View Full Version : Mary Shelly and actual history

06-30-2004, 03:20 PM
Im trying to find out if the story of Frankenstein has to do with actual history.

The question may seem far fetched, but its got me curious.

Here it goes;

France had a dynasty called "Merovingian" ,that lasted from 500 to 750. The strange part of this is that the country wasn't called France at that time, it was called "Franken"

France didn't start to be called France until the Carolingian dynasty was in power.

When I had realized what france was called, before it was called France, the first thing I thought of was Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. I was wondering if Mary Shelly was actually talking about France as being like a Frankenstein.

I got on the Internet and looked up a time line history of events in 1818 when the book was published to see if there was a war going on between France and England, but they weren't at war. In my mind, if there was a war going on between the two countries, then I thought that would be a motivations for her to write it, as a way to vent her anger over the war. Since there was no war between the two, my motivation to go down this way of thinking stopped.

I just find it real strange that France use to be called Franken, and Mary Shelly's book is called Frankenstein.I'm wondering if Mary shelly could of read things about Franken and its dynasty to movitate her to wrie the book.

So, is there any link between France being called Franken before it was called France and the book Frankenstein?

This is a very legitimate question. It may sound dumb but it's legitimate.


which really doesn't have to do with this.

I noticed that the new dynasty was called "Carolingian", when I looked at that, it automatically reminded me of the states of Carolina and North Carolina. I wonder if those states come from the word "Carolingian"

07-02-2004, 07:23 AM
the french were called 'franks' in early days... franconia was the historic kernel that formed today's germany and france... so, in german, 'frankenstein' could mean 'french stone' [or rock]

there are books about mary shelley that may contain info on why she chose that name for the doctor who wanted to create life...

hope this helps a bit... love and hugs, maia

ps: i love solving mysteries, too!... let me know if you ever get to the bottom of this one, ok?

07-02-2004, 08:42 AM
the doctor who wanted to create life...

You do mean, controlling life in a derogitory way? correct?

07-02-2004, 09:33 AM
in German, 'Frankenstein' could mean 'French stone' [or rock]

This statement makes me wonder if Dr. Frankensteins intention was to just create life or was he trying to create immortal life. Its one thing if he was trying to get body parts to just create life, which can be viewed as a person trying reverse tragic deaths, or for some good reason , it could even be viewed as a derogatory way such as "master slave relationship", but its another thing if Dr. Frankenstein wanted to create immortal life. That could not just give the view of seeking immoral life but also to have master slave relationships emerge. So, my view of Frankenstein is changing with more questions now of the intention of the story.

I've read about Mary Shelly a long time ago, I know about her parents and that she wrote Frankenstein in a weekend trip after her and who ever it was suggested every one write a scary story and she came out with this. Almost like a fluke kind of thing.

But there was never once mentioned where she got the name Frankenstein.

People in time have been trying to find out the meaning of Frankenstein. I did read that some people believe that it was because of the loss of her baby, others believe that it is her anger at doctors, others believe variant other things, but no one is for sure why she wrote the book.

When I had seen the word Franks to be the name of France before it was called France, I instantly wondered if there was a connection there. I say this out of irrelevance to whether anyone has had these same thoughts run through their mind.

I wonder if she could of been under the care of a French doctor and wrote the book out of anger for the doctor.

This is wild speculation and guessing on my part. Like talking out loud and seeing how they sound.

I believe, since finding the word Franks, that the solution to figuring out what Mary Shelly was trying to say lays with two things.

1) The word Frankenstein
2) The intention to the use of the word Frankenstein

I believe that in any story , that there is at least one word in the story that leads to the intention for the story. I believe that every writer gives away the reason and intention for their writing.

I believe very seriously that Mary Shelly was very angry and very sad about something that motivated her. The story of Frankenstein reeks of anger and sadness. Like the way a person would be like and behave like after losing something permanently.

But then again she may not of projecting herself and self experience in that story but of some one else.

I can very clearly see why people believe that Mary Shelly could of written the book over the loss of her baby. If she suffered from permanent shock syndrome then there is a good chance that those feelings could have been locked in her like a vacuum. permanent shock syndrome is a common thing to happen to women when their baby dies at birth, there are scores of women out there who have permanent shock syndrome. (permanent shock syndrome is called by another name which I have forgotten at the time of writing this)

I believe that what ever it was that Mary Shelly experienced or had seen through someone else or others was monstrous and monstrous to her and it brought about this fear, anger and sadness that Frankenstein brings about. I wonder if the fear or the scariness of Frankenstein is suppose to bring out the fear or scariness that Mary Shelly went through or had seen others go through or what ever she realised and wa projecting it in the book so to get others to experience that fear or that spareness, or maybe to use it to awaken people to what shes trying to say in the movie.

