Who would win Dracula or Frankenstein?
"It's alive!" and yet out of print: Frankenstein, Dracula and the pitfalls of copyright
On Halloween they are brought out again: Frankenstein, his monster and Count Dracula
All three have their roots in the 19th century - not only in horror novels, but also in copyright law, which determines our cultural myths more than one would sometimes like to believe.
It begins, according to the most popular version and as it should be, on a stormy, thunderstorm night in June 1816. On that night in the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva, the two most famous monsters in literary and film history were born: Frankenstein's monster and the noble one Bloodsuckers, even if the vampire wasn't called Count Dracula then. Mary Shelley reports in her - not entirely reliable - preface to Frankenstein of it, and several films later contributed to the fact that we can imagine the illustrious self-awareness group: two poets, one (Percy Shelley) overstretched and out of balance, the other (Lord Byron) demonic-dominant with clubfoot; a blonde, spoilsport type, brooding and still to be shocked (Mary Godwin, later Shelley); a childish-stupid sex object (Claire Clairmont) and a fatty nothing (Dr. Polidori), as accessories in the background.
Seeing breasts and vampires
Byron, speaking in the prologue to James Whales Bride of Frankenstein referred to as "England's greatest sinner", had been examined for his mental state at the instigation of his wife after she heard that he was sleeping with his half-sister and / or other men. He came to Switzerland on the run from creditors and scandal stories. Mary Godwin lived "in sin" with Percy Shelley, who was married to someone else, dreamed of alternative ways of life (preferably in a mixture of harem and hippie commune) and got on far too well with her stepsister Claire for her liking. Claire was pregnant by Lord Byron, who had lost interest in her. Polidori believed that Percy slept with both Mary and Claire and was jealous of all three for wanting Lord Byron to himself.
To calm the minds, the doctor administered drugs: ether or laudanum for Percy, black drop (an opium compound) for Byron. It doesn't seem to have helped much. The best known incident, which, according to Polidori's diary, took place on June 18, was at midnight. While Lord Byron was reciting from "Christabel" (a haunted poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge), Percy suddenly ran out of the room screaming. When he had calmed down, he said that when he saw Mary he had a vision of a woman with eyes in place of the nipples. (Ken Russell has in Gothic the seeing breasts transplanted onto the body of Claire Clairmont.)
The idea that everyone should try their own ghost story already existed. One got in the mood by reading the texts in a work with the title Fantasmagoriana, a French translation of the first two volumes by Johann August Apels and Friedrich Launs Ghost book. Percy apparently wrote down the beginning of a tale that has survived as little as what Claire came up with. Byron wrested at least a few pages about the mysterious Augustus Darvell, who visits the ruins of Ephesus and tries to hide his imminent death with the help of a traveling companion. Polidori inspired this fragment for a story in which Darvell becomes Lord Ruthven, who travels through Europe as a death-bringing lover and ends up suckling the narrator's sister. The vampire Lord Ruthven could only mean one. In May 1816 was the roman clef Glenarvon launched by Lady Caroline Lamb. In better days, Byron's ex-lover had sent the Lord pubic hair and detailed descriptions of how she had cut it off. By now she thought she still had an account to be taken. In the novel, she had Byron appear as the demonic Clarence de Ruthven, Lord Glenarvon.
Posterity was not very kind to Polidori. Mostly he is described as Timothy Spall in Gothic embodied: as a plump buffoon. The meanest thing is the Spanish film Remando al viento ("Rowing with the Wind", 1988), with whose cast everything went wrong that could go wrong. Hugh Grant plays a hair-dryer Lord Byron who, in his most demonic moment, tells Elizabeth Hurley (as Claire Clairmont), who was still quite chubby at the time, to undress. Polidori is a wrinkled masochist in his 40s who scratches like a dog on Mary Shelley's door and hangs himself when he is not allowed into her bed. The real Polidori was a handsome young man (19 years old) and there were times when he was mistaken for Lord Byron. He went down in literary history as "poor Polly" - Byron's quick-tempered personal physician who never succeeded. That is most unjust.
Polidori succeeded in doing something fundamentally new with his story. Vampires were mostly known in Romantic England from a book by Dom Augustin Calmet from 1746. The revenants (more than 500 documented cases) reported by the French Bible scholar had something unsavory. They were bloated and foul-smelling, attacked neighbors, relatives and, if necessary, their cows and were fought by being taken from their graves, smeared with their blood, broken their teeth, sucked on their gums, staked and cut off their heads. The fact that Calmets vampires, very close to their home country, roamed remote villages in Eastern Europe and were all of rural origin, was not very edifying for an educated reading public.
Polidori described his vampire as the public imagined Lord Byron to be: an aristocratic seducer, as attractive as it is terrifying, restless and without local fixation. He replaced stables and dung heaps with the salons of high society, sent Ruthven on a gentlemanly tour of Europe and awarded him a title of nobility, thereby telling the story of everyone's favorite conflict gothic novels equipped: the resentment of the bourgeoisie towards the aristocracy. The "poor Polidori" can therefore claim to have created the forefather of a vampire family whose genealogy is via J. M. Rymers Varney the Vampire (1847), Joseph Sheridan Le Fanus Carmilla (1872) and Bram Stokers Dracula (1897) to Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee. Not bad for someone who has always failed.
