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Volume 0398
Edgar Rice Burroughs
MONSTER MEN

Before and After ERB's Vision
 
 
 
 
 
 

Classics Illustrated Frankenstein, December 1945All-Story November 1913 - Man Without A Soul - P.J. Monahan Art - All



National Library of Medicine
Mary Shelley, Dr. Frankenstein, and their "Monster"



William GodwinMary ShelleyMary Wollstonecraft
Mary Shelley was the daughter of William Godwin, a political theorist, novelist, and publisher who introduced her to eminent intellectuals and encouraged her youthful efforts as a writer; and of Mary Wollstonecraft, a writer and early feminist thinker, who died shortly after her daughter's birth.
Mary ShelleyThe Villa DiodatiPercy Shelley
At fifteen, Mary met the poet Percy Shelley, who was married at the time. Two years later, she ran off with him to France. They were married in December 1816, two weeks after Percy Shelley's first wife drowned. By then Mary had already borne him two children. In the summer of 1816, nineteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover, the poet Percy Shelley visited the poet Lord Byron at his villa beside Lake Geneva in Switzerland. One evening, Byron challenged his guests to each write a ghost story. Mary's story, inspired by a dream, became Frankenstein.
When I placed my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. . . . I saw--with shut eyes, but acute mental vision--I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous Creator of the world.
Mary Shelley, from her introduction to the third edition of Frankenstein
The Monster in Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein, 1823 Shelley's original novel, memorable for its story and ambitious in the large questions it poses, has invariably been simplified and distorted, sometimes almost beyond recognition. This is a 1823 poster from an English Opera House production of a play entitled Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein. Though inspired by her novel, the play departed from it freely--as playwrights, filmmakers, and political cartoonists have done ever since. 


The first cinematic version of Frankenstein was a silent film produced by Edison Films; it came two decades before the famous 1931 Universal Studios picture.
Monster and creator: Frankenstein Edison Film
Boris Karloff as the Monster in Frankenstein
Frankenstein Movie Poster, 1931
The reshaping of Mary Shelley's story began almost from the moment it first appeared. The 1931 Universal Studios production of Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff as the monster, capped more than a century of variant tellings of the original story. Compared to Shelley's sensitive, articulate creature, Universal's was crude and unformed. But the sheer power of Hollywood image-making gave him an impact as great or greater than Shelley's, and made him into an icon of popular culture. Just as Shelley's story was shaped by the science of the day, so was Hollywood's influenced by some of the scientific and pseudo-scientific preoccupations of its day, including eugenics, robots, and surgical transplants.

Frankenstein earned rave reviews, was named to top-ten lists, and made lots of money; the production cost $290,000 in Depression-era dollars, and earned more than $12 million.

1935 Article: Can Science Raise the Dead? In the years before Universal Studios released Frankenstein in 1931, scientists seemed poised to penetrate once-sacrosanct boundaries between life and death, a prospect that continued both to trouble the intellect and thrill the imagination. Newspapers and magazines speculated freely about one day reviving the dead, achieving immortality through the use of artificial organs, and altering the genetic shape of future generations through eugenics. The Universal film responded to these themes in popular culture.

Spurned by his creator, Mary Shelley's monster kills for revenge. The movie monster, on the other hand, kills because he's been given the brain of a criminal. Early in the twentieth century, "biological determinism" was in the air; heredity, more than environment or education, the idea went, caused social problems. Proponents of eugenics wanted to improve the human species through compulsory sterilization of criminals, the mentally retarded, and others deemed social misfits. Some two-thirds
of Americans were said to support such measures.


Quotations from Frankenstein
If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections, and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is not befitting the human mind.

My dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed -- my dearest pleasure when free.

Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of voice, but out of chaos.

Life is obstinate and clings closest where it is most hated.



The Modern Prometheus
The subtitle The Modern Prometheus refers to the figure in Greek mythology who was responsible for a conflict between mankind and the gods. In order to help the people, Prometheus stole Zeus's fire from the sun. The people were thereby given an advantage to the animals since fire gave man the ability to make weapons and tools. Prometheus was severely punished by Zeus who chained him to a rock in the Caucasus. Every night, Prometheus was visited by an eagle who ate from his liver. During the day, however, his liver grew back to its original state.

It also refers to the story of Prometheus plasticator who was to said to have created and animated mankind out of clay.

These two myths were eventually fused together: the fire that Prometheus had stolen is the fire of life with which he animated his clay models. Because of the 'creating' aspect, Prometheus became a symbol for the creating artist in the eighteenth century.

