August 29, 2022
Did you know that August 30 is Mary Shelley’s birthday? On this day in 1797, the author who many credit with launching modern science fiction was born in Somers Town, London. In order to mark the occasion, Frankenstein Day was created to celebrate both her and the creature she created in her novel Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus.
But wait! Maybe it should be called Happy Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s Monster Day since the creature wasn’t actually called Frankenstein. Then again, Victor Frankenstein wasn’t a doctor, so that wouldn’t work. And we better make sure not to mention Igor either since he didn’t exist in the novel.
The above paragraph mentions a lot of misunderstandings that have grown about Frankenstein. So, I thought that it would be a good time to look at other popular literary myths that people have come to believe. (By the way, the biggest source for these misconceptions is Hollywood.)
If you want to play Sherlock Holmes for Halloween this year, make sure you have your hat and your pipe ready. But don’t say, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Not if you’re trying to be accurate to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation that is! In fact, Holmes never spoke those words in the novels.
Interested in learning about what happened during the storming of France’s Bastille on July 14, 1789? Well don’t read Les Miserables. Contrary to popular belief, Victor Hugo’s story is not a dramatization of events of that day. The novel takes place nearly four decades later.
Remember how Alex in Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange ultimately proved to be irredeemable? Well that means you either saw the movie by Stanley Kubrick or read the American version of the novel, which left out the last chapter. Actually, Alex got bored being a hooligan and grew out of it to eventually become a productive member of society.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula wasn’t young and good looking. He was actually an elderly man with a grey mustache. And sunlight weakened him but didn’t kill him. Also, no wooden stake through the heart in the novel.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet didn’t say, “Alas, Poor Yorick. I knew him well!” but instead, “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio—a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.” You could fill a book with misquoted Shakespearean lines. Not to mention lines attributed to the author that never appeared in any of his plays.
And if your only exposure to fairy tales is through Disney, you will be shocked reading the older versions of those stories. The ending of The Little Mermaid will make you cry, and you will never look at Princes in the same way after reading Sleeping Beauty. Then again, maybe Walt and Co. did us a favor by a getting rid of the blood and gore and focusing on “happily ever after.”
Find out the real stories by checking out the original books here at MCPL.