Raffaella Simili

The preface to the first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) opens with the following words : “the event on which this fiction is founded has been supposed by Dr. Darwin and some of the physiological writers of Germany as not of impossible occurence”

[SHELLEY M. 1993, p. 3]1. In the new introduction to 1831 edition, Mary relates the origin of the story, makes reference to galvanism and, again, to Dr. Darwin. 2

Many and long were the conversations between Lord Byron and Shelley, to which I was a devout but nearly silent listener. During one of these various doctrines were discussed, and among others the nature of the principle of life, and wheter there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated. They talked of the experiments of Dr. Darwin […], who preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass cage, till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion […] Perhaps  a corpse would be reanimated, galvanism has given token of such things, perhaps the components parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together and endued with vital warmth [SHELLEY M. 1993, pp. 195-196]

It is significant that in considering the principle of life, Mary Shelley refers to galvanism and Darwin, even though there is no doubt that nineteenth-century England galvanism was related to the origins of life and the occurrence of death with regard to animal electricity and medical therapy, and principally concerning problems to do with respiration and drowning.3 In the first additional note to The Temple of Nature, or the Origin of the Society, a didactic poem written in 1802 and posthumously published in 1803, Darwin discussed spontaneous vitality and described many experiments made by Ellis, Reamur, Buffon and others. He believed that, under certain circumastances, microscopic life could arise from non-living matter in a very short span of time :

Some of the microscopic animals are said to remain dead for many days or weeks, when the fluid in which they existed is dried up, and quickly to recover life and motion by the fresh addition of water and warmth… [DARWIN E. 1974, pp. 7-8]

Luigi Galvani, the father of galvanism, was deeply involved, through many convincing experiments, in an intriguing study of the principle of life. In 1971, Galvani, Professor of Anatomy at Bologna Univerisity, published a memoir entitled De viribus electricitatis in motu muscolari. Commentarius, where he presented his ideas on the relation between electricial forces and the contraction of animal muscles.4 Galvani had discovered that a muscle in a dissected frog could be fired from an electrical machine. Then in his work he argued that muscles contain electricity and compared them to a Leyden bottle, whose external surface is charged with negative electricity and its internal surface with positive electricity, according to a metaphor drawn from physics which, though strongly criticised, had been employed especially by John Walsh in his work on electric fish. The nerve is the conductor of this bottle and together with the blood vessels provides the muscles with electricity. Galvani’s interpretation of this extraordinary phenomenon was that the biological being was definitely not just an electroscope that indicated an action within a particular circuit, but the origin of the observed reaction. Now, was the whole body an electrical circuit? Which was the origin of this animal electricity? Did apparently inanimate matter have the potential for life?

One of the phenomena which had peculiarly attracted my attention», Frankenstein explained to Captain Walton, when he told his incredible story, «was the structure of the human frame and, indeed, any animal endued with. Whence, I often asked myself, did the principles of life proceed? [SHELLEY M. 1993, p. 33].

In 1803, when The Temple of Nature was first published, the physicist Giovanni Aldini, Luigi Galvani’s nephew and collaborator, carried out an experiment which was decisive in demonstrating the validity of Galvani’s theory of animal electricity, and which had great resonance in Great Britain5. Aldini was eager to make public his uncle’s discoveries in the field of animal electricity. He exhibited the results of his findings in Paris and then moved to London where he continued his galvanic experiments. One of these seemed to embody human progress’s most perverted dreams and to «be fresh in the memory of those who were gratified with a sight of these infinitely interesting phenomena» [Medicai and Physical Journal pp. 382-383].
As a matter of fact, Aldini’s original aim was to verify if and to what extent the galvanic apparatus could bring a person suffering from asphyxia back to life. He had recently been appointed honorary member of the Royal Humane Society, a philanthropic society founded in 1774 by renowned doctors and sponsored by the government, whose mission was that of finding new cures for people experiencing drowning or suffocation, as they frequently occurred in mines or in the channels as well as on the sea. Aldini was invited to the Royal College of Surgeon’s anatomical theatre by Mr. Keate, the King’s physician, to carry out some repulsive experiments on the body of Forster, executed on the 17th of January, 1803, for the murder of his wife and son.
The subject of the experiments was a malefactor executed at Newgate, on the morniing of the 17th of January last. The body was exposed a whole hour, in a temperature of about 30°, after which it was delivered to the College of Surgeons, in pursuance of the usual sentence of the law, and was transferred to Professor Aldini, who with the assistance of Mr Keate, Mr Carpue, Mr. Hutchins, Mr Cuthbertson and others able men, subjected it to the following experiments, the galvanic power being in all of them supplied by three troughs, combined together, each of which contained forty plates of zinc, and as many of copper; the interposed fluid was diluted muriatic acid.[…]

