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Animated Frankenstein face, cliff, and castle - 38K

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Michael Callis

The magic cube of Frankenstein

The Art and Legends


An evolving interactive research project.

"Frankenstein" - the very name sends chills down your spine. And yet a hundred years ago the poet Corrila equated the name Frankenstein with the mind of America. Before that, in the early nineteenth century, the name Frankenstein played an important role in the development of the romantic movement. Earlier still the name was a symbol of chivalry and inspired Grimm's tale about the dragon slayer from Frankenstein.


Frankenstein means literally the stone of the Franks. Around 500 A.D. the Franks took control of Gaul which was part of the Roman empire at that time. Included in their conquest was a Roman quarry in the vicinity of what is now Darmstadt, Germany. Knight Arbogast Von Frankenstein, a victorious fighter from that area, Frankenstein Castle - 7K is the earliest person known using this surname. In the thirteenth century a castle was erected for the Baron von Frankenstein and his knights near the site of the roman quarry. The history and the legends of the castle lie close to the roots of the romantic spirit that was responsible for all of the art and literature eventually associated with this name.

Sir George Frankenstein - 8KOne of the knights in the sixteenth century, Sir George Frankenstein, is known, according to legend, for sacrificing his life in combat. Carvings in the crypt where he is buried near the ruins depict him slaying a dragon under his feet. The dragon's tail, nevertheless, pierces the knight's armor, killing him. Before he died, however, he was able to save beautiful Annemarie, "The Rose of the Valley."

Another legendary figure was Johann Konrad Dippel [1673-1734] who was born in the castle. He studied Paracelsus and lived his life searching for knowledge as a wandering scholar and alchemist. He would sometimes sign his works "Frankensteina," and claimed to have the secret of the philosopher's stone, as well as the ability to create life.

By the late eighteenth century the castle had fallen into ruin, but it remained a symbol of its chivalrous past. Faust drinks the magic potion - 18K It was an inspiration for Johann Wolfgang Goethe, a poet, scientist, and founder of the Sturm and Drang movement, a precursor of German Romanticism. Goethe spent much of his life producing Faust, an epic poem about the quest for self-knowledge. Faust sells his soul to the devil in seeking the philosopher's stone and the secret of life and its creation. Goethe spent part of his youth near the Frankenstein Ruins and later read Faust in progress under the linden trees of the Frankenstein Ruins to a circle of friends from Darmstadt.

In 1814 Mary Shelley journeyed down the Rhine with her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, stopping in Mannheim near the ruins. The Frankenstein Ruins no doubt served as a magnet to travelers of their romantic temperaments and interest in legends. Whether she was exposed to the ruins at that time or through Goethe's Faust is not known, although she did name her novel published in 1818, Frankenstein. The novel features Victor Frankenstein, a student who creates an artificial man while exploring the secrets of life in his laboratory. Victor Frankenstein recoils from his creation, fearing that he has spawned a monster.

In 1831 a teacher named Johann Adam Tracht fled Darmstadt with his family in search of freedom of thought and expression. Upon arrival in America the family adopted the surname Frankenstein, a name well suited to their romantic aspirations. Two of his sons, George and Godfrey Frankenstein became well known artists.

Together they painted a 1000 foot by 8 foot panorama of Niagara Falls. Unrolled on stage to music and commentary it was hailed in Harper's Monthly Magazine in August 1853. It has been called the first motion picture. Inspired by the panorama, on the fourth of July, 1855, the poet Corrila rhapsodized about the artists in a poem ending:

"America, Niagara, Frankenstein-
Three names united in a kindred bond-
Glad freedom's home - her voice of Praise- her mind."

George Frankenstein is best known for his Civil War scenes. Lagonda Creek - 12K Godfrey Frankenstein painted outdoors in all kinds of weather throughout the seasons. His painting Lagonda Creek has been described as representing the "Emersonian Transparent Eyeball," the eye of inner man transcending the ego to view God's nature, in the surrounding landscape, and himself, as one.

 

Frankenstein Cliff and Trestle - 30K

Frankenstein Cliff and Trestle by Godfrey Frankenstein

Godfrey Frankenstein enjoyed the romantic setting of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, painting dramatic scenes of the rugged landscape. Dr. Bemis by Godfrey Frankenstein - 6K Frankenstein Cliff in Crawford Notch was named after Godfrey Frankenstein by Dr. Bemis who owned much land in the area. Dr. Bemis, like Dippel and Victor Frankenstein, was fascinated with technology. He invented artificial teeth, developed a new genetic strain of apples, and is credited with taking the first Daguerreotype landscape images, capturing scenes in the White Mountains.