Frankenstein in three volumes
During the storytelling competition, Mary Godwin came up with the idea of having her hero create an artificial human being. In mid-June she began working on a short story-length story. In the autumn of 1816 she decided to develop the novella into a novel. Contrary to rumors to the contrary, the book is their creation, even if Percy Shelley, who was often thought to be the real author, especially in the 19th century, made an important contribution. He did the editing. Mary accepted most (but not all) of his corrections, and usually they were actually improvements (stylistic, orthographic, more precise descriptions). One does not have to speculate too much about Percy's influence because nine tenths of Mary's original handwritten manuscript, with the corrections, have been preserved (kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford). Some of the changes were made at the expense of legibility. Mary wrote more colloquially than Percy, who was prone to pompous prose.
According to Mary Shelley's diary (her name was no longer Godwin because she married Percy after his first wife's suicide), she finished the fair copy of the revised manuscript on May 13, 1817. First wanted Frankenstein none have. The rejections probably had less to do with the literary quality of the novel than with commercial considerations. The majority of the readers who decided the success or failure of respected publishers were conservative to reactionary; Frankenstein was tricky, both politically and religiously. Less respected was the London publishing house Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones, where the novel was finally accepted for publication (in August 1817). Lackington specialized in non-fiction books on occultism, sensational novels and selling off remaining editions from other publishers. Percy therefore wrote in his (anonymous) introduction to the first edition that the novel was "free of the weaknesses of a mere ghost or magic story". As a fee, he negotiated a share of the net profit (one third). That was a real writing contract. Despite the somewhat disreputable publisher her book would come out with, Mary had every reason to be proud.
The book was published in January 1818 - anonymously, which was quite common at the time (that offered a certain protection against criminal prosecution and defamation suits), and in an edition of 500 copies. Mary originally wrote a two-volume novel, and for good reason: it's too short to be three volumes. Nevertheless, it was published as a three-volume edition, with 23 chapters instead of the 33 of the manuscript. That happened at the urging of the publisher. Mary and Percy made the necessary changes rather listlessly, doing them like a chore. Fewer chapters result in a different rhythm of reading. The manuscript reads faster. The chapter beginnings and chapter ends in the manuscript are used more to make the story more dramatic and to emphasize thematic focuses.
Volume II begins with the monster telling its story; in the book edition this story begins with the third chapter of volume II and thus loses its prominent position. Sometimes the Shelleys would make one of two chapters, others would split them in the middle. That seems arbitrary. Chapter 13, Volume II of the manuscript ends with the monster's threat to visit Victor on his wedding night: "I shall be with you on your marriage night." This is one of the defining moments in the novel, and a real cliffhanger in the manuscript. In the book, the sentence comes somewhere in the third chapter of Volume III. To stretch the novel into three volumes, there was very little text per page and few pages per volume.
The English Volume (Band) is to be taken quite literally. The triple decker, the novel in three volumes, was the standard format of romanticism. The individual volumes of Frankenstein were, as was customary in 1818, delivered with a temporary thread or adhesive binding, with an unadorned blue or gray dust jacket comparable to today's craft paper (with Frankenstein it was gray). With a retail price of 16½ schillings for the three volumes, the novel was not exactly cheap. If you bought a book, you usually didn't take it home straight away, but had it properly bound first. Depending on the quality and design (full or half leather, sheepskin, calfskin or saffiano leather, decorations, an embossed family coat of arms, etc.) this cost between one and 55 schillings per volume in 1818. When binding, the labels with the printed price, the advertising for other titles of the publisher and all other references to the merchandise character of the book were removed. This maintained the fiction that books were read by people who didn't have to worry about money. The price was also rarely given in reviews.
Transferring such prices to today's conditions is difficult. But one can say that a large part of the population was excluded from buying books because there are reliable figures on the earnings of various professional groups. A well-off, but not very well-off, upper-middle-class gentleman could expect a weekly income of around five pounds (100 shillings). Average earning priests, doctors, merchants and journalists got 50 to 100 schillings a week. The printer that Frankenstein had made, received between 35 and 40 shillings a week. He was already paying almost half that weekly wage for the book. The novel was completely unaffordable for the employees of the bookstores where it was sold.
There were practically no publicly accessible, free libraries. Those who read books but couldn't or didn't want to buy one had to rely on book clubs and lending libraries. The Hookham Publishing Bookstore That Frankenstein Had refused in 1817 and ran a lending library for the better-off in London's Bond Street, it offered a flat rate like today's video libraries: For a membership fee of 42 shillings per year, you could borrow one book, and when you returned you received the next.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are lending libraries with an annual fee of 14 schillings and less. It was still way too expensive for most Brits. Those who borrowed books, passed them on and were caught doing so did not have to go to jail like the video pirate in the intimidation spots of the film industry, but still face fines of 10 shillings and more. Around half of an average book circulation went to the lending libraries. That made them an important economic factor. And the libraries liked the triple decker because each volume was loaned out individually, so you could satisfy more customers at the same time without having to buy more copies of a novel. So the threat of the monster turned from the cliffhanger to a sentence buried in the middle of the chapter.
Bestsellers, slow-moving companies and publishers
Polidori, Byron's now fired personal physician, had forgotten his vampire story in Geneva in 1818. From there the manuscript somehow got to London to the publisher Henry Colburn, who was on the verge of bankruptcy. He printed "The Vampyre" in his New Monthly Magazine (April 1, 1819) and gave the impression that the story came from Lord Byron. When Polidori found out about this, he sent a letter of protest without consequences.
There were a few vague rules for publishing in magazines, but in practice there were no copyright provisions. Colburn only had to worry when the text appeared in book form, because books were copyrighted. He held out the real author for the time being. In the second edition of the book, Polidori was named. The title page now read: "The Vampire; a story told by Dr. Polidori by Lord Byron". His claim to authorship was put into perspective again. All other editions appeared anonymously or were ascribed to Byron. Colburn did not want to spoil his own business by naming the unknown Polidori as the author.