On applying the are being to both the ears, a motion of the head was manifested, all the muscles of the face became convulsed, and the lips and eye-lids were evidently affected. The action was increased by making one extremity of the arc to communicate with the nostril and the other with the ear. On applying the conductors to the ear and to the rectum, such violent muscular contractions were excited, as almost to give the appearance of re-animation! [Medical and Physical Journal pp. 382-385].

Thus the report of the experiment ended; in the «lntroduction» to the novel written in 1831, Mary Shelley stated: «Perhaps a corpse would be reanimated; galvanism had given token of such things» [SHELLEY M. 1993, p. 195].

2. Erasmus Darwin, a professional physician and one of British foremost practitioners, had analysed the function of living beings in many of his works and had described animal motion not as a mechanical or chemical power, but as an intrinsic stimulus connected with the concepts of irritation, sensation, volition and association. According to Darwin, the source of all motion in animals is the «spirit of animation, which is unique to organic  life». Darwin ( and Galvani) believed in an organism understood as a dynamic system of communication, with a proper internal organisation based on the brain.
In the 1790, after the publication of his treatise Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life, Darwin became the most famous medicl man. Since the publication of the highly praised science fictional poem, The Botanic Garden, he had already been recognised as one of the leading English poets of the day.
Horace Walpole, the great artist of literary taste, called The Loves of the Plants (the first part of The Botanic Garden) «the most delicious poem on earth»; for him Erasmus Darwin was among the greatest writers of all times [KING-HELE 1999, p. 237].
Darwin wrote also a treatise on scientific agriculture, Phytologia (1800) which was highly appreciated by the chemist Humphry Davy.
According to Darwin’s biographer Desmond King-Hele, «the most profound of his talents, was scientific insight, in physics, chemistry, geology, meteorology and all of biology» [KING-HELE 1999, p. IX]. It was Darwin who first explained the formation of clouds and who described the entire process of photosynthesis in plants.
He was one of the founding-members of the Derby Philosophical Society and of the Lunar Circle of Birmingham. He was also a fellow of the Royal Society, where he had presented several writings since 1757. In 1786-88, along with his son, Robert, the father-to-be of the illustrious Charles, he gave a report conceming the ocular spectrum.
A convinced pacifist, he opposed any form of tyranny and oppression, and promoted American rights for independence and the anti-slavery campaign in favour of which, in 1789, thanks to his friend Josiah Wedgewood, he created a medal with the image of a chained slave and the inscription: “am I not a man and a brother”?
Darwin was accused of being a Jacobin and, in 1798, four years after the eight-month suspension of the Habeas Corpus and the imprisonment of twelve reformists, Pitt Canning, then the Foreign Office vice-secretary, and H. Frere and G. Ellis, published a pamphlet against him and against the famous radical philosopher William Godwin, The Love of Triangles, which appeared on the Anti-Jacobin.
Likewise Jacobinian was the motto Erasmus chose for his family: E conchis omnia, which clearly mirrored his evolutionist opinions regarding the origin of the world, opinions apparently neglected for a long time by his celebrated nephew Charles [DARWIN C. 2003]. Erasmus was also very competent in the field of electricity, and above allin that of atmospheric electricity. He attended lessons by Whytt and Cullen while studying medicine at Edinburgh from 1754 to 1756. Robert Whytt, who published On the Vital and Other Involuntary Motions in 1751, became Professor of Theory of Medicine at Edinburgh in 17 4 7, while William Cullen went there in 1755 [WHYTT 1751; CULLEN 1777-1784].
Both Whytt and Cullen were distant from the dry mechanist doctrines of Boerhaave and were not fond of Haller’s researches on irritability, which he had separated from sensation and, hence, from the nerves-brain circuit.
In Of fibrous contraction, section XII of Zoonomia, Of stimulus, sensorial exertion, and fibrous contraction, Darwin explicitly cites Galvani’s experiments together with those performed  by Volta and others, with no distinction:

On these accounts I do not think the experiments conclusive, which were lately published by Galvani, Volta, and others, to show a similitude between the spirit of animation, which contracts the muscular fibres, and the electric fluid. Since the electric fluid may act only as a more potent stimulus exciting the muscular fibres into action, and not by supplying them with a new quantity of the spirit of life [DARWIN E. 1794-1796, p. 66].

