The eruption of Mount Tambora’s global weather implications and the coinciding birth of quintessential horror stories such as Dracula and Frankenstein highlight a relationship between climate and creativity that has inadvertently guided strands of human development for generations. For example, the harsh weather conditions, especially when they affect harvests and general public health, will incite an adequate amount of stress to keep peoples minds active. The social isolation and lack of mental stimulation when indoors for extended periods of time in the face of threatening conditions outdoors will lead people’s imaginations to run wild. When delving into the specific impacts of these conditions on the stories that came from that time period there is a clear influence. This is just one example of how weather conditions have guided movements in creativity and innovation throughout history.
Wood notes “It was in this literally electric atmosphere that the Shelley party in Geneva, with Byron attached, conceived the idea of a ghost story contest, to entertain themselves indoors during this cold, wild summer.” (Wood) This reminds me of Iceland’s public programs in support of the arts. Iceland has notoriously harsh winters with limited daylight and extreme winds that tend to keep people indoors. Iceland “has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world.” It is said that 1 in every 10 people in the country publishes a book in their lifetime, in large part due to government programs that facilitate it, and in turn keep moral and productivity up through the winter. I see these programs to be very similar to the ghost story contest in their aim and impact.
Additionally, people grow and learn from each other creatively. This is another impact of harsh weather because when many creative people get holed up together for an extended period of time it can inspire a wave of creativity that will just keep growing until it produces something substantial, this is the case with Frankenstein. “As Percy Shelley later wrote, the novel itself seemed generated by “the magnificent energy and swiftness of a tempest.” Thus it was that the unique creative synergies of this remarkable group of college-age tourists—in the course of a few weeks’ biblical weather—gave birth to two singular icons of modern popular culture: Frankenstein’s monster and the Byronic Dracula.” (Wood) Often writing is a relatively solitary pursuit but I believe the social aspect to these projects absolutely contributed to the direction and level of quality that they developed in.
Overall, It is a set of unique weather conditions that created the creative conditions that produced an equally unique set of stories. But I think extreme weather conditions across the spectrum are at the root of many major points in humanities development. The specific impacts of Mount Tambora’s eruption are obviously not the same as say, a summer without rain, but I think the concept remains the same.