It lives… IT LIVES!
Curiosities and Cruelties
After two centuries of literary and pop culture procreation, Victor Frankenstein and his monster are as virile as ever: synthetic biology, genetically modified organisms, artificial intelligence, the creation of one life at the cost of others. On the threshold of the third century, we stand on unforeseen shores of deep, far-reaching scientific and technological waters.
And yet no truth-told tale is ever far from the sublime, the supernatural, the interior. The alchemy of art is always central to the story. In the case of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, the lives of those involved in its making were as dramatic and mysterious as any character from literature.
In 1816, nineteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin , lover and future wife of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, conceived the idea for Frankenstein during a summer of darkness. Within a few years of the novel’s publication, three of the members involved in its conception were dead. Suicide, premature death, and tragedy are as woven into the tale as the words themselves.
Frankenstein is at heart the story of a very misguided “parent” whose destructive offspring outlives him both in the novel and in our collective imagination. Ambition divorced from responsibility; genius wedded to derangement; the creator who rejects his own creation so fully he will not even give it a name. It is a tale of monsters and their monstrosities; it is thus also, of course, a very human tale, and one that continues to be written.