In support of his thesis, Darwin reports the recent case of a hemiplegia, in which he had observed the flow of electric fluid acting only as a stimulus, with no additional sensorial power. According to Darwin,

nothing can act, where it does not exist; for to act includes to exist; and therefore the particles of the muscular fibre … cannot affect each other without the influence of some intermediate agent; this agent is here termed the spirit of animation, or sensoria! power … [DARWIN E. 1794-1796, p. 64].

Neither electrical and magnetic attractions nor cohesion and elasticity apply to animal fibres contraction: animal’s contraction «is governed by laws of its own, and not by those of mechanics, chemistry, magnetism or electricity» [DARWIN E. 1794-1796, p. 65]. Moreover, the spirit of animation which, according to Darwin, pervades the realm of living beings is defined not only in terms of sensorial power, but also as sensorium, which expresses «the medullary part of the brain, spinal marrow, nerves, organs of sense and of the muscles», and is very different, therefore, from the traditional sentient principle [DARWIN E. 1794-1796, p.10]. The latter usually excluded a cerebral circuit extending to the spinalmarrow and to sensorial organs in particular.
In considering Darwin, it must be remembered that the sensorium’s faculties include not only irritations, but also sensations, volitions, associations, perceptions, ideas. By the word stimulus, in fact, Darwin does not only mean

the application of extemal bodies to our organs of sense and muscular fibres, which excites into action the sensoria! power termed irritation; but also pleasure or pain, when they excite into action the sensoria! power termed sensation; and desire or aversion, when they excite into action the power of volition; and lastly, the fibrous contractions, which precede association [DARWIN E. 1794-1796, p. 13].

 In describing the four sensoria! faculties or sensorium’s motions, Darwin reinforced the claim that irritation is «an exertion or change of some extreme part of the sensorium residing in the muscles or organs of sense, in consequence of the appulses of extemal bodies» [DARWIN E. 1794-1796, p. 32]. Consistent with such a view, Darwin highlights the relevant role played by the galvanic pile, when dealing with attraction and repulsion between electrical ethers, while acknowledging that

 it appears from the experiments discovered by Galvani, which have hence the name of galvanism, that animal flesh, and particularly perhaps the nerves, both of which are composed of much carbon and water, are the most perfect conductors yet discovered [DARWIN, E. 1974,p. 64].

Darwin’s position fitted thus into the Volta-inspired galvanism, which was able to investigate natural phenomena – although certainly not those of life – from a new electrodynamic perspective, combining electricity, chemistry, and electromagnetism. Championing David Hartley’s philosophy, Darwin was «a materialist through and through» [PORTER 2000, p. 437]. He developed the first comprehensive theory of biological evolution:

would it be too hold to imagine, that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament, which the Great First Cause endued  with animality with the power of acquiring new parts, attended with new propensities, directed by irritations, sensations, volitions, and associations; and thus possessing the faculty of continuing to improve by its own inherent activity, and of delivering down those improvements by generation to its posterity, world without end?[DARWIN E. 1794-1796, p. 240].

His theory of evolution, formulated in 1770, was divulged for the first time in the first volume of the medical treatise Zoonomia, and then in Temple of Nature. According to this theory, life had developed itself over the course of million of centuries, evolving from microscopic corpuscles which spontaneously grew in primordial seas, into fish and amphibians, then animals living on earth, to culminate into human beings. In Temple of Nature he vividly portrayed the struggle for survival that takes place between animals and plants, ensuing in the survival of the «fittest», even though the word itself is never used. Such analysis then carne to encompass also the social ambit, where the human being is the protagonist.
In Zoonomia, through the analysis of the mutations of forms in animal life, Darwin highlighted how change is the dominant factor of natural processes, in accordance with what Davy had argued regarding chemical phenomena.
Concupiscence, hunger, and safety are the forces that control change: it is not by chance that animals adapt or modify parts of their structures due to the search for food.
Darwin even dealt with sexual selection, which prescribes that males fight each other for the exclusive possession of females, so as to allow the strongest to perpetuate the species, ameliorating it.
In Production of Life, the first canto of Temple of Nature, Darwin speaks of an evolutionary chain of living creatures «without progeny»:

