Created by Mary Shelley, at the age of 21, the story was first published in 1818. The most famous film version of the character was played by Boris Karloff in 1931. I wondered what would cause a young English "rose" to write such a terrifying tale so I researched author Mary Shelly and found a few interesting facts.
Shelley, at the tender age of 17, traveled throughout Europe. She journeyed down the River Rhine, in Germany, and made a stop in Gernsheim which was only 10 miles (17 kilometers) away from the Frankenstein Castle. In 1673 Johann Conrad Dippel was born in this casrle and later worked as an alchemist there. It is interesting to note, here, that Dippel created an animal oil (Dippel's Oil) which was supposed to be "the elixir of life." Too, it is alleged that in addition to alchemy, Dippel also studdied anatomy, performing experiements on dead bodies. Although there is nothing to confirm this, it is believed that Mary Shelley may have been influenced by Dippel, and his science projects, when she wrote the Gothic novel, Frankenstein.
Later, Ms. Shelley travel to Geneva, Switzerland where much of the Frankenstein story takes place. During this time, there were many conversations with her peers regarding the topic of galvanism...the contraction of a muscle that is stimulated by electrical current. Percy Shelley, poet and Mary's future husband, found this topic of great interest. Mary, Percy, Lord Byron and John Polidori had a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After several days of trying to come up with ideas for her story, Mary had a dream about an scientist who created life and was horrified by what he had made. her dream later evolved into the story of Frankenstein.
Brian Aldiss, famous writer of sci-fi novels and short stories, has argued that Frankenstein could be considered " the first true science fiction story because, in contrast to previous stories with fantastical elements resembling those of later science fiction, the central character 'makes a deliberate decision and turns to modern experiments in his labratory' to achieve fantastic results." (Mary Shelley on Wikipedia)
Frankenstein has had an incredible influence on literature and popular culture. it has spawned a complete genre of horror stories, films, and plays.
Since the novel was first published, the monster is referred to as Frankenstein, but some consider this to be erroneous since the monster's creator was Dr. Frankenstein and the monster is never referred to by that name. In the book, he is called wretch, creature, monster, demon, and "it". The monster refers to himself as "Adam of your labours."
Agust 30th is sometimes referred to as Frankenstein Day and is the birthday of Mary Godwin Shelley.
What are some fun ways to celebrate this special day...AND get in the mood for Halloween? Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Watch a Frankenstein film...or two
2. Read the orginal Frankenstein book.
3. Dress up as Frankenstein and "roam" your neighborhood.
National Frankenstein Friday was created in 1997 by Ron MacCloskey of Westfield, New Jersey. It is thought that MacCloskey chose Friday for his celebration because of the FR connection (FRankenstein and FRiday). Conveniently, the day is always celebrated on the last Friday of October...just before Halloween!
Enjoy the last weekend of October. I hope to see you all back here on Halloween Monday!