Before Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, she and her family visited Germany, where they stayed near a Gothic castle called Frankenstein Castle. What was happening inside, namely the scientific excrement of the alchemist Johann Konrad Dippel, may have inspired the writer to create an immortal novel.
Frankenstein, or Modern Prometheus was written by Mary Shelley in the early 19th century. It is one of the most famous science fiction novels and has inspired many dramatic writers around the world. The novel tells the story of a young Victor Frankenstein, who conducts scientific research and knows some of the secrets of life. He decided to artificially create a living person in his laboratory, but in the end he gives rise to a monster. It wants to take revenge on the young scientist, because he created him as a monster without family and friends, and he has nothing but loneliness.
Mary Shelley's novel has many film adaptations, but there is not as much fiction in this story as we think. There are people obsessed with science and laboratory experiments who seek to create a "monster" in the hope that they will be the first to discover the secret of life. Below we will talk about real scientific experiments in which scientists tried to create a "monster".
1. Connection of electricity with life and "return from the next world"
In the second half of the 18th century, science in Europe was not so developed. If someone tells you today that he passes a current through the brain, you will not see anything strange in this, but at that time scientists did not yet know about the connection of electricity with the bodies of living organisms and the nervous system.
Just one day changed the life of the Italian scientist Luigi Galvani. He saw a dead frog show signs of life after one of his students passed an electric charge through it. Galvani decided that this was an unusual phenomenon that deserved to be studied. Why does a dead body twitch from electrical charges?
Galvani spent many years studying this phenomenon until he finally became convinced that electric charges that interact with metal objects are formed in a living organism, and he called it "animal electricity." Galvani could use some electrical charges to move the bodies of frogs and other dead animals, but he only experimented on animals, unlike his successor and relative, the Italian scientist Giovanni Aldini.
In 1803, the Italian scientist Giovanni Aldini, along with his students, conducted an experiment on the corpse of a prisoner named George Foster, who was sentenced to death. During the experiment, the limbs of the deceased moved due to electrical charges. Galvani's results formed the basis of Aldini's experiment, especially one where a scientist was able to make one of the legs of a dead frog bleed when he passed a current through it.
During the experiment, Aldini and his students noticed that when exposed to electrical charges, the jaw of the deceased criminal began to tremble, and one eye opened. George Foster seemed to come alive again. It is difficult to imagine what effect this had on the students who stood around this monster corpse.
But this terrible experiment later helped people think of the "electrical resuscitation" that we see in all modern medical series and films.
"Day of Horror" - the monster comes back to life in front of everyone
“All the muscles in his face were simultaneously set in a terrible movement; anger, horror, despair, melancholy and an eerie smile combined their hideous expressions on the murderer's face."
This is how a Scottish scientist named Andrew Ure described his experience of resurrecting the corpse of Matthew Clydesdale, who was sentenced to death in the early 19th century. But the uniqueness of his experience was that it happened in front of the audience, as if it were a simple theatrical performance.
At that time, some scientific experiments, especially the dissection of human corpses, were carried out in front of a group of interested spectators. After Yur passed electricity through the corpse of the dead killer, his limbs began to tremble and his eyelids began to move. He called this day “the day of horror”. Some viewers even fainted from severe shock.
2. Zombie industry in Russia
The head is detached from the body, but we see that it is still moving as if it were alive. This scene was shown in one of the science fiction films, but the Soviet scientist Sergei Bryukhonenko was able to translate it into reality at a scientific conference in 1920. He managed to revive the dog's head separated from the body in front of the astonished scientists.
Bryukhonenko conducted his experiments with a device that he called an "auto-light" (an apparatus for maintaining the activity of the heart and lungs). This device helped keep the dog's head alive when it was detached from the body. The auto-switch revived the entire head, brain and muzzle, pumping blood through the arteries and providing blood supply to the brain. The head reacted to stimuli as if it were alive. The dog blinked, moved its ears and stuck out its tongue, as if it was licking something, like an ordinary live dog.
You can watch a video of this experience, but be careful as the scene you see may seem intimidating to you. You will see the dog's head, separated from the body, move up and down as if it were alive. This is a real experience, not a movie scene. Are you ready to see her?
3. "Dippelevo oil" or the legend about the elixir of life
Before Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, she and her family traveled extensively throughout Europe. During one of these trips, Mary visited Germany, where she stayed near a Gothic castle called Frankenstein Castle.
Some scholars suggest that rumors reached her about an eccentric inventor who claimed to have discovered the "elixir of life." Mary was inspired by the name of the castle and the story of what happened there, but whether it is true or not, this scientist's story deserves to be told.
German alchemist Johann Konrad Dippel was famous for conducting strange scientific experiments at Frankenstein's castle.
Johann Dippel was born and raised in Frankenstein Castle. The scientific community started talking about him when he created "Dippelevo Oil", which, he claimed, was the elixir of life and cured all diseases: from colds to epilepsy. Dippelian oil was a mixture of animal blood and skins, crushed bones and ivory.
Dippel showed a great interest in anatomy, as well as in everything to be connected with the body and soul. In one of his books, he talked about trying to move a soul from one body to another using a funnel, hose and lubricant. He also claimed that he can live for over 135 years, as he knows all the secrets. Nevertheless, Dippel died at the age of 61, but according to rumors, his death was not natural. It is likely that he was killed by locals who did not like his experiments. They poisoned him and disposed of the body.
We don't know for sure if Mary Shelley knew about the events that preceded the publication of her novel, but one thing is clear for sure - using electricity to try to revive the dead was common in the scientific community at the time. It is possible that Shelley heard a lot of rumors and frightening stories, which formed the basis of her infinite novel.