The name of the creator of the archetypal zombielike artificial
man, as well as the moniker given his creation. Frankenstein;
or, the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
(17971851), a classic of English occult fiction, was first published
in London in 1818 in three volumes. It tells the story of
how Dr. Victor Frankenstein creates an artificial man out of
fragments of bodies from churchyards and dissecting roomsa
human form without a soul. The monster longs for love and
sympathy but inspires only horror and loathing and becomes
a powerful force for evil. It seeks revenge against its creator,
murdering his friend, brother, and bride and ultimately bringing
death to Frankenstein himself.
The book owes much to discussions of the time regarding
the scientific work of Erasmus Darwin and to theories of spontaneous
generation and the power of electricity, and is thus also
an early science-fiction story. In her introduction Mary Shelley
writes of the possibility that a corpse might be reanimated.
The book also contains powerful writing with an overall
theme of the moral limits of science and technology. The subtitle
refers to the question of whether science has the right to
usurp the divine function of creation. (Prometheus was a
mythological Greek who stole fire from heaven and thereafter
suffered a horrible punishment from the god Zeus.) The book
was also popular as a modern myth of the dangers of the industrial
era and the many unplanned horrors created by human
inventions manufactured to be a boon to the race.
Mary Wollstonecraft wrote a first draft of the story of Frankenstein
in the company of Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, John
Polidori, and Claire Clairmont when the group spent a week
taking opium while vacationing at the Villa Diodati, Geneva, in
the summer of 1816. Polidoris The Vampyre, came from a suggestion
by Byron that weekend and generated interest in another
monster theme, culminating in such later thrillers as
Bram Stokers Dracula (1897).
Franck (or Frank), Sebastian Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed.
Baldrick, Chris. In Frankensteins Shadow Myth, Monstrosity,
and Nineteenth-Century Writing. Oxford Oxford University
Florescu, Radu. In Search of Frankenstein. New York New
York Graphic Society, 1975.
Forry, Steven Earl. Hideous Progenies Dramatizations of Frankenstein
from Mary Shelley to the Present. Philadelphia University
of Pennsylvania Press, 1990.
Glut, Donald F. The Frankenstein Catalog. Jefferson, N.C.
Troop, Martin. Mary Shelleys Monster. Houghton Mifflin,