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Old 16.02.2011, 01:03
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Frankenstein---the forgotten Swiss character

I was watching a bad version of Frankenstein where the dean at the American university where Victor works tells him,

"Why don't you go back to Transylvania where you came from?"
"I think I will! At least there, people understand me!"

And then it hit me---Transylvania? Isn't Victor Frankenstein from Geneva? Keeping that in mind, notwithstanding his Germanic name, isn't his native language most probably French?

Anyway, that made me download the original version of Frankenstein which Mary Shelley wrote in 1818. So far, it looks like she tried to add local colour---Victor's father meets his wife in Lucerne while visiting a former friend who moved away from Geneva when his fortune failed. Victor's future wife Elizabeth is adopted by his parents when they are vacationing along the shores of Lake Como.

I'll comment more on the novel as I read it, but for those of you who have, how does Shelley's use of Switzerland as a backdrop for the novel work for you?
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Old 16.02.2011, 01:41
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Re: Frankenstein---the forgotten Swiss character

Seems like a bad film. I think they were getting confused with Dracula. I didn't think Frankenstein had any connection with Transylvania.
Mary Shelley certainly had plenty of connections with Switzerland.
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Old 16.02.2011, 02:09
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Re: Frankenstein---the forgotten Swiss character

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Seems like a bad film. I think they were getting confused with Dracula. I didn't think Frankenstein had any connection with Transylvania.
Mary Shelley certainly had plenty of connections with Switzerland.
Well, this is a bad film, but I'm willing to bet that if I rent the 1931 movie with Boris Karloff as the Monster, they probably make the same mistake. Funny how most casual horror fans would think it's ridiculous that Frankenstein's first name in that film is "Henry", but think nothing of the film being set in Romania rather than Switzerland.
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Old 16.02.2011, 12:03
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Re: Frankenstein---the forgotten Swiss character

I am not a great fan of literature, but this got me looking.

I knew that Mary Shelley had a lot of connections with Switzerland, and also with Sussex in England where I live.

The name Frankenstein probably comes from Germany, though Mary Shelley is said to dispute this. See Wikepedia quote.

Quote:
Mary Shelley maintained that she derived the name "Frankenstein" from a dream-vision. Despite her public claims of originality, the significance of the name has been a source of speculation. Literally, in German, the name Frankenstein means "stone of the Franks, Franks' stone." The name is associated with various places in Germany, such as Castle Frankenstein (Burg Frankenstein) in Mühltal, Hesse, or Castle Frankenstein in Frankenstein, Palatinate. There is also a castle called Frankenstein in Bad Salzungen, Thuringia. Furthermore, there is a municipality called Frankenstein in Saxony, and before 1946, Ząbkowice Śląskie, a city in Silesia, Poland, was known as Frankenstein in Schlesien.
More recently, Radu Florescu, in his book In Search of Frankenstein, argued that Mary and Percy Shelley visited Castle Frankenstein on their way to Switzerland, near Darmstadt along the Rhine, where a notorious alchemist named Konrad Dippel had experimented with human bodies, but that Mary suppressed mentioning this visit, to maintain her public claim of originality. A recent literary essay by A.J. Day supports Florescu's position that Mary Shelley knew of, and visited Castle Frankenstein before writing her debut novel.
The German connection sounds more plausible to me. It is a fact that she travelled along the Rhine to Switzerland so even if she did 'dream' the name it could well have been in her subconcious.
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Old 16.02.2011, 12:44
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Re: Frankenstein---the forgotten Swiss character

She wrote it (or conceived it) while on holiday at lake Geneva.

Wikipedia reference-linkFrankenstein

Quote:
During the rainy summer of 1816, the "Year Without a Summer," the world was locked in a long cold volcanic winter caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815.[5] Mary Shelley, aged 18, and her lover (and later husband) Percy Bysshe Shelley, visited Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The weather was consistently too cold and dreary that summer to enjoy the outdoor holiday activities they had planned, so the group retired indoors until dawn.
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