A “pleasingly ghoulish” look at the real-life Dr. Frankensteins of the nineteenth century and their legacy in modern medicine (Telegraph).
Mary Shelley's 1818 novel, Frankenstein, introduced readers to the concept of raising the dead through scientific procedures. Those who read the book were thrilled by this incredible Gothic adventure. Few, however, realized that Shelley’s story had a basis in fact.
Her modern Prometheus was a serious pursuit for some of the greatest minds of the early nineteenth century. It was a time when scientists genuinely believed, as Frankenstein did, that they could know what it feels like to be God. Raising the Dead is the story of the science of galvanism—named after the Italian scientist Luigi Galvani, who had conducted the original experiments—a movement that investigated the theory of “animal electricity,” a unifying vital spirit that animates us all, with leaders who believed that they stood on the brink of immortality.
While they ultimately failed in this challenge, their studies mapped out the nervous system and made valuable and enduring contributions to medical knowledge and understanding—from theorizing the concepts of the modern-day defibrillator to the use of deep brain stimulus to treat personality disorders to experimental procedures using microchip-controlled devices to bridge damaged spinal nerves. This “excellent, highly readable history” tells their stories (Herald).