Im also wondering if shes is depicting life as Dr. Frankenstein. I wonder if she was viewing life like it was Frankenstein (to her)

I'm still trying to focus on how direct or indirect Mary Shelly is being with bringing her story across. Im trying to look for thngs that may look obvious but may have something unobvious to them. An indirect, indirect kind of thing.

Im going to stop here, I could go on. These are thing's going through my mind.

07-02-2004, 03:32 PM
I have a vague memory that she actually knew someone of this name, I suggest checking biographical detail before getting to carried away. I recall an enormous essay by frued about how Napoleons'; life was shaped by seeing a vulture at an early age, much use of vulture mythology and imagery -- then Freud found he had a bad translation and Napoleon had actually seen a crow.

07-03-2004, 05:52 AM
"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!"

07-03-2004, 03:59 PM
I like taking stories like Frankenstein and trying tofigure out what the author is saying. It seems that no one else enjoys this, or at least that ive met. hmmmm

07-03-2004, 08:45 PM
thing is, it's an exercise in futility, since no one can ever really know... unless the author actually said so somewhere, that is... and here, toto, you'll find most of the folks who post are working hard to get their writing finished and/or sold, so don't have time for idle speculation, no matter how enjoyable it might be... so, don't take it personally, ok?... hugs, maia

07-25-2004, 08:26 PM
analyzing why an author wrote what.

Why do you write what you do? I have no idea. I sit, I get idea, I bang keys. I am sure that at some point (when I am a best seller :grin ) that someone will say why did SR write this?

I have some up with character names because I was drinking a Pepsi and decided to rearrange some letters on the can.

No hidden meaning.


Probably why I did poorly in those classes where endless hours were spent speaking of motivation and analyzing the why of books.


07-26-2004, 05:37 AM
I just believe that there was something underneath of the whole story that she was expressing.

Supposedly Nostradamus actually lived and those predictions he manifested, was supposedly true (that he did them). In his writings he created something called Quatrains. Short little paragraphs of writings. He wrote those predictions out in those quatrains in a way that it made it very difficult for the people of his present day to be able to decipher.

When I look at Mary Shelly's writings, I believe that she wrote Frankenstein and has underneath of it something that she is saying. Its hard for me to believe that she just wrote that just because it was a good story. Yet at the same time I don't believe that every good story has some hidden meaning behind it.

you can't tell me that when she was writing that story it didn't induce deep reflection of the things she was writing about. Yet I believe that the substance of the story was all ready in her head: meaning that she was all ready in deep reflection of things before taking pen in hand.

Don't most writers have a double agenda int their writings. Having one story on the surface with secondary story underneath or at least some kind of deep meanings or symbolics that lead to some kind of meaning under the surface of the over all story?

How can a person write a story like that and not have something going on under the surface.

I feel the same way with Frank Baum. Every though he elaberated on that story and created many different other stories steaming from the wizard of oz that theres still something underneath . But recently I read that Mr Baum had someone else write the wizard of oz with him. Even though my impression is that he wrote it alone, if he did have partner then i would have to dismiss these thoughts. It would useless then.

I do believe that stories like the wizard of oz and Frankenstein can be written without motive or anything covert. Yet, the more complex they are , like the wizard of oz and Frankenstein, its harder for me to believe this because of the complexity of them.

07-26-2004, 08:43 PM
toto... i'm going to transfer this [i hope!] to the 'office party' board, as it's not connected to mentoring and will, i'm sure, get more exposure, giving you more input on your topic...

love and hugs, maia
[w/ my mentoring mod hat on]

07-26-2004, 11:58 PM
In a previous post I made about Shelley, I noted that, from what I saw on the program, she got the name "Frankenstein" from a German family she and her husband met while vacationing there.

That program also talked about how Shelley pretty much dreamed the story of the monster (which is often mistakenly referred to as Frankenstein; remember, that was the doctor's name). There were certain events in her life that contributed to the creation of the story, how electricity was being tested on corpses to see if it could result in reanimation.

As to your reference of Carolingian related to the Carolinas: I was taught in history that the states got their name from England's King Charles I (Latin "Carolus").