As of late 1819 Ernestus Berchtold was published, Polidori's contribution to the storytelling competition in the Villa Diodati, expanded into a novel, tried to take matters into his own hands. In a footnote to the introduction, he briefly summarized how "The Vampyre" came about. Hardly anyone took notice of the footnote. Of Ernestus Berchtold 199 copies were sold. In 1820, the Polidori publishing house offered the rest of the edition at a discount price. Meanwhile, Goethe declared "The Vampyre" to be the best that Lord Byron had ever written. Polidori was fobbed off with £ 30 after further disputes. Colburn speculated that he would shy away from the cost of a lawsuit, and he was right.
"The Vampyre" was a sensational success, made Colburn a rich man and was the basis for that New Monthly Magazine Developed from the deficit monthly to the most important English magazine for horror literature of the 1820s and 1830s. In 1819 alone two reprints of the New Monthly with "The Vampyre", three book editions using Colburn's printing plates and a newly set pirated print. The first dramatization premiered in Paris in June 1820. On the Parisian stages this triggered a real vampire mania (background of Anne Rice's novel Interview With the Vampire and Neil Jordan's film adaptation of the same name), which spilled over to England in August 1820.
Different from "The Vampyre" was Frankenstein not an immediately sold out bestseller, even if it is often claimed. This is often derived from the fact that the publisher sent the accounts as early as January 1818, but it is not only incorrect because 500 printed copies cannot result in a bestseller (for comparison: Walter Scotts Rob Roy appeared in 1817 in a first edition of 10,000 copies). Lackington's business model was simple. The publisher published books with a low circulation (500 to 750 copies), which were delivered immediately. This saved storage costs and passed the risk on to others because slow-moving items could not be returned. A publishing house for "junk literature" always had to expect a visit from the police. In such a case, the police did not find anything to confiscate because it had long since been delivered.
A second edition was generally not printed at Lackington. So it stayed at 500 copies of Frankenstein. How often the novel was borrowed before the provisionally bound books fell apart and how long it took the booksellers to actually sell the copies they had ordered is not known.According to the publisher's accounts, 41 copies of Frankenstein given away (includes the author's and reviewer's copies), the other 459 sold. Mary Shelley's share of the profit was 833.8 shillings.
From the book to the stage: everything was just stolen
In August 1823, after five restless years on the continent, Mary Shelley returned to London as a widow (Percy had drowned in a boat accident in 1822). The evening before her 26th birthday, on August 29th, she was sitting in the English Opera House and watched a play of about an hour with music. The title of the piece: Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein. "But lo and behold! I found myself famous!" She wrote to a friend afterwards. The theater had space for about 1,500 visitors and was mostly sold out. After just a few days, the play had more viewers than the book had readers. The hero of the novel and his monster, invented by Mary Shelley, found their way into popular culture. In some newspaper reports, Mary has been identified as the author.
The English Opera House had an English adaptation of the successful French play Le Vampire (after Polidori's "The Vampyre") already made a lot of money. Now the management tried it with the other monster from Villa Diodati. As was customary at the time, no one obtained any rights, no one spoke to the author, and Mary did not receive a penny. It was perfectly legal. Theater plays were only protected by copyright in writing and could not be reprinted without permission. There was no copyright in performances. It was not until 1833 that publishing houses were given a law to determine the staging of plays they had published.
There was still no protection in that law for novelists like Mary Shelley whose intellectual property someone wanted to bring on the stage. Whoever dramatized a novel didn't have to worry about copyright law. And almost everything that was available as a book was dramatized. Specialists adapted in series, one book after the other. Charles Dickens hated to watch helplessly as his novels were hacked up.
In Nicholas Nickleby (Chapter 48) he caricatures a "literary gentleman" who "in his day dramatized 247 novels immediately after their publication and some of them even before their publication". The role models for this gentleman were R.B. Peake and H.M. Milner. Both also made dramatizations of Frankenstein here. With Another piece of presumption Peake parodied himself before others could do it.
Since 1737 there was a rule that only a few British theaters - Covent Garden and the Drury Lane Theater in London, a few stages in other cities - were allowed to perform spoken pieces. The spoken theater was considered particularly dangerous. If there were only a few stages, they were easier to control. The licensed theaters had to pay high taxes for their privilege. This drove up admission prices as well as the artificially scarce supply and the lack of competition. That was quite desirable. In the few theaters whose subversive effect the authorities feared sat the upper classes: that is, those who benefited most from the existing conditions. The others stayed outside because they couldn't afford to enter.
As almost always in such cases, the legal regulations have been softened over the years. Those who did not have a theater license were still allowed to do theater. But it had to be an opera, a Singspiel or a pantomime. In Mary Shelley's time there were many productions in which vocal numbers were inserted to comply with regulations. This explains why so many 19th century Frankenstein adaptations were sung. This was done to avoid problems with Lord Chamberlain's Office (the censorship authority) and not because every theater producer was of the opinion that Mary Shelley's novel could only provide the material for an operetta. The Lord Chamberlain checked whether the author of a piece was pretending to be an opera by adding enough music, but he also examined the ideological content, both politically and religiously. The resistance in Mary Shelley's novel had little chance of being transferred to the stage under these conditions.
Much was different then than it is today, but some not. A group of particularly righteous people who called themselves "Friends of Mankind" demonstrated in front of the Opera House, although they did not know the novel or the play. The "Society for the Suppression of Vice" launched a leaflet campaign warning against an immoral tendency in the novel and in attending the performance. The campaign only boosted ticket sales. In Birmingham, the operator of the Theater Royal came up with the idea for his production of Presumption Organize the protest yourself and write the leaflets to increase public interest.
