In Search of Frankenstein – Mary Shelley’s Nightmare
A pivotal scene in Mary Shelleys 1818 Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus occurs in the Alps, when Victor Frankenstein wanders into the mountains to find some peace from his guilt and terror following the escape of his monster. Its there that he witnesses the figure of a man, at some distance, advancing towards me with superhuman speed; its his creature, his experiment in giving life. Yet instead of the mortal combat Victor anticipates, the creature asks for his love: I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.
In the summer of 1816 Shelley conceived of Frankenstein, sparked by a ghost story writing challenge instigated by Lord Byron. Bone chilling rain had kept their group, which also included Percy Shelley and John Polidori, confined inside the Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva. The terrible weather was attributed to the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, its ash contributing to cooling temperatures that caused crop failure around the world, and whats known as the Year Without a Summer. Two centuries after Shelley, British photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews journeyed through the same Alpine landscapes for her series In Search of Frankenstein, on view through July 1 at the British Library in London. A book, In Search of Frankenstein Mary Shelleys Nightmare, recently published by Kodoji Press, features her photographs alongside whats known as the Geneva Notebook, the first half of Shelleys original manuscript. The authors scrawled handwriting, with crossed-out words and inky additions, contrasts in its spirited energy to the stark mountains and human-made tunnels that bore through the landscape.
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