Don't most writers have a double agenda in their writings. Having one story on the surface with secondary story underneath or at least some kind of deep meanings or symbolics that lead to some kind of meaning under the surface of the over all story?

Not always. Sometimes, a story is just a story. The fact that it's related to current events in some way or can be tied to history in some way is only a coicidence. Usually, anyway. :)

07-27-2004, 12:08 AM
It seemed important enough to my Fantasy and Literature teachers to grade me on my interpretation of the message portrayed by the Author.
I never did well on those exams. I asked why I couldn't just read them and enjoy.

I think lots of people like to analyse the message.


07-27-2004, 01:11 AM
Also, to add on to this, about "what Shelley had to say"....

You'll note that Frankenstein wasn't evil when he was first created, he only became evil when he faced the evils of the world. This was a common idea from the great thinkers of the time, the same great thinkers that influenced the French and American revolutions. That men were basically good and it was the things they encountered in the world that made them evil.

The story was, though, written as a constest between herself and her husband and someone else (forget his name), to try and write the best horror story they all could.

07-27-2004, 02:44 AM
Afraid I don't think the story carried that much philosophy. Hey, I got me a torch, ( propane fed, mind you, but just as effective) Lets' put an end to this fairytale.

07-27-2004, 03:25 AM
I didn't say it did carry a lot of philosophy, only that it came out of that era (and that Shelley herself "hung" with these gentlemen, and scientists and poets and philosophers all throughout her childhood) and that it undoubtedly influenced her.

07-27-2004, 03:28 AM
written as a constest between herself and her husband and someone else (forget his name)

George Gordon, Lord Byron

07-27-2004, 03:39 AM
The other thing that I question with this story, is, was there really one particular thig on her mind when writing this story? like as if it was different things she was trying to say. I don't know.

07-27-2004, 07:50 AM
<blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!" Sigmund Freud<hr></blockquote>

<blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>"Sometimes a cigar is more than a cigar!" William Jefferson Clinton<hr></blockquote>

Sorry. Couldn't help it.

07-27-2004, 08:12 AM
oh well

07-27-2004, 02:51 PM
Just try googling it, or look for a biography on Shelley. That'll tell you more than we can.

07-28-2004, 12:40 AM
can't people be able to talk about a subject

07-28-2004, 12:53 AM
You can't insist that they do. If they're interested, they talk.

07-28-2004, 12:58 AM
There was no insisting in what I said.

Where do you come up with this suff.

07-28-2004, 01:05 AM
Insistance comes in many packages. It's as subtle as an Italian gramma turning her head when she doesn't get the praise within ten seconds after spooning out her homemade raviolis.

Ah, you hadda been there.

07-28-2004, 01:27 AM
That's an incorrect view

07-28-2004, 01:37 AM
Tell that to my gramma.

07-28-2004, 07:07 PM
can't people be able to talk about a subject

Not if they don't know anything about the subject.

And it's apparent that most of us don't know if there's a lot of historical connections in Frankenstein. We've told you what we know.

Would you like us to make something up?

07-28-2004, 10:10 PM
Either we don't know or we don't see it.

If people don't want to talk about a subject, there's no sense in trying to push it onto them.

07-28-2004, 11:02 PM
Each person who came in this thread, did it by their own choice.Each person who wrote or will write anything in this thrread , chooses to do this on their own. When a person goes into a thread and then chooses on their own to write, what ever it is they write is bing done by theirown choice, this causes this to be totally opposite of having something pushed on them. There are no have too's. No one forced anyone else to go t any thread and write anything. No boo hoo's there.

Pushing something upon other people doesn't exist on boards.

It's called displacement.

07-29-2004, 01:11 AM
Actually you got it all wrong:

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was a woman writing in the first person as a man. Women do this sometimes.

During her wandering years with a man with whom she ran away, Percy (along with her Stepsister), she met up with one Lord Byron with whom she would become lifelong friends. Lord Byron challenged Shelly and Percy that they all should all write a ghost story and compare notes to see who was more successful.
Percy disappeared for several months returning to his wife n the homeland. Mary was feeling low since she was committing adultery with an older man who frequently visited his spouse. To battle the depression she kept trying to write the story. Little did she know that Percy and Byron were only trying to keep her occupied while they rendered sloppy hanky panky on the other women in their lives.
One late night Mary ran out of beer and searched for Lord Byron to borrow some change with which to purchase more. Carrying her beer mug around she accidentally walked in on Byron doing the nasty on his sister.