The production, however, was not a good star. There wasn't enough white canvas for the avalanche planned for the end. They made do with an elephant painted white that was left over from another performance. The elephant was supposed to be rolled across the stage at the crucial moment ("An avalanche! An avalanche!"), But brought the scenery to the ground and had to be removed quickly due to the risk of fire (by supporting actors dressed in green), while Frankenstein and his creature himself was left to die in other ways.
The monster falls silent
Had the "Friends of Humanity" also seen the play, they might have saved the moral indignation for another opportunity. The title says it all. The hero is known for his presumptuousness (presumption) held accountable for wanting to question the divine order. R.B. Peake had turned Mary Shelley's complex and ambiguous novel into a simple, moralistic allegory.
Mary Shelley had deliberately avoided the all too familiar set pieces of the horror novel. With her, Frankenstein tinkers with his creature in a simple attic room. Peake grants him a laboratory in a castle-like house. In order to save the money for the laboratory equipment and expensive decorations (and also because the presentation of the place of procreation would have led to problems with the censorship), the servant Fritz is invented. Frankenstein's first laboratory assistant describes what he sees through a window, that is the cheapest.
A lot from Presumption later returned in the films (and the on Presumption following plays) again. The emphasis on the romantic and romantic aspects. The sinister laboratory. The servant Fritz. A gypsy camp. Frankenstein's hysterical calls when the creature comes to life (here: "It lives! It lives!" And not "It's alive!" As with James Whale). A monster that shows a strong affinity for melodic music that breaks through doors or windows with a loud bang and that enters the Virgin's room through a balcony door.
According to the stage conventions of that time, the story is greatly simplified. The scientific background of the novel is replaced by alchemy and all kinds of hocus-pocus. Simple moral maxims are presented at key points. Those who have not been eliminated from the characters in the novel find themselves as melodramatic types. There is the (fallen) hero, the villain, the persecuted innocence, the weird peasant of the lower class and so on.
Walter Scott had a very positive review in 1818 Frankenstein written (he thought Percy Shelley was the author), but criticized that the monster was talking. Since Mary Shelley had no say, she couldn't prevent Peake from undoing one of her most revolutionary inventions. He stole the monster's speech. The actor T.P. Cooke was therefore dependent on exaggerated facial expressions and gestures. The dramatization professional Peake silenced the creature for very pragmatic reasons: the gesticulation could be declared to the censor as a pantomime and not part of spoken theater, and that helped with the issue of the license. It stayed that way because hardly anyone knew the novel. The silent monster had become so used to the 1930s that Boris Karloff thought it was a grave mistake when he in Bride of Frankenstein should say a few words.
In 1826 15 different dramatizations of the Frankenstein material were played, on both sides of the English Channel. The success of the play also sparked new interest in the novel. Less than a month after the premiere of Presumption brought G. & W.B. Whittaker released a "New Edition" of Frankenstein on the market, this time in two volumes. The book has been repositioned, with a total of 123 word changes. The circulation was again low: 500 copies, possibly only 250. With a sales price of 14 schillings, the novel remained very expensive. William St. Clair has one London Catalog of Books from 1835, in which it is still on sale (at full price). So the book was still not a best seller.
Small changes to the copyright: Frankenstein as a standard novel
In 1710, Great Britain passed a law whereby the act of writing gave an author a copyright to his work. He was able to transfer this right to a publisher for a period of 14 years. If the author was still alive afterwards, an extension for a further 14 years was possible. Then the copyright expired. This does not include intellectual property created before 1710, for which the old, unlimited protection provisions were to apply until 1731. That was the theory. In practice, the transitional arrangement meant that the law was largely ignored. The publishers kept a perpetual copyright to the texts they printed, both old and new. Just like before 1710.
The House of Lords in the British Parliament felt responsible for such matters. People like to take their time there. After all, as early as 1774, the House of Lords found that unlimited copyright had been illegal since 1710. From then on there was more competition in the book market. The prices for works that became free of rights after 14 or a maximum of 28 years fell; for most books protected by copyright, they rose sharply. Between 1808 and 1842 further laws were passed that gradually extended the copyright.
In the early 1830s, at a time of frequent changes and sometimes contradicting transition periods, the publisher Richard Bentley had an idea. Bentley had been the partner of Henry Colburn since 1829, who was Dr. Polidori had stolen "The Vampyre". With him, however, everything was completely legal. For little money he bought the rights to works by important authors that were no longer in print and whose copyright was about to expire. A new book came out every few weeks. Instead of the old triple decker, Bentley produced single-volume, linen-bound editions with a frontispiece.
The price of a three-volume novel had risen to 31 shillings and sixpences or even more by the 1820s. Bentley initially charged six shillings for its single-volume editions (over the years the price dropped to two shillings and sixpence). For many interested people that was still half a week's wage. But it was less than a fifth of what a new release cost.
Who in the row Bentley’s standard novels wanted to be included, had to revise the respective novel. When a writer declined, or when the writer had already died like Jane Austen, Bentley would ask a relative to contribute personal memoirs. If necessary, he provided someone to make changes. But changes or extended texts had to be made because that gave him the pretext to claim a new copyright. That wasn't necessarily covered by the law. However, there was a tacit agreement among publishers to respect such claims.
Within a few years, Bentley owned the rights to almost every major romantic novel - or at least what we believe to be. Chances are there wouldn't be any Jane Austen films today, either Emma still Pride and Prejudice also not Sense and Sensibilityif Bentley hadn't reissued Austen's little-known novels. Perhaps by doing this he saved her for posterity. James Hoggs Confessions of a Justified Sinner did not appear in the Standard novels, fell into oblivion and was only rediscovered in the 20th century. Nobody knows for sure whether that means that nothing important will be lost in the long term, or whether there were large works in small editions that we have lost.
