Monday, August 7, 2017

Let's talk Frankenstein........

Did you know the monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein's name actually was not named Frankenstein?

This lab-made concoction of a being was actually nameless, she did, however, refer to this creature as it, monster, being, demon, vile insect, wretch, and creature.

Frankenstein is actually the main character's name, Victor Frankenstein, the alchemist who created this mysterious figure.

The inspiration for Victor Frankenstein was allegedly a Mr. Johann Conrad Dippel, an alchemist, pietist, physician, and scholar from the 18th century, who was said to experiment with dead bodies within the walls of the Frankenstein Castle.

It is interesting to note that Dippel signed his name as Frankenstein.

Legend has it that Dippel would dig up bodies from the Frankenstein cemetery in desperate attempts to create the elixir vitae a.k.a. Elixir of Life.

Dippel believed he could reanimate body positions and transfer souls of one body to that of another.  What????

He was positive he could bring a body back to life.

He was also sure he could extend a person's life span out to 135 years, even thought he himself only made it to 61.

He also spent many hours butchering animals as well.

 On a side note, we can attribute the creation of Prussian blue dye to Dippel.

He believed that this dye could actually extend life but in the end, he inadvertently poisoned himself with this beautiful shade of blue and when he was found, guess
what color he was, right, blue, Prussian blue to be exact.  His entire body was blue.

It seems like the scientists of the 18th century were upstanding gentlemen of society who did things the majority of people would categorize as bizarre and sociopathic.  This was also a time that scientist would actually perform surgeries and other grotesque dismemberment procedures in front of audiences.

No one is exactly sure how Ms. Shelley came up with this story but it has been said she wrote the story as a personification of her own guilt of the death of her mother in childbirth and Percy Shelley's first wife who drowned herself after he left her alone and pregnant while he was touring Europe with Mary and other friends.  (Mary and Percy married in 1816).  It was during this trip that the idea of Frankenstein was born.

Mary and her friends entered a horror story writing competition while traveling throughout Europe.

It is believed that when Mary and her friends traveled through the mountainous region of Southern Germany and to a town called Darmstadt and this is where Mary learned of this mad
scientist/inventor which coincidentally was not far away from Frankenstein Castle.

Mary was 20 years old when she wrote Frankenstein.  She maintained that the idea for her story came to her in a dream.  I personally have never had a dream about an eccentric, God-playing old man cutting up dead bodies but I guess anything is possible.

The first edition was published anonymously in 1818 because of the whole "woman can't be writers thing," but later in 1823, her name was added.

Mary certainly had a hard life with her mother dying, a sister committed suicide, she gave birth four times but only her fourth child, Percy Florence, lived.  Her husband, Percy, died in 1822 in a sailing accident.  Mary was only 24 at the time.

She continued to write to support her and her son and while she did write several other novels, nothing compared to Frankenstein.

Mary Shelley died in 1851 at the age of 53 of complications of brain cancer.  I think Frankenstein is a book everyone should read at some point, not the abridge/edited editions, the original.
Sadly, at this point, we will never know how Frankenstein came to be.  Some mysteries are better left unsolved.

If you want to read more about kooky German science dudes, check out Sigmund Rascher.  Another article with pretty disturbing pictures can be found here.

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