Victor Frankenstein can indeed be seen as the modern Prometheus. He defies the gods by creating life himself. Instead of being the created, Victor takes God's place and becomes the creator. Just as Prometheus, Victor gets punished for his deeds. He is, however, punished by his creation whereas Prometheus was punished by the god who he stole from.

Encarta '95. CD-ROM. United States of America: Microsoft Corporation, 1994.
Percy Shelley's funeral pyre eerily echoes a scene from Frankenstein
The H. G. Wells Connection
The Island of Dr. Moreau(1896)
by H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells (1866-1946) 
"On a deceivingly beautiful island in the South Seas exists the sinister kingdom of Doctor Moreau. Shipwrecked in this seeming paradise, the unfortunate Edward Prendick stumbles upon the wild beastly creations of the sadistic doctor and enters into a bizarre and terrifying world of a doctor who plays an evil God and cruelly creates monstrosities of living creatures. The scientist playing god seems more relevant than ever in the age of cloning."
H. G. Wells and friends




MONSTER MEN FROM JAPAN
Monster MenMonster Men


A SAMPLING OF FUTURE CONNECTIONS

The first mention of cloning in science fiction literature was in the 1896 H.G Wells novel, Island of Dr. Moreau. Dr. Hans Spemann of Germany first envisioned cloning in 1938. The history of cloning has been rapid -- less than sixty years later humans were cloned. Cells taken from human embryos were developed to 32-cell stage before they were destroyed.

THE TARZAN CONNECTION
 

Dark Horse Comics: Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan 
The Modern Prometheus (Pts 1 & 2) ~ 1997
Written by: Lovern Kindzierski ~ Art by: Stan Manoukin & Vince Roucher 
Cover by: Michael Kaluta
Issue #13~ 97.08.06 ~ Pt. 1: 
Tarzan encounters the concrete jungle! New York's scientific community is fighting over rights to the notebooks of Dr. Victor von Frankenstein, and the jungle lord finds himself pulled into the middle of the fray when a hulking monster figures into the mix. This issue features Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Frankenstein's monster! 
Issue #14 ~ 97.09.03 ~ Pt 2:
The notes of Dr. Victor von Frankenstein, the greatest scientific mind of the nineteenth century, have fallen into the hands of the greatest scientific mind of the twentieth century, Thomas Edison. Tarzan is determined that Edison will not repeat the mistakes of the late Dr. Frankenstein . . . but there's a hulking beast that has his own stake in all of this! 


THE JOHN WYNDHAM CONNECTION
The Day of the Triffids

John WyndhamTriffid StingerDay of the Triffids: The Movie

In this Wyndham classic, scientists develop triffids: tall, three-legged ambulatory plants with poisonous whiplash stings. As long as they are kept under control they are considered harmless... and useful, because they can be mashed to produce a delicate pink oil, far more nutritious and tasty than fish. However, when more scientific meddling brings about a worldwide human disaster, the triffids who thrive on decaying carrion, soon become a major problem to the world's survivors.


THE STEPHEN SPIELBURG CONNECTION

Jurassic Park logo
Jurassic Park References
Jurassic Park WebRing List of Sites
The Science of Jurassic Park
The Austin Powers Connection
Mini Me is a smaller version of Dr. Evil and they look exactly alike. "I love to be freaked out and very few things freak me out anymore," Myers explained how he came up with the idea for the character. "I was watching Island of Dr. Moreau with a friend and that mini Marlon Brando came on and we were like 'oh my G-d' that is the weirdest thing I've ever seen in my life. I just thought Dr. Evil has got to have a guy like that!"
Austin Powers and Mini Me


MONSTER LINKS

Frankenstein e-Text v.1  v.2v.3 (annotated)
Mary Shelley and Frankenstein
Life of Mary Shelley
Summer of 1816
Literary Sources of Frankenstein
The "Birth" of a Monster
Mary Shelley and Frankenstein Links  More Links
Frankenstein: Promise and Peril
Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus
Frankenstein Exhibit: National Library of Medicine
Frankenstein and Neuromancer
Genealogy of Victor Frankenstein's relatives and friends
Frankenstein Art Gallery
Frankenstein references to literary works
The Young Frankenstein Movie Transcript  Script v.2
Frankenstein Poetry  Poetry v.2
Frankenstein Quiz
1818 Review of the New Frankenstein Novel
The Mortal Immortal by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: e-Text & Hypertext
Other Works by Mary Shelley
Island of Lost Souls Movie Review
The Island of Dr. Moreau text in HTML
John Wyndham Archive
Jurassic Park A Reality?
Scientific American: Your Bionic Future ~ I, Clone
Omni Future of Cloning
Genetic Nightmare
 


Volume 0398

BILL HILLMAN
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