Frankenstein appeared in 1831 as volume 9 of the Standard novels, in an edition of 3500 copies. Mary Shelley wrote an introduction that was reprinted with Percy's old Foreword to the 1818 edition. In this introduction she claims that she has only marginally revised the novel. That is a whisper. Her memories of life with Percy were now nostalgic. Victor Frankenstein, who is modeled after Percy, is in the version of 1831 more noble and less responsible for the catastrophe than before. Above all, the political and religious implications of the novel have been greatly reduced. There were good reasons for that.
The vitalism dispute
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, electricity was one of the most exciting things you could imagine. Back then, researchers built huge batteries and began electrifying dead bodies. One of those who believed that electricity was the source of all life was Giovanni Aldini, a professor from Bologna. On January 17, 1803, he carried out a sensational experiment in London. He connected the body of the women murderer Thomas Forster, who had been hanged six hours earlier, with a galvanic machine, then he switched on the electricity. The correspondent of the Annual Register (February 1803) described the event as follows:
When the process was first used on the face, the late criminal's jaw began to tremble and the muscles around it contracted terribly, and one eye actually opened. In the further course of the experiment the right hand was raised and clenched into a fist, and the legs and thighs were set in motion, and it appeared to all bystanders as if the wretched person would be brought back to life at any moment.
It is not far from there to Colin Clive and Peter Cushing, who do the same thing in the Frankenstein films as Aldini did in London in 1803 (only with a test object composed of body parts, for which there are also historical models).
When Aldini was expelled from the country in 1805, he had long since found imitators. In Leicester Square in London - where the big world premiere cinemas are today - you could buy a galvanic apparatus and then do experiments yourself, mostly with frogs, dogs or cats. Ten years later, what could be done with electricity caused a dispute among scientists.
On the one hand, the spokesman was John Abernethy, surgeon and professor of anatomy. Abernethy was a pious person and endeavored to reconcile the religious and the secular viewpoints. For him there was a subtle, invisible substance comparable to electricity (the "life force") that was added to bodies from outside (i.e. by God). Abernethy's opponent was named William Lawrence, like this professor at the Royal College of Surgeons. In his lectures he stated that, despite all observations on developing life and the long-term search for the vital spark, nature had never been caught red-handed. In animals, however, one has observed how they participate in the development of their conspecifics. In short: the origin of living beings is their parents. There was no room for God and the soul in this explanatory model.
The "vitalism dispute" was initially only carried out in a small circle, within the scientific community (and with increasing severity). Mary Shelley was well informed because Lawrence was her and Percy's general practitioner and discussed scientific issues with the two of them. Much of Abernethy and Lawrence can be found in Krempe and Waldman, the teachers of Victor Frankenstein at the University of Ingolstadt. In 1819 Lawrence published his major work, which is now considered to be one of the early writings on the theory of evolution: The Natural History of Man.
Mary and Percy Shelley probably knew the essential statements beforehand, during the time of Frankensteinbecause the author's revised lectures are gathered in the book. Lawrence advocates freedom of expression for the scientist, without censorship by church or state, is against "intellectual fogging", "absurd fables" and the confusion of religion and science when it comes to the nature of life: "Theological doctrine the soul, and its separate existence, has nothing to do with this physiological question. [...] An immaterial and spiritual being could not have been discovered in the midst of the blood and filth of the dissecting room. "
So far, Lawrence had been able to advance his provocative theses relatively unscathed, although he was already accused of betraying his teacher and patron Abernethy, of ingratitude and of atheism. After the Natural History of Man took the Quarterly Review his, where in 1818 the first discussion of Frankenstein had appeared. In this magazine, the books classified as important were presented to a broader public and interpreted with a semi-academic claim, from the point of view of the educated Anglicans and within the framework of the English two-party system.
Until the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the emergence of new, competing magazines, the dominant role was Quarterly Review been completely unchallenged in the cultural life of England. Now a reflection on traditional values should secure the supremacy that was in danger. A campaign against the enemies of morality could do no harm.
Censorship in the service of freedom of expression
To shake up the readership, progressives from the most diverse areas were brought to a common denominator: that of godlessness and political subversion. The pattern was always the same. First they denounced, then called for censorship (especially for what was generally understood) and a stricter application of the blasphemy laws. The Review took to the field against Spenceanism, an agrarian forerunner of communism, against parodies of religious texts and against publishers like Richard Carlile (a friend of Mary Shelley's father William Godwin), the Thomas Paines The Age of Reason had published. In November 1819 it was William Lawrence's turn.
The devastating review of his book begins with a detailed account of the vitalism controversy since 1814 (and for the first time confronted a larger audience with the teachings of the early theory of evolution). The main culprit is identified as the materialist Lawrence, who turns out to be a Judas, plagiarist and charlatan indoctrinated by German models. Xenophobia cannot be ignored: there is humane and pious English science on the one hand, and cruel, inhuman and atheistic science that comes from abroad (Germany and revolutionary France) on the other. Lawrence, writes the reviewer (and thus anticipates the debate about Charles Darwin's theory of evolution that took place 40 years later), claims that humans do not differ from orangutans in their essential characteristics. After further personal accusations, the Royal College of Surgeons is asked to force its unworthy professor to delete all offensive passages and to issue a cease and desist statement, and to fire him if necessary.