Hence without parent by spontaneous birth
Rise the first speks of animated earth;
From Nature’s womb the plant or insect swims,
And buds or breathes, with microscopie limbs

Darwin devoted the first of the explicative notes added as appendix to the poem to the scientific issues tackled by these lines. There, he expounded his theory of spontaneous vitality, supporting it with a number of experimental observations.
This explicative note, along with other, less known, ones, including those which refer to sensorium, to reproduction, to the acquisition of sounds and of language, exerted a pervasive influence on the kind of animation and cognitive learning that Mary Shelley conceives for the creature bom in Frankenstein’ s laboratory.
It must also be noted that in Botanic Garden Darwin – «that astonishing polymath» – had inaugurated a pagan vision of nature when he employed figurations of nymphs, elves, and dwarves to represent Linnaeus’ s classification of the sexual system of plants, thus combining the latest technological developments of the day with mythological imagery [PORTER 2000,p.4].
But in Botanic Garden as well as in Temple of Nature, Darwin also voiced a vision of the human being suitable for an age characterized by machines and technical inventions, a Promethean vision of boundless possibilities, which relegated God to a distant and blurred entity.
All this resulted in the banning of Zoonomia. The Temple of Nature, published in 1803 when deism and democracy appeared unacceptable to English society, was condemned for its anti-religious views and, after a third edition in 1825, was out of print in Great Britain until 1973!
As Desmond King Hele observes, Darwin’s influénce on Blake, Byron, Wordsworth,Keats, Shelley, and Coleridge was a pervasive one [KING-HELE 1986]. Although Coleridge coined the expression to darwinize» to ironically indicate Erasmus’ s evolutionary speculations, he did not hesitate to call him «the first literary character in Europe, and the most original-minded Man»[COLERIDGE 2000, p. 305].6

A case in point is represented by Shelley’s poetica! writings: Mimosa, Sensitive Plant, The Cloud, and especially Prometheus Unbound, all show how deeply and persistently the romantic poet was affected by Darwin.
Commenting on Darwin’s influence on the younger Romantics, Desmond KingHele states that: «the best known instance of Darwin’s hold over the younger Romantics is his vital role in the birth of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein» [KING-HELE 1986, p. 361].
Before getting into experiments not with «vermicelli», as Mary wrote, but vorticella, Darwin had clarified that spontaneous generation is typical of microscopic animals, and that it occurs without any divine intervention:

the power of reproduction distinguishes organic being, whether vegetable or animal, from inanimate nature. The circulation of fluids in vessels may exist in hydraulic machines, but the power of reproduction belongs alone to life [DARWIN E. 1974, p. 2].

A point that Darwin further explains in the explicative note on reproduction:

The mystery of reproduction, which alone distinguishes organic life from mechanic or chemic action, is yet wrapt in darkness. During the composition of organic bodies, where there exists a due degree of warmth with moisture, new microscopic animals of the most minute kind are produced; and these possess the wonderful power of the reproduction, or of producing animals similar to themselves in their general structure, but with frequent additional improvements; which the preceding parent might in some measure have acquired by his habits of life or accidental situation [DARWIN E. 1974, p. 38].

In his description of the classical experiments carried out by Buffon, Reamur, Ingenhouz, Priestley, and Edgeworth, Darwin took as examples the vorticella – named after their wheel-like shape. He referred to them as:

wheel animal, which is found in rain water that has stood some days in leaden gutters, or in hollows of lead on the tops of houses, or in the slime or sediment left by such water, though it discovers no sign of life except when in the water, yet it is capable of continuing alive for many months though kept in a dry state. In this state it is of a globulous shape, exceeds not the bigness of a grain of sand, and no signs of life appear; but being put into water, in the space of half an hour a languid motion begins, the globule tums itself about, lengthens itself by slow degrees, assumes the form of a lively maggot, and most commonly in a few minutes afterwards puts out its wheel, swimming vigorously through the water as if in search of food; or else, fixing itself by the tail, works the wheels in such a manner as to bring its food to its mouth [DARWIN E. 1974, pp. 6-7].

