1816 is known as The Year Without a Summer, because an Indonesian volcano eruption had made temperatures plummet and crops fail across the globe. During this bizarre, dark, and gloomy season, several young stalwarts of English literature — Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin — gathered at the infamous Villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Confined indoors because of the atrocious weather, the writers decided to have a little contest to see who could write the scariest ghost story…and the results of this creative exercise still resonate throughout the literary world and Western culture to this day. The origins of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein — and perhaps indirectly Bram Stoker’s later Dracula — can all be traced back to this one fateful summer, and we’re going to talk all about it on this spooky and scholarly episode 270.
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Video version (part 2):
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