The Royal Surgeons responded promptly. Lawrence was temporarily suspended and had to withdraw not only the incriminated passages, but the entire book. But that was more difficult than expected, because the censorship often goes strange ways. In 1817 the chief censor, Lord Chamberlain, had ruled that the author of a blasphemous, seditious, or immoral work was not protected by copyright (a matter that Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and their heirs also grappled with). In 1822 Richard Carlile brought the Natural History of Man as a pirated print out. Lawrence tried to enforce his copyright and have the book taken off the market. He was turned away. Carlile successfully asserted that the work was anti-religious. It stayed in print - because it had been declared blasphemous. Carlile's edition had nine editions.
In 1819, when the vitalism controversy escalated, many had from Frankenstein heard, but few had read the book. Some of the ideas in the novel were so new that they had not reached a wider audience when it appeared. That changed in the 1820s. The loud dispute over evolution, souls and the principle of life, as well as the legal disputes over the Natural history attracted more attention to the debates among scientists. This increased the number of those who were able to decipher what was initially only understandable to a few initiates.
Frankenstein in the version of 1818 offered the latest news from the world of science. In 1831, Mary Shelley softened much of what was directly related to the vitalism controversy - in the spirit of the establishment. This can be explained with changed beliefs (like Lawrence, later a doctor to Queen Victoria, she became more and more conservative throughout her life). But it also protected them from prosecution. People like Carlile have been sent to jail for blasphemy. And in the Standard novels appeared Frankenstein no longer anonymous, but with Mary Shelley's name on the title page.
Frankenstein in the clutches of copyright law
In today's standard contracts there is a passage on plant maintenance. The publisher undertakes to keep a title available. If he does not comply, the author can reclaim the rights. There was no such thing in the 19th century. Bentley bought the copyrights from Mary Shelley with a one-off payment of £ 30 and was able to go along with it Frankenstein do what he wanted. The documents in the British Library's Bentley Archives show that the fourth edition of the novel was published in 1839, with a total of 5250 copies now. In 1833 a pirated print with a print run of probably 1,000 copies came out in the USA, whereas Bentley had no control (and Mary Shelley anyway) because there was no internationally enforceable copyright. The British Parliament was only authorized in 1844 to negotiate with other states - initially only with European - mutually recognized regulations. (The US only entered an international agreement in 1891.)
Bentley used the same printing plates every time. These plates wore out, and some were soon in such bad shape that they had to be repaired at least occasionally. Errors could creep in. Each edition of Frankenstein was worse to read than the previous one. This is annoying for writers.
For the first few years, Mary Shelley was comforted by the fact that Bentley kept her novel available at a relatively cheap price and that it made it possible in the first place to find new readers. But in 1838, William Hazlitt Junior approached her. Hazlitt was one of those publishers who made books using modern techniques that were also used to print newspapers. Also, because the high-tax paper was cheaper and he was putting as much text as possible on the page, he was able to get books in stores at a fraction of what it was Bentley’s standard novels cost (in 1838 the unit price had fallen to five or perhaps three shillings and sixpences).
Hazlitt had started his own series, which he The Romancist and Novelist’s Library. The Best Works by the Best Authors called. He wanted there too Frankenstein release. Bentley strictly refused. According to the status of 1838, he could expect to have the copyright until at least 1846 (1818 + 28 years), and as long as his competitors accepted the new copyright claimed after the changes of 1831 even until 1859 (1831 + 28 years). With the help of his monopoly he defended a price level that was still relatively cheap compared to the old triple deckers, compared to Hazlitts Romancist Library but was very high. Hazlitt sold novels in newspaper format and at newspaper price. In 1840, in the preface to one of his editions, he boasted that in three years he had published 121 literary works with a total of 3,572,400 words. That corresponds to 65 conventional volumes, the piece to 31 shillings and sixpence. All of this cost his customers no more than 13 shillings.
Bentley not only prevented Mary Shelley from having any more money with her Frankenstein earned. It also blocked the way for her and other romantic authors to reach completely new, broader groups of readers who could not afford a normal book, not even them Standard novels. In 1842 the copyright was changed again. For Bentley, that meant he had the rights Frankenstein would last even longer than before (another 28 years after the author's death or, if that was longer, another 42 years from first publication). Other episodes weren't so pleasant.
The Standard novels were characterized by a high literary quality. In order to be able to continue the series, Bentley still needed authors and publishers who were willing to sell him cheaply a copyright that was soon to expire. In view of the extended copyright periods, that was no longer the case. Bentley was forced to be less choosy. The volumes that were added from 1842 onwards no longer had the level of Standard novels from the past. Mary Shelley had to put up with that Frankenstein appeared in a series that was losing prestige, in an edition that most readers could not afford, and in copies that were printed worse with each edition.
In 1847 the price became the FrankensteinOutput in Bentley’s standard novels Reduced for the last time, from initially six shillings to two shillings and sixpence. In 1849 the publisher had the fifth and final edition printed, with 1,000 copies. In the first 40 years of its existence, the novel came to 7,000 to 8,000 copies in Great Britain. Jane Austen wasn't much more successful either. But Walter Scott or Lord Byron had sold more books in the first week after a new work was published. How long it took for the fifth Bentley to go over the counter is not known. It was probably only antiquarian for a long time when Frankenstein 1855 in the Parlor Library published by Hodgson Verlag (text from 1831, with the forewords from 1818 and 1831, at the price of one shilling or one shilling and sixpence for the hardback edition, edition unknown). That should have been a pirated print. Bentley didn't want to give book rights to other publishers.