«These microscopic animals», he further explained,

are found in all solutions of vegetable or animal matter in water [ … ] from all which it would appear that organic particles of dead vegetables and animals during their usual chemical changes into putridity or acidity, do not lose all their organization or vitality, but retain so much of it as to unite with the parts of living animals in the process of nutrition, or unite and produce new complicate animals by secretion as in generation, or produce very simple microscopie animals or microscopie vegetables, by their new combination in warmth and moisture [DARWIN E. 1974, pp. 7-8].
There is therefore no absurdity» Darwin concluded, «in believing that the most simple animals and vegetables may be produced by the congress of the parts of decomposing organic matter, without what can properly be termed generation. [ … ] The green vegetable matter [ … ] which is universally produced in stagnant water, and the mucor, or mouldiness, which is seen on the surface of all putrid vegetable and animal matter, have probably no parents, but a spontaneous origin from the congress of the decomposing organic particles, and afterwards propagate themselves [DARWIN E. 1974, p. 8].

In her 1831 Introduction, Mary Shelley wrote: «Perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together and endued with vital warmth» [SHELLEY M. 1993, p. 195]. 3. This is then the principle of life, a principle which originates from and leads back to, death. In Mary Shelley’s singularly audacious romantic mind, this principle ignites the creation of a special human being without progeny; a being that, like other animal creatures, lives thanks to a spark of heat and/or electricity! Immediately after receiving the spark, this human being comes to life, can move, is capable of understanding and learning as he later fully exhibits.
From this point of view, the best philosophical source is to be traced in Locke, whose work Mary was assiduously reading during the composition of Frankenstein. Yet, it is also easy to perceive behind this kind of animation and learning process once again the influence of Darwin, a disciple of Locke himself.
Let’s go back for a while to Zoonomia, where Darwin had described animal motion not as a mechanical or chemical power, but as an intrinsic stimulus connected to the concepts of irritation, sensation, volition, and association. The spirit of animation «is the immediate cause of the contraction of animal fibres, it resides in the brain and nerves» [DARWIN E. 1974, pp. 12-13]. Darwin was the first to include in the science of life such a fundamental principle – the fibrous contraction in where sense, brain, and motion are concentrated. The spirit of animation is thus recognized as a materiai agent which, in combination with fibres, becomes capable of giving birth to life or, to put it in John Brown’s term, «excitable». Therefore, the spirit of animation is not a principle; rather, it is a psychophysiological condition of living organisms, including human beings. In the first canto of Temple of Nature: we can read:

Next the long nerves unite their silver train,
and young SENSATION permeates the brain.

Thus, the spirit of animation plays a central role in a theory of cognition going back to Brown, to Beddoes, and to William and John Hunter on the one hand, while on the other hand it is greatly influenced by Hartley and, to a lesser extent, by Locke and Hume [SMITH 2004].
Such a theory could be perfectly adjusted to the functioning of Frankenstein’s creature, which first comes to life through a convulsive motion and through the opening of the eyes; then it starts seeing, perceiving, it moves, walks, and finally speaks, knows and leams, moving from a primitive life to a more refined one, typical of the civilized human kind. As a matter of fact, Darwin’ s physiology gave the creature not only animation and motion, but also language, sounds and the ability to communicate.
From this point of view, the note upon the analysis of articulated sounds – which refers to the lines: «The tongue, the lips articulate; the throat/With soft vibration modulates the note» – appears illuminating when read in connection with the production of those sounds by the unfortunate creature which frightened Frankenstein. Thus the monster describes them:

Sometimes I wished to express my sensations in my own mode, but the uncouth and inarticulate sounds which broke from me frightened me into silence again [SHELLEY M. 1993, p. 81].

«By our organ of hearing we perceive the vibrations of the air, which vibrations are performed in more or in less time, which constitutes high or low notes in respect to the gammut but the tone depends on the kind of instrument which produces them». As a matter of fact, Darwin commented on sounds:

the clear continued sounds are produced by the streams of air passing from the lungs in respiration through the larynx; which is fumished with many small muscles, which by their action give a proper tension to the extremity of this tube; and the sounds, I suppose, are produced by the opening and closing of its aperture; something like the trumpet stop of an organ [ … ] These sounds would ali be nearly similar [ … ] but they are modulated again, or acquire various tones, in their passage through the mouth; which thus converts them into eight vowels [DARWIN E. 1974, p. 109].

