Mary Shelley in Adaptations of Frankenstein
29 October 2020 @ 7:00pm Eastern / 10:00pm Pacific
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Mary Shelley began Frankenstein at the age of eighteen in the Summer of 1818 at the Villa Diodati on the shore of Lake Geneva. The events that shaped and inspired her most influential creation have been mythologized and dramatized ever since, most notably by Shelley herself in the Introduction to the 1831 edition of the novel ,wherein she details with all of the Gothic atmosphere the novel has come to resonate with, the events of that ghastly evening when she and her compatriots (poets Lord Byron and her future husband Percy Shelley, her step-sister Claire Claremont, and John Polidori—Byron’s physician and later the author of The Vampyre) took up a ghost-story contest. Shelley’s chronicle of this evening (written an auspicious thirteen years after that summer) turned this experience into a myth that has found a life of its own, one that has been dramatized and represented throughout fiction and film. This lecture will examine the events in the Villa Diodati that led to the creation of Frankenstein and the way those events have been depicted in fiction and films ranging from James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein, Ken Russell’s phantasmagoric hallucinatory Gothic, Roger Corman’s adaption of Brian Aldiss’s Frankenstein Unbound, and Haifaa al-Mansour’s biopic Mary Shelley, amongst others. It will examine the way in which Mary Shelley herself has become a figure of adaptation and how these usages of Shelley seek to shape our understanding of her monstrous creation and its deeper and darker meanings.
Presented by Jude Wright