|When one mentions
the name Frankenstein, usually one thing comes to mind: a creature pieced
together from decomposing corpses. A creature betrayed by his maker—an
overzealous scientist who is weakened by his own passion for life.
Is there a connection between the castle Frankenstein and the novelist
Mary Shelley? There are many scholars who believe that the connections
||This is how the novel Frankenstein
was conceived. It was 1816 and on Lake Geneva during a dark and stormy
summer night, four friends gathered in a stately living room by a glowing
hearth. The English poet, Lord Byron, his personal physician
John Polidori, Mary Shelley and Percy spent the evening entertaining one
another with German ghost stories. Finally, Lord Byron made a dare,
he challenged the members of the group to conjure up a story of horror.
"We will each write a ghost story," he stated.
|And a story Mary Shelley did write.
Frankenstein was published two years later in 1818. Victor Frankenstein,
obsessed with the nuances of the beauty and mysteries of life, he haphazardly
pieces together the "creature." Shocked by its appearance, Victor
rejects and abandons his creation, leaving his monster to fend for himself
and run amok amongst the countryside. A familiar motif in twentieth
century novels and film, the story of Victor Frankenstein has been romanticized
(Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, 1994) regurgitated (the Universal and
Hammer Frankenstein films) and reinvented (2001: A Space Odyssey, Westworld,
||The question is, what ties does the castle
Frankenstein have with Mary Shelly’s novel? In 1814, Mary Shelley and her
lover and later husband, Percy Shelley were traveling through Germany.
It is believed that the Shelleys visited the Burgstasse region during a
river boat trip. In the early 1800s, the castle was visible from
the Rhine and possibly provoked an excursion into the surrounding villages.
Why are some literary scholars convinced? There is a connection between
Victor Frankenstein and Konrad Dipple, a resident and alchemist who was
born on August 10th, 1673 in the Frankenstein castle.
was a rogue student at the University of Giessen. He was a scholar
of radical thought and left the University after finishing his thesis entitled,
De Nihilo (On Nothing), which implied that he had learned very little,
or nothing from his instructors. It was then that began to travel
the countryside, lecturing on subjects as divinity and astrology.
Later he relocated at the castle Frankenstein, the place where he felt
his family roots. Even though Dipple had no common blood with the
family of Frankenstein, he considered himself a member of the Frankenstein
He became known as "Dipple the Alchemist"
as was believed to have been trying to create a chemical that would prolong
one’s life. Rumors circulated stating that he was collecting body
parts to assist in the making of this formula. Dipple claimed that
his formula was to allow him to live to the age of 135 but it is believed
that he died by drinking his own potion. On the morning of April
24th, 1734, Dipple’s body was found by one of his friends. He became
another legend in the history of Frankenstein.
||Could Mary Shelley been told of Konrad
Dipple during her presumed visit of the castle? There are connections
in her story that affirm this thought. The character of Victor Frankenstein
is similar to the Alchemist Dipple. Both had a passion for life.
Both left their university studies to delve into a dangerous science.
Both died tragically from the makings of their obsession—the obsession
of harnessing life and the futile attempt to reject the manifestation of
1998, Bryan Bailey, All rights reserved.