Ironically, it was the two novice writers, Mary Shelley and Polidori, whose works have endured.
Almost out of nothing, the pair invented modern horror. The book the Shelleys, Byron, and Polidori were reading during their trip was called Fantasmagoriana. It was an anthology of eight stories of the supernatural published in Paris in but translated from the German. No indication of authors or of original sources was given and readers were invited to think of stories as of embellished versions of real supernatural cases. The title joyfully played with this ambiguity, evoking the kind of shows, popular at the time, which were known as phantasmagorias.
Based on the magic lantern an ancestor of cinema , these shows enabled audiences to see ghosts floating in the air, devils appearing and disappearing, young girls transforming into skeletons.
In the end, the impresario came upon the stage, explaining it was all a trick. But in Paris, around , such shows had been briefly shut down by the police, when rumours had spread that the phantasmagoria could bring the king, Louis XVI, back from the dead. The book read by our holidaying writers proposed a similar gallery of horrors.
History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox!
5 Spooky German Ghost Stories to Keep You Awake at Night
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. More About Horror story 2 references found in Britannica articles Assorted References radio broadcasting In radio: Horror and suspense literature development In mystery story. Help us improve this article! Contact our editors with your feedback. Edit Mode. Horror story.
Fantasmagoriana: the German book of ghost stories that inspired Frankenstein
Tips For Editing. You may find it helpful to search within the site to see how similar or related subjects are covered.
Any text you add should be original, not copied from other sources. At the bottom of the article, feel free to list any sources that support your changes, so that we can fully understand their context.
Internet URLs are the best. Thank You for Your Contribution! Uh Oh. There was a problem with your submission. Please try again later. External Websites Britannica Websites.see url
A Very German Story
Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Keep Exploring Britannica Rhetoric. Rhetoric, the principles of training communicators—those seeking to persuade or inform. In the 20th century…. Read this Article. Poetry, literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional…. Vampire, in popular legend, a creature, often fanged, that preys upon humans, generally by consuming…. View More. Article Media. Submit Feedback.