In a novel as famous as Frankenstein, you think that it was definitely always available. You can often read it like that. But this is a mistake. It is unknown why Bentley stopped lowering the last sales price of two and a half shillings per volume even though the competition was selling their books much cheaper. Demand dropped dramatically in the 1850s. That was the end of Bentley’s standard novels. According to an inventory list from 1861 in the Bentley archive, the printing plates had already melted down (and probably sold to a scrap dealer for the material value).
Was during much of the 1850s Frankenstein out of print. There were no new editions in the 1860s and 1870s either. That was the time when books became affordable for people on low incomes and found completely new readers. Frankenstein This was denied for 25 years because Bentley and his successors were still the rights holders, no longer printed or sold the novel, but were also unwilling to give others the opportunity to do so.
Intellectual Property Protection: Risks and Side Effects
Copyright has its pitfalls: for example, when it is geared too much towards business interests. In the decades when the novel was out of print, the theater adaptations kept the memory of the material alive - in other words, versions of the story that only existed because the theater didn't have to worry about copyrights. If you think about that further, the possibility cannot be ruled out that Frankenstein today would belong to the forgotten, long no longer printed works of world literature, if there had been a protection of the intellectual property of novelists in the case of stage adaptations. Since the book was difficult to find, most of the editors did not go back to the starting point, but adapted one or more of the existing adaptations, often also available in print. So the stage versions moved further and further away from the source. That, too, was a consequence of the copyright laws and Bentley's blockade policy.
Mary Shelley could not personally experience a wider distribution of her novel, because this only became possible when Bentley lost its copyright. For that she had to be dead. That was what copyright law wanted. She died in 1851. In 1879 (1851 + 28) the copyright clearly expired. Benefited three years later Frankenstein finally from the new publication possibilities. From 1882 onwards, Routledge published various editions, of which the first edition (unit price three pence, bound sixpence) produced more copies than anything that had previously been printed put together. Reached until 1899 Frankenstein at Routledge alone a total print run of at least 40,000 copies.
The publisher brought Dicks Frankenstein 1883 in his English Library of Standard Works published as a booklet in four weekly parts and together with six other novels and 48 stories in a paperback. In 1893 an abridged version appeared as "Penny Popular Novel" in the Masterpiece Library. "Late 19th century," writes William St. Clair, "80 years after it was first published Frankenstein finally accessible to the whole reading nation. "
Only: which one Frankenstein? Personally, I prefer the version from 1818. She is more cheeky, more provocative, is more likely to judge social inequality, and Victor's bride Elizabeth is not yet the "angel of the family" based on the Victorian ideal of women. But for the first hundred years after the rights expired, almost only the version from 1831 could be read. 28 years after Mary Shelley's death, there were hardly any copies of the first edition left. As a matter of course, the publishers reprinted the version from 1831, of which the author herself claimed in the preface that she had only made a few stylistic improvements compared to the earlier version. In 1912 the version from 1831 appeared in the Everyman's Library the publishers Dent (London) and Dutton (New York). For decades this was the standard edition in English-speaking countries.
Possibly the first film adaptation of Frankenstein in 1910, although a financial failure, helped bring Mary Shelley's work into the Everyman's Library has been recorded. The Universal-Produktion of 1931 with Boris Karloff had a greater influence on the publication history of the novel. James Whale's box office hit sparked many new editions. The book for the film was published by Grosset & Dunlap as a "Photoplay Edition" (with still photos). This edition only contains Percy Shelley's (anonymous) foreword to the version from 1818, but then brings the text from 1831, which was revised by Mary Shelley. This also did not create awareness that there are two different versions. Presumably, Grosset & Dunlap had no idea any more of this than the competition.
It was not until 1974 that James Rieger published a scientifically commented (and very expensive) edition of the novel in the 1818 version. In 1982 the paperback edition followed, which now also reached a larger readership. Since then, English-language editions have included a note as to whether the text is from 1818 or 1831, and in most cases this information is even correct. Only in Germany did it take a little longer.
One of the Everyman-Bücher (version from 1831) probably used Heinz Widtmann, who got the first German translation in 1912. In 1948 Johannes Angelus Keune published a translation by Elisabeth Lacroix based on the 1818 version. It was probably pure coincidence. The translator and the publisher probably did not know that there were two versions, or at least they did not point out. Like other German editions, the book gives the impression that only one version exists - only this time it is the text from 1818.
With the exception of Elisabeth Lacroix, German translators worked with the version from 1831, which is no wonder, because until 1974 only this version was actually available on the English book market. If it is occasionally claimed in German editions that the text is from 1818, one must not be fooled by that. The verification is very simple. In the version of 1818, the 4th chapter begins with the conception of the monster: "It was on a gloomy November night when I saw the result of my efforts. With a fear that almost bordered on agony, I prepared for myself Instruments that should ignite a spark of life in the inanimate thing at my feet. " In the version from 1831 it is the 5th chapter that begins like this.
After Elisabeth Lacroix, Alexander Pechmann was the first to present a German translation of the first edition, published in 2006 by Patmos Verlag (and now by dtv). Unfortunately, because of the unfortunate choice of words, this book also invites misunderstandings. It is actually a translation of the 1818 version, but not, as claimed, the "original version". That would be the novella from 1816 that has not survived, or at most Mary Shelley's manuscript without Percy's editing and without the division into three volumes requested by the first publisher.Since 2008 you can buy this "original version" of the novel at an acceptable price in English, if you will The Original Frankenstein, edited by Charles E. Robinson.
High noon with vampires
Bentley's questionable handling of copyright thus had consequences that we have with us to this day. This affects the film versions as well as the book editions. And although copyright has evolved since then, some things never seem to change. This always applies when financial interests meet artistic considerations. Bentley's trick of extending copyright with some strategic changes is as popular as ever. Usually this happens behind the scenes. As a consumer, you don't learn anything about it, and because you don't get any or only evasive answers to questions, you have to rely on your own talent for combinations.
