"The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein"
It is of course obviously true that Frankenstein is a wonderful story, and I was
eager to see if I could extend it in other directions. It is a myth and a
history, an allegory and a nightmare. I wanted to see if it was possible to
maintain all those elements in a re-interpretation of the original text.
I had been greatly impressed by Mary Shelleys original, but I was eager to
tease out some of her assumptions and themes.
I had always been interested in the Romantic movement of English poetry, in the
early nineteenth century, and the story of Victor Frankenstein allowed me to
explore all the possible meanings of romantic in that context. This also meant
that I could discuss the worship of electricity and new science in the period.
But it also allowed me to introduce the real characters of Byron and others
into the plot. I wanted to set the story in London, as a way of re-imagining and
re-creating the nineteenth -century city. I also wanted to see if I could
recreate the language and texture of the period so that the reader would feel
connected in an intimate way with a culture and civilization that have now
In that I was greatly assisted by the fact that I wrote and presented a series
on BBC Television, entitled The Romantics, which allowed me to suggest the
lines of continuity between Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and of
course Mary Shelley herself. All of these people appear in the novel itself. I
was also helped by the fact that in the course of filming I went to all of the
sites that appear in the novel itself, particularly the Villa Diodati on the
shores of Lake Geneva where Mary Shelley had the original inspiration for her
novel. We spent one night filming there, and on the balcony of the house I had
an intimation of the novel I was about to write.
-- Peter Ackroyd