Why do certain stories last for many years? And what makes such stories worth coming back to again and again? A perfect example of just such a special story is Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus which turns 200 years old in 2018. Here are some interesting facts which help explain why Frankenstein is still worth reading today;
- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein’s author, was a teenager when she first began writing novel.
- Shelley was born into literary “royalty”. Her mother, Mary Wollenscraft, was an extremely talented lady of letters, novelist, and essayist. Wollenscraft’s most important work was A Vindication of the Rights Woman (1792). She is considered the mother of modern feminism.
- Mary’s father, William Godwin, loved entertaining and their parties were a “who’s who” of the literary world. As a child, she would have been influenced by artists like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Hazlitt, Charles Lamb, and Poet Laureate, William Wordsworth.
- Shelley was hanging out with poets Lord Byron and Percy Shelley (who later became her husband) when the group became inspired by creepy thunderstorms started making-up ghost stories. Thus, Frankenstein was born.
- Also, one of Shelley’s journal entries claims that after losing a baby, she dreamed the little one came to life again and that was inspiration of an reanimated corpse (Frankenstein’s Monster).
- The novel is quite unique and represents one of the first instances of science fiction and modern horror, which is why Shelley is now known as the mother of both genres.
- Additionally, the characters in Frankenstein remain relevant because the story provokes many ethical questions and invokes reader’s empathy and compassion. For instance, Frankenstein’s Monster represents a misunderstood “other” and is therefore relatable to the lonely and marginalized reader of today.
- For two hundred years, Frankenstein has continued to inspire adaptations of many kinds including; music, movies, graphic novels, poetry, and art.
- Another inspiration for the novel was likely fear. New discoveries caused the Romantics (the writers with which Shelley is now associated) to interrogate the scientific realm.
- An early Frankenstein film was made by Thomas Edison and here is a link to check it out. https://youtu.be/w-fM9meqfQ4
Opportunities to learn more about this unique novel abound in 2018 as FCPL plans to host several programs, thanks to a grant from the Indiana Humanities. One State / One Story: Frankenstein is an Indiana Humanities program and has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and in partnership with Indiana State Library and Indiana Center for the Book. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information visit; www.IndianaHumanities.org/Frankenstein and www.NEH.gov.
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