“You incestuous twit!” she screamed at him.
“How dare you come barging in here,” he answered shaking in his anger, “What brings you here to my chambers so rudely?”
“I was merely seeking a little coin with which to purchase more beer, and now I see this! How disgusting.”
“Be gone!” Byron yelled flipping metallic currency at her. It landed in her beer mug making Byron and his sister laugh hysterically.
This was a new low in Mary’s life and she went back to her room, slammed the door and slid the lock.

Crying uncontrollably with her face in her shaking hands she wailed out, “what a rotten lot I am in life! I cannot become inspired in my writings, my boyfriend ran out on me and now my best friend is knowing his sister in the ways of the bible.”

She cried a little more but the tears had run their course. She looked at the empty mug and exclaimed:

“And all I got to show for it is this Franc in Stein!”

07-29-2004, 01:18 AM
LOL!!!!! :rofl

Oh, RT. Your talents are so wasted on us.

aka eraser
07-29-2004, 01:24 AM
I was waiting for it but it was still darn funny. :D :thumbs

07-30-2004, 01:55 AM
Alternate Theory on the Origin of Shelly's Frankenstein

The month-long party was nearing an end, and on the morrow, Percy, Byron and Mary would go seperate ways from the Austrian retreat. After a rather athletic and vigorous late-night tryst, the three enjoyed a brief respite, and talk soon turned to the common denominator shared by all; the writing of horror.

Mary and Percy discussed themes of the genre and the darkside of human nature, while Byron drifted into slumber. Always the pranskter, Percy lit a cigar and promptly dropped the match into Byron's naked lap.

Byron leapt from the bed, holding a sheet to his wounded, lower anatomy.

Percy laughed and yelled gleefully, "It's alive! It's ALIVE!"

Hmm, thought Mary. Intersting.

"UGH!" cried Byron. "Fire bad!"

Hmm, Mary thought, again.

The next morning, as the trio of friends settled debts with the innkeeper, a frantic man rushed into the commons area.

Herr Ludwick, did you hear about poor Klaus?!"

"Klaus?" repeated the startled innkeeper. " Why do you ask?"

"Ah, sir, but poor Klaus is dead! He was hunting deer along the German border when he happened upon a massive buck. The deer impaled poor Klaus before a single shot was fired."

The innkeeper looked stricken. "Do you mean to say...?"

"Aye, sir! Klaus has been killed by a Frankish tine!"

Hmm, indeed! thought Mary, smiling.

aka eraser
07-30-2004, 02:31 AM
LOL Liam. :clap

07-30-2004, 03:17 AM

07-30-2004, 03:32 AM
No comments from the Florida contingency, please.

(Beside, Rtilry, it's your fault) :grin

Let's discuss Ivanhoe next!

07-30-2004, 04:13 AM

:jump :ha :rofl

07-30-2004, 11:29 AM
wow 2 pages, didnt expect it to go this far.

07-30-2004, 06:11 PM
One thing you learn here toto; you never know which way a subject may lead or end up.



MacAl Stone
07-30-2004, 08:36 PM
Where exactly would one go to obtain an Italian grandma who makes homemade raviolis, is what I really wanna know...

07-30-2004, 09:18 PM
haven't made 'em lately, being as i'm a hermit and only cook for m'self... but made 'em i did... and w/ 15 additional humans added to the global pile by my 7 kids, i'm a bona fide gramma, honeypot!

as for the italian part, all that shows in me is my sicilian/calabrese half, now being the ultimat nonna in appearance... the german/irish from dad's side only showed up when i useta drink [gave it up long ago], being a happy drunk thanks to the celtic genes... and i've successfully suppressed all teutonic traits but a penchant for having a clean living/work environment [not to the point of pain, however]...

07-30-2004, 09:25 PM
the german/irish from dad's side only showed up when i useta drink [gave it up long ago], being a happy drunk thanks to the celtic genes

Ah, if only I had been so fortunate, I'd still be able to enjoy a pint now and then. Although I share some of the same DNA described by Maia, my Celtic genes deferred to my Scandnavian heritage where alcohol is concerned. The Viking hordes were probably "happy drunks" but the poor folks that stood in their path weren't too thrilled. I've since traded bourbon for ginger ale. :)

As for the Italian cooking, I'll trade ya' my scottish uncle and a horde of heathen brothers for an Italian granny.

