suit.

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus first edition was published anonymously in London, United kingdom in 1818

Decades later Varney the Vampire appeared in the cheapest print, and decades after that, Sheridan Le Fanu wrote the excellent vampire story “Carmilla.” But it was not until Abraham “Bram” Stoker wrote Dracula that we finally saw the fulfillment of the Swiss castle ghost story efforts.

As films in 1931, Dracula preceded Frankenstein by a few months. Thomas Edison gave us film’s first version of the creature in 1910, and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s Nosferatu presented Dracula with names changed, yet, for better or worse, the 1931 Universal Studios productions with Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster hold the most iconic images.

The Frankenstein story continues to proliferate. Jurassic Park is a Frankenstein story, and so is nuclear technology. Stephen Hawking presents a Frankenstein story when he warns us of the dangers of artificial life.

Those interested in the Summer of 1816 might like Gothic (1986), wherein Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron conducts a sort of séance which unleashes cheesy special effects upon Mary Wollstonecraft, Percy Shelley, and pals. Also, Frankenstein Unbound (1990), based on the novel by Brian Aldiss, shows how malleable a monster Mary Shelley unleashed.

Related
Articles
Blogging
Opinions
Debates
Discussion
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Discussions
View all discussions

Opinions

digest of the most read and current commentary pieces

Starting a Band: The Four Cities You Should Visit for Inspiration

Starting a Band: The Four Cities You Should Visit for Inspiration

Black Metal takes Norway’s Everyday Racisms to the Extreme

Black Metal takes Norway’s Everyday Racisms to the Extreme

The Strange Connection Between Politics and Extreme Metal

The Strange Connection Between Politics and Extreme Metal

Damsels and Demons: Transgressive Females from Clarissa to Carmilla

Damsels and Demons: Transgressive Females from Clarissa to Carmilla

Events

& Venues

Festival Rock al Parque Endurance for Cultural Diversity

Festival Rock al Parque Endurance for Cultural Diversity

John Martin and the Promethean Theatre of Subversion

John Martin and the Promethean Theatre of Subversion

Tattoo artist

The Moscow Tattoo Convention returns June, in Russia

‘Vampyr, Der Traum des Allan Grey’ Review

‘Vampyr, Der Traum des Allan Grey’ Review

‘Between Two Worlds’ (‘Der Müde Tod’) Review

‘Between Two Worlds’ (‘Der Müde Tod’) Review

‘Witchcraft Through the Ages’ (‘Häxan’) Review

‘Witchcraft Through the Ages’ (‘Häxan’) Review

Reviews

& Critics

Impact

& Visual

Medicine, Martyrs, and the Photographic Image 1860–1910

Medicine, Martyrs, and the Photographic Image 1860–1910

Distinguishing Early Nineteenth-Century Modes of Cameras

Distinguishing Early Nineteenth-Century Modes of Cameras

A Scanty Post-Mortem History Of Spirit Photography

A Scanty Post-Mortem History Of Spirit Photography

Updated

& Recent

The Scottish Crown, the Protestant Church, and Witch Trials

The Scottish Crown, the Protestant Church, and Witch Trials

Lesbianism and the Vampire in “Christabel”and Carmilla

Lesbianism and the Vampire in “Christabel”and Carmilla

The Enduring Sexual Appeal of Vampires

The Enduring Sexual Appeal of Vampires

Introduction to the Monstrous Women of Dracula and Carmilla

Introduction to the Monstrous Women of Dracula and Carmilla

Blogs

Voices

Delighted with Horror: Reconfigurations of the Everyday

Delighted with Horror: Reconfigurations of the Everyday

Awe-inspiring festivals that revere the gothic subculture

Awe-inspiring festivals that revere the gothic subculture

Festival Rock al Parque Endurance for Cultural Diversity

The cultural divulges injected in the world’s music

Looking to convert having performance in mind?

Either theme or builder, we have got you covered!

01. Special
Edition
Bloody Serial Killers of History’s Worst Murder Sprees

Bloody Serial Killers of History’s Worst Murder Sprees

This article discusses how serial killers do not resemble those we see in cinema or literary works. In truth, the percentage of female serial killers has been...

The Vile Atrocities of Blood Countess Erzsébet Báthory

The Vile Atrocities of Blood Countess Erzsébet Báthory

Countess Erzsébet Báthory continues to draw the interest of historians, critics, artists, and in the process, one could argue, the victimising of...

‘Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural’

‘Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural’

‘Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural’ is an attempt to explain, as accurately and in the simplest terms as one can...

Share to...