Here's my speculation about what happened to Browning's death in the DVD age Dracula happened by 1931, and subsequently also with James Whales Frankenstein. You have to know that dubbing was not technically possible in the early years of the sound film. In parallel with Browning, who at Dracula worked with Bela Lugosi, George Melford and Paul Kohner therefore produced a version for the Spanish-speaking market (with Carlos Villarias as a vampire). This Spanish one Dracula ran only briefly and was considered lost for a long time. When a copy turned up, the Universal found that they had saved the fee for the copyright in 1931.
Such an omission cannot simply be made up for. On the DVD from 1999 (published in the "Classic Monster Collection") you can hear and see how this problem can be solved with little effort. You make a few changes like Bentley does with his novels, then apply for a new copyright. The 1999 DVD doesn't have that Swan Lake- Hear the archive tune that begins most of Universal's early sound horror films, but a different recording. It doesn't stop as abruptly as before, is longer and immediately follows the first dialogue, for which the first long shot with the carriage was shortened a bit. For this "new version" of the Spanish Dracula registered a copyright (the already copyrighted film with Bela Lugosi stayed as it was).
The Spanish Dracula in the "Legacy Collection" from 2004 has the same changed beginning as the one from 1999. One can now say that these are ridiculous trifles: a different recording of the one that was added in 1931 only very primitively Swan Lake-Melody, a few more bars of it, a few less pictures with the stagecoach. These little things make it clear, however, that Universal was basically prepared to intervene in order to secure a copyright (and not for the purpose of film restoration).
2006 appeared Dracula a third time on DVD. In the "75th Anniversary Edition" the Spanish version begins as - to my knowledge - in 1931: with the same Swan Lake-Melody from the archive like that Dracula with Lugosi, which ends abruptly at the same point as in the Lugosi version. Because the melody no longer has to extend to the first dialogue, the journey in the carriage has become longer again. This is to be welcomed in the sense of being true to the original. But it also means that Universal 2006 must have found another way of asserting a copyright than for the unchanged Spanish one Dracula from 1931 there can be no more.
My suspicion: The small interventions no longer had to be retained because they had been replaced by a more serious change. The Spanish Dracula the "75th Anniversary Edition" is brighter than the versions from 1999 and 2004 - not much, but noticeable. That also changes the viewing experience. It is worse for the LugosiDracula happened. The original negative was reused by the always thrifty Universal in the 1940s for new film shoots, then dismembered and finally thrown away. A proper restoration is therefore difficult or even impossible. A "restored version" is easier to sell if you release a film on DVD for the third time in seven years.
Anyone who develops a whitening process also wants it to pay off. So you have to use it as often as possible. The Lugosi-Dracula was brightened (= "restored") much more than the Spanish version (Whales Frankenstein in the "75th Anniversary Edition" is no longer what it used to be). Universal received a lot of praise for this because the picture now looks sharper and more can be seen. However, this is at the expense of the visual gradation of the image information (everything is equally easy to recognize and therefore equally weighted) and hits a film like Draculawho lives on the difference between light and dark, between day and night, to the core (remember: daylight is deadly for vampires). The filmmakers' intentions are of no interest anyway.
Studios like Universal loved making horror films in the 1930s because there was a lot of night and shadow. This saved money for the backdrops that disappeared in the dark. That was the starting point from which directors like Browning or Whale made their artistic decisions. The atmospheric quality of their films is crucially related to the strong contrast between light and dark. Now you pretend that they would have liked to illuminate their settings brighter and do that for them. In the same way, one could say that Whale, Browning and Karl Freund (from The mummy there is also a "75th Anniversary Edition") would have preferred to shoot CinemaScope films and manipulate the image accordingly.
Robert E. Seletsky is one of the very few who criticized Universal’s approach. He points to one of the first shots, which makes it very clear what an absurd result the last "restoration" has produced so far. "We have to get to the inn before sunset," says one of the passengers in the carriage that Renfield takes through Transylvania. In 1931 the stagecoach was seen at dusk. Since 2006 it has been as bright as the midday sun.
It reminds me of poor Nosferatu, who had to carry his coffin around in daylight for decades until Enno Patalas put the pictures in one real Restoration, following an old silent film convention, colored blue (as a sign of the night). In the new restoration of the Murnau Foundation, the blue has turned into green. Nobody considers it necessary to explain why this is so (the night is still blue on the BFI DVD).
It may have something to do with the copyrights that our famous foundation has on the original Nosferatu does not own? An important task awaits consumer protection here. Intellectual food should be taken just as seriously as the quality of shrink-wrapped cheap meat. It would also be nice to have a copyright that focuses on the essentials. It should protect the rights of the author, ensure the accessibility of a work in the form chosen by its creators and not provide any incentives to tinker with it for purely financial reasons. A reference to the additives for which the provider is responsible, for example to preserve the copyright, would be the minimum.
No more Polidori
The question remains, what became of the Creator of Lord Ruthven, the ancestor of Count Dracula? Dr. We lost sight of Polidori when "The Vampyre" was stolen from him by an unscrupulous publisher. He was found dead on August 24, 1821. He had probably poisoned himself to draw attention to himself - with a slow-acting poison and in the hope of being found in time. That failed.
A relative, William Michael Rossetti, reports in his spiritistic diary of a contact on November 25, 1865. During a seance, Polidori's spirit revealed itself by knocking signals. He said he killed himself. When asked if he was happy, Polidori answered with two knocks: "Not really."Read comments (16 posts)
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