Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Everything I Know I Learned from Frankenstein

In the summer of 1816 a group of friends went on vacation together. Among them were poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, and Shelley's young wife Mary. The weather was awful. In fact, that year is often referred to as "the year without a summer." Rain forced the friends to spend much of their time indoors. They amused each other by reading ghost stories aloud (the Romantic version of a pizza and DVD night, I guess).

They must have gotten bored with that, because before long there was a challenge. They should each write a ghost story of their own to share with the group. Mary concocted a frightening tale of a reanimated corpse, the result of "unhallowed arts." She said later it was based on something she'd seen in a dream. The others quickly forgot their stories. Mary continued to work on hers. Her novel was published two years later. This week (March 11) marks the 192nd anniversary of the debut of her masterpiece, FRANKENSTEIN, OR THE MODERN PROMETHEUS.

FRANKENSTEIN is still regarded as a classic of Gothic literature as well as a truly creepy read. It was published when Mary Shelley was only twenty years old. Because she finished it.

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