Tag Archives: radical Pietism

The Orthodox Annihilator of the Microcosmic Preludes

'J. Conrad Dippel, doctor of medicine, commonly known as the Christian Democritus.'

Most of Dippel’s writings appeared under the pseudonym ‘Christianus Democritus’, so most readers would have known him by that name.

Even though it sounds frightful, don’t panic: there was no terminator-style attack on this blog (as yet and to my knowledge). But some readers might remember that this blog adopted its name from a 1733 publication entitled Microcosmic Preludes. This work was falsely attributed to Johann Conrad Dippel (1673–1734), whose ‘Real Frankenstein Potential’ is still up for further investigation. Even though that attribution is almost as old as the book itself and many library catalogues still list Dippel as the author, he was in fact furious at this supposition and published a refutation of the entire work in the very same year. Under the menacing title Orthodox Annihilator (1733), this treatise also contained his own, somewhat paranoid conjectures as to who had written the Microcosmic Preludes and how his own name had come to be associated with them.

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Investigating the ‘Real Frankenstein Potential’ of Johann Conrad Dippel, Pt. 1


This is Dippel’s portrait, though most early biographers felt the need to add that it didn’t actually resemble him very much.

A short while ago, I was in touch with a TV company shooting an infotainment series on mysterious manors. They were interested in Johann Conrad Dippel (1673-1734) as their picks included Castle Frankenstein near Darmstadt, Germany, where he is rumoured to have conducted all sorts of disgusting experiments involving human corpses and mutilated animals. According to Radu Florescu, the author of In Search of Frankenstein (1975; 1996 ed., pp. 76-92; a review may be found here), it was this very castle and the alchemist Dippel who inspired Mary Shelley’s famous novel, Frankenstein (1818). In spite of the fact that Florescu’s grounds for such a claim resemble conjecture and conspiracy theory rather than what would usually qualify as evidence, the identification took hold and is spread far and wide throughout the internet and elsewhere in popular culture. And by the same token, Dippel has come to appear as the ‘real Frankenstein’ to the Anglophone world at large. But if we consider historical and scholarly sources, how impressive is Dippel’s Real Frankenstein Potential actually?  Continue reading