A scintillating New York Times review of a reanimation of Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein in a new novel by Peter Ackroyd. The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein seems well-timed, appearing alongside a flurry of interest in Romantic era science and its interactions and intersections with literature. This looks like a hip, innovative interpretation of the path of a man who dabbled into the deepest mysteries of life and got, well, burned.
Review concludes that “Ackroyd is hard pressed to spark an idea that isn’t already burning, fiercely, in Mary Shelley’s still-vital novel. This, perhaps, is the postmodern Prometheus: an attempt, aware of its own futility, to reanimate something that never died.” Yet Ackroyd, by the sound of it, doesn’t fail to inspire a bold perspective. One that again reminds how central the vitalism dilemma is in the original Modern Prometheus.
Shelley’s work, widely seen as the first sci-fi novel, sets a tone for the boldly transgressive nature (a kind of Ur-nature) of science in the Romantic age. Maybe that’s why our stalwart Times reviewer also mentions another recent (and widely publicized) book on romanticism and science, Richard Holmes’ The Age of Wonder.
I’m curious to read this novel, but would also love to hear from anybody who has checked it out. In the meantime I’m tackling Holmes, continuing to explore romantic and vitalistic convergences in early 19th century science. And beyond…