The same rugged scenery inspired the American romantics Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Cole, Daniel Webster, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. In Sketches from Memory Hawthorne describes the area around Frankenstein Cliff:

Frankenstein Cliff - 12K"A demon it might be fancied or one of the Titans, was traveling up the valley elbowing the heights carelessly aside as he passed, till at length a great mountain took its stand directly across his intended road. He tarries not for such an obstacle but rendering it asunder a thousand feet from peak to base, discloses its treasures of hidden minerals, its guiless water, all the secrets of the mountain's innermost heart, with a mighty fracture of rugged precipices on each side. This is the Notch of the White Hills."

Today the name Frankenstein inspires fear, a fear aroused by the image of the Hollywood monster. The monster derives from the novel by Mary Shelley and is the result of man's tinkering with nature and his untamed desire to create and apply his knowledge. In the novel the monster's fictional creator, Victor Frankenstein, expresses a warning to those who would brave the limits to what is known:

"You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been." Frankenstein and Hiroshima - 9K

This icon of the serpent reaches back to the crypt of George Frankenstein and beyond, but its message applies today as fear of genetic engineering and nuclear holocaust symbolized by the image of the Frankenstein monster in the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.

These themes are explored in much greater depth in the CD-ROM Frankenstein The Art and Legends which also includes full screen images and extensive bibliographical references for all of the information above.

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Frankenstein

The Art and Legends

CD-ROM

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"Totally cool!" said the 14 year old girl looking at Frankenstein The Art and Legends, a hot new CD-ROM just released by Michael Callis. Adults and children are equally fascinated by the connections between art, literature, and scientific achievements that can be explored with this CD-ROM. The CD highlights links with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus.

This easy to use program will run on either Macintosh or Windows. Multiple controls including a page by page tour, hypertext, an index, an overview, and back up and review features let users chart their own journey through a wealth of information.

Who would have thought there was any connection between Frankenstein and the invention of photography or the legend of Saint George and the dragon? The CD-ROM ties together Frankenstein Cliff in the White Mountains, the ruins of a castle near Darmstadt, Germany, the American artists Godfrey and George Frankenstein, and the Frankenstein monster. Around these core topics are intriguing connections with such diverse figures as Captain John Smith, Goethe, and Louis XIV.

Each screen on this informational CD includes an illustration or painting. Zoom in on images ranging from an early stereoscopic view of the original Frankenstein trestle to crypts of the Frankenstein knights to paintings from the Civil War and Niagara Falls to the Frankenstein monster overlaid on the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.

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Review

As a library/media specialist of almost twenty years and an English teacher before that, I feel qualified to comment on the CD-ROM produced by MichaelCallis and Dennis Sullivan.

I found the product a strong motivational tool for further investigation of the Frankenstein legend and all of its related artistic areas.

When I introduced it to students in my media center and asked for critiques from them, the response was overwhelmingly positive from students at all levels. I would certainly incorporate this CD-ROM into our media center collection and would expect it to receive wide use by students and staff alike.

It has my strongest endorsement as a unique resource which touches virtually every discipline in our school curriculum.

Duke Southard, Media Supervisor
Kennett Junior Senior High School

 

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System Requirements

4MB RAM (8 recommended),
monitor with 256 color 640x480 display,
double-speed CD-ROM drive,
mouse or other pointing device.

Windows: Windows 3.1 or later,
33MHz 486 processor or better.

Macintosh: System 7.1 or later,
25MHz 68030 processor or better.

 

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CD-ROM Title: Frankenstein Art and Legends CD-ROM .

For comments or other information e-mail--> Michael Callis.

Or contact him at:

Michael Callis (Steinworks)

Route 153
Eaton Center, N.H. 03832 or Tel.# (603) 447-3662



Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or the Modern Promethius Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Frankenstein monster, Romantic Quest, American Art, CD-ROM Frankstein The Art and Legends Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or the Modern Promethius Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Frankenstein monster, Romantic Quest, American Art, CD-ROM Frankstein The Art and Legends Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or the Modern Promethius Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Frankenstein monster, Romantic Quest, American Art, CD-ROM Frankstein The Art and Legends Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or the Modern Promethius Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Frankenstein monster, Romantic Quest, American Art, CD-ROM Frankstein The Art and Legends

Copyright Michael Callis 2003