In this way, the creature could progressively leam to modulate sounds «by degrees», until it perceived that these articulate sounds, associated according to a pattern, could voice impressions and feelings:

I perceived that the words they spoke sometimes produced pleasure or pain, smiles or sadness, in the minds and countenances of the hearers. [ … ] By great application [ … ] I discovered the names that were given to some of the most familiar objects of discourse [ … ] I cannot describe the delight I felt when I leamed the ideas appropriated to each of these sounds, and was able to pronounce them [SHELLEY M. 1993,p. 88].

Thus Erasmus explains how language works:

Next to each thought associate sounds accords.
And forms the dulcet symphony of words

In the explicative note, following Locke once again, Darwin clarified that language and learning go hand in hand: language is composed by words which are names or symbols for ideas. According to the audacious parable conceived by Mary Shelley, as soon as the miserable creature could speak, it attempted to read difficult texts which brought about ideas, feelings, and emotions: as a result of a specific empiric-evolutionary perspective, the creature had become a «civilized» human being.

The well-known radical philosopher and father of Mary, William Godwin, considered Frankenstein «the most wonderful work to have been written at twenty years that I have ever heard off» [SEYMOUR 2000, p. 195].
At that time, Godwin could not imagine that Frankenstein, born out of the «active and singularly audacious mind» of his Mary, thanks to the discovery of the principle of life, would originate one of the most thrilling and longlasting myths of modem times which, in turn, would inaugurate a new literary genre: science fiction. R. Stevenson, B. Stoker, E. A. Poe, O. Wilde, G. H. Wells are among those who explicitly made references to Frankenstein in their works. King-Hele, though, traces this new literary genre even farther back, to Erasmus Darwin!
On the other hand, Darwin’s view had powerful ideological implications. His writings expose a full vindication of industrial society, rationalized through social biology. «All nature exists in a state of perpetual improvement». Through incessant, gradual modifications, the general animation on of life makes the evolutionary process possible. Moreover, even though the endless mutual competition of organic forms causes struggle, destruction, and extinction, the Darwinian law of competition should in principle always result in some kind of improvement.
Human capacities are the products of biological and physiological development; they extend «the progress of the mind». According to Roy Porter, Erasmus Darwin

was concerned to rescue man from the aspersion of being nothing other than a machine. He stressed man’s inner energies and drives, both the capacity and the need to learn, the inventiveness and the adaptiveness of homo faber, the man who makes himself. Darwin then offered a vision of man for the machine age, but not of man the machine [PORTER 2000, p. 445].

It is well-known how Darwin’s and Galvani’s «ambiguous» theories, the spirit of animation and animal electricity, gave rise to a vision that conceived nature as the unity between the organic and inorganic realms.
Within the nineteenth-century cultural panorama, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Ritter and also Muller discussed galvanism from the point of view of the philosophy of nature. Darwin also deeply affected German thought, especially Muller and Ritter. Through Ritter’s galvanism, Muller’s vitalism, the revival of Brownism and mesmerism, a revised vision of the «world spirit» took shape, a view that progressively emerged as a radical alternative to Newtonian mechanics.
One year after Frankenstein’s publication, in the following novel, Matilda, Mary Shelley paid again tribute to Darwin, regarded as the best example of genius that one could imitate. In fact, the poet Woodwill, «a believer in the divinity of genius», said to his friend, Matilda: «I will make a scientific simile [ … ] in the manner, if you will, of Dr. Darwin» [SHELLEY M. 1991, p. 192].

