Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Frankenstein was the doctor.
I have here a copy of Kingsley Amis' The King's English: A Guide to Modern Usage. He has this to say of Frankenstein:
Frankenstein (brilliantly named) is the eponymous character in a Gothic romance written by Mary Shelly in the early eighteenth century. He makes something like a human being from bits of dead bodies and gives the result life. The creature is fundamentally good, but after much ill treatment from mankind becomes the instrument of Frankenstein's destruction.
In the early twentieth century, when science and technology seemed t be spreading at a great rate, it was natural for writers to look for images of human invention over-reaching itself. The Frankenstein myth was pressed into service, but in a simplified or garbled form whereby the name of Frankenstein became attached to the monster. Those who talked about the danger that humans would create a deadly Frankenstein were sternly and regularly rebuked for linguistic impropriety by such as Fowler.
After a time, whether as monster or creator, Frankenstein was no longer to be found in newspaper columns. Perhaps he had simply gone out of fashion. Or perhaps, the whole question of how to refer to him had been made too difficult or cumbersome to handle. If the latter, it was something of a triumph for the sticklers.
Here's some songs by people who couldn't care one way or the other.
And here's a quick tribute to Deathrace 2000.