07-31-2004, 09:04 PM
...it'll only cost ya one room and bath with internet hookup and twice daily use of the kitchen [for which you're rewarded with my leftovers]... all offers will be seriously considered!

hugs, nonnamaia

ps: oddly enough, a writer-in-need in germany has just put in a bid!... so, should other bids not be forthcoming, come fall, i just may be 'coming to you' from the black forest... wild, huh?

08-01-2004, 02:14 AM
Wild indeed! I look forward to reading about your adventures!

08-01-2004, 09:04 PM
solly, cholly... i just live 'em, don't write about 'em!...

hugs, m

08-01-2004, 09:18 PM
Oh, no! You can't tease about a trip to Germany, then skimp on details. :grin

08-03-2004, 12:06 AM
ok, if i go, i'll tellya all all about it... deal?... if you want the skinny on some of my other wanderings, go to my site and find 'triage' and 'alms for the poor' in the essays and you can email me for a rundown on my global house/pet-sitting gigs...

hugs, m

03-03-2014, 11:50 PM
I just wanted to resurrect a 10 year old post. No big deal.

03-04-2014, 07:01 AM
It's like resurrecting Frankenbergerstein

Max Vaehling
03-04-2014, 03:56 PM
I do enjoy a good wild-guessing of factoids lost to time. But they're only good as long as the facts stay where they are and the guessing is restricted to the parts we really don't know. That's the difference between The DaVinci Code (easily debunked and dismissed) and Foucault's Pendulum (which is a joy to follow through). I'm afraid the Frankenstein-as-France theory is more of a DaVinci Code.

The story was inspired by experiments conducted by a Doctor Darwin (I couldn't figure out which one of the Darwins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin-Wedgwood_family#Robert_Darwin) it was in a hurry, but he wasn't French) who had briefly animated body tissue with electricity. Lord Byron's and Percy Shelley's talk about that inspired Mary Shelley's nightmare which became the initial outline of Frankenstein.

I think I remember reading that she chose the name because it sounded German. (That thng about a family she knew sounds familiar, too.) This makes sense because the whole ghost story challenge was inspired by a book of German ghost stories, and because in the 19th century, horror was generally considered a very German genre. After all, that's where the term "gothic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goths) horror" comes from. I always liked Poe's argument that "terror is not of Germany, but of the soul", which he used to justify that he, as an American, could write horror, too.

The only connection to France I know of was that it was a French translation of those German ghost stories they marveled over on that first night in Switzerland.

BTW, there's still a part of Germany that's called Franken. And it's been there for a while. It's even possible that Shelley passed it on the way to Switzerland, but she may as well have gone via France.

03-04-2014, 04:25 PM
Are you sure it was a Darwin and not Galvani (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/frankenstein/galvanism.html)?

03-04-2014, 04:52 PM
And in all this talk of the Shelleys and Byron, poor old Polidori gets overlooked again. Shame really as The Vampyre laid down the skeleton for a great deal of later vamps to hang stories on.

And all because Byron wanted a ghost story.

There's several good fictional takes on the fateful weekend at the Villa Diodati where the ideas all came - I've always had a soft spot for the movie, GOTHIC, and Tim Powers' recent book HIDE ME AMONG THE GRAVES approaches it from a different direction.

Max Vaehling
03-04-2014, 09:03 PM
Are you sure it was a Darwin and not Galvani (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/frankenstein/galvanism.html)?

According to Shelley's own introduction to the 1831 edition, it was Darwin. But she may have got it wrong. Or maybe one of the Darwins reproduced Galvani's experiments.

03-04-2014, 09:29 PM
According to Shelley's own introduction to the 1831 edition, it was Darwin. But she may have got it wrong. Or maybe one of the Darwins reproduced Galvani's experiments.

You're talking about Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles.

Max Vaehling
03-04-2014, 09:35 PM
Probably. As I said, I couldn't place it in a hurry, but he did sound like the most likely to do that. Except that he had died long before 1816, so I couldn't be sure.

03-05-2014, 03:12 AM
I should have read her introduction before commenting. And now I look at the intro and puzzle over her linking of Darwin and spontaneously-generating vermicelli, this makes the issue a bit clearer (http://blogs.dickinson.edu/romnat/2011/06/10/erasmus-darwin-and-the-frankenstein-mistake/). Did Vorticella rotifers or nematodes give rise to the modern Prometheus?

ETA Note to self: Read things twice before posting.

03-05-2014, 04:00 AM
Fun fact- in the middle ages the Chinese referred to all white people as Franks. That was just their blanket name for Europeans. Sorta the same way a lot of modern westerners just call any Asian person Chinese.