  [1] The bibliography on Mary Shelley is endless. The bibliographical indications provided here refer strictly to the issues discussed in the article. Butler’s introductory essay included in the bibliography provides extensive bibliographical information. On the influence of the scientists H. Davy, L. Galvani, W. Lawrence, and E. Darwin on the genesis and structure of Frankenstein, see SIMILI 2006.[2] For a criticai bibliography on Erasmus Darwin, see KING-HELE 1999; see also SMITH AND ARNOTT 2004.[3] See SIMILI 2001, pp. 13-46.[4] There is an extensive bibliography on Luigi Galvani. See BRESADOLA, PANCALDI 1999; BERETTA, GRANDIN 2001; BERNARDI 1992; SIMILI 1999 e 2001; PICCOLINO, BRESADOLA 2003.[5] The experiment is repmted in Annual Register, February 1803; Edinburgh Review, III, 1803, pp. 193-98; The Medical and Physical Joumal, vol. IX, London, 1803; G. Aldini, An account of the Late improvements in Galvanism, with a series of curious and interesting experiments in Paris and London, with Appendix, containing the author’s Experiments at Newgate, London, Cuthellse Martin and J. Murray, 1803; Id., Generai views on the application of Galvanism to medicai purposes, London, J. Callow, 1819, Appendix, pp. 79-85; Id., Essai théorique et expérimental sur le Galvanisme, Paris, De l’imprimerie de Foumier fils, 1804.[6]  See also KING-HELE 1971, P. 265.


ALDINI, G. (1803): An Account of the Late Improvements in Galvanism, With a Series of Curious and Interesting Experiments in Paris and London, with Appendix, containing the author’s Experiments at Newgate, London, Cuthellse Martin and J. Murray.
– (1804): Essai théorique et expérimental sur le Galvanisme, Paris, De l’imprimerie de Foumier fils.
– (1819): General Views on the Application of Galvanism to Medical Purposes, London, J. Callow.
Annual Register, February 1803.
BERETTA, M. AND GRANDIN, K., eds. (2001): A Galvanized Network. Italian-Swedih Scientific Relations from Galvani to Nobel, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm.
BERNARDI, W. (1992): I fluidi della vita: alle origini della controversia sull’elettricità animale, Firenze, Olschki.
BRESADOLA, M. AND PANCALDI, G., EDS. (1999): Luigi Galvani lnternational Workshop, Bologna, Università di Bologna.
COLERIDGE, S. T. (2000): Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, vol. I, Griggs, E. L., ed., Oxford, Oxford University Press. CULLEN, W. (1777-1784): First Lines of the Practice of Physics, 4 vols., London.
-(1789): A Treatise of the Materia Medica, 2 vols., Edinburgh/London.
DARWIN, C. (2003): The Life of Erasmus Darwin, King-Hele D., ed., Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
DARWIN, E. ( 1794-1796): Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life, London, J. Johnson.
– (1974 [1803]): The Temple of Nature, or the Origin of Society, Reprint with an Introductory note by King-Hele, D., Merton/London, The Scholar Press.
Edinburgh Review, III, 1803, pp. 193-98.
GALVANI, L. (1953 [1791]): Commentary on the Effects of Electricity on Muscular Motion, with an Introduction by I.B. Cohen, Norwalk.
KING-HELE, D. (1971): Shelley: His Thought and Work, London, Mac Millan.
-(1986): Erasmus Darwin and Romantic Poets, London, Macmillan.
– (1999): Erasmus Darwin A Life of Unequalled Achievement, London, Giles de la Mare Publications.
Medical and Physical Journal (The), vol. IX, London, 1803.
PICCOLINO, M., BRESADOLA, M. (2003): Rane, torpedini e scintille: Galvani, Volta e l’ ‘elettricità animale, Torino, Bollati-Boringhieri.
PORTER, R. (2000): Enlightenment. Britain and the Creation of the Modern World, London, Penguin.
SEYMOUR, M. (2000): Mary Shelley, London, John Munay.
SHELLEY, M. (1991): Matilda, Todd, J., ed., Harmondsworth, Penguin Books.
-(1993 [1818]): Frankenstein or, the Modern Prometheus, The 1818 Text, ed. with Introduction and Notes by Butler M., Oxford, Oxford University Press.
SIMILI, R. (1999): «Luigi Galvani», in Luigi Galvani International Workshop, Bresadola M. and Pancaldi G., eds., Bologna, Università di Bologna, pp. 33-63.
– (2001): «Luigi Galvani. Animal Electricity and Medicai Therapy», in A Galvanized Network. Italian-Swedish Scientific Relations from Galvani to Nobel, Beretta M. and Grandin, K., eds., The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, pp. 13-46.
-(2001): «Luigi Galvani: médicin et savant», La Revue 33, pp. 16-25.
– (2004): «Erasmus Darwin and Luigi Galvani. Two special doctors», in The Genius of Erasmus Darwin, Smith, C.U.M. and Arnott, R., eds., Ashgate, Aldershot, pp. 145-158.
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