Historical Reprints History Andrew Crosse: Mad Scientist - Diary of a Monster Maker

Andrew Crosse: Mad Scientist - Diary of a Monster Maker

Andrew Crosse: Mad Scientist - Diary of a Monster Maker
Catalog # SKU2029
Publisher InnerLight/Global
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Andrew Crosse


Andrew Crosse:
Mad Scientist

Diary of a Monster Maker

Mrs. Cornelia A. H. Crosse

We wonder what Andrew Crosse's neighbors would have thought about stem cell research. . .apparently, they were as dead set against any type of controversial inquiries into the possible duplication of the building blocks of life, as many conservatives are today.

Actually, it's easy to imagine Andrew as a type of "Dr Frankenstein." His estate was loaded with what must have seemed like the tools of a "mad scientist." There was two inch thick cooper wiring strung all over the place. Lightning would pop and crackle as his huge batteries and lightning poles and trees full of apparatus must have acted as a contractor for thousands of watts of natural electricity.

How, Crosse managed to create bizarre life forms in his laboratory is hard to contemplate at this late date. His contemporaries seemed honestly stumped as to what series of circumstances made such a feat possible. Some contend that Crosse did not actually create life, that the life was there all along and perhaps it just got "energized" through the course of being impacted by electrical charges on a repeated basis. Perhaps the life forms grew out of proportion, and had been "invisible" to the human eye before being zapped over and over.

Regardless, Andrew Crosse led a spectacular life. His career had numerous high points, and this diary offers many insights both to his professional as well as his private life.


Mary Makes a Monster The above is, in essence, a condensed version of the arduous and infinitely sad life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley; however, for the purposes of this Introduction it is back to a far greater, and in-depth, study of her most famous piece of work - Frankenstein - that we must now turn. In May 1816, Mary, Percy and their son headed to Geneva with Mary's sister, Claire - who was then pregnant by the poet Lord Byron - arriving on the 14th. Byron appeared eleven days later, along with his physician, John William Polidori, and proceeded to rent the Villa Diodati, which was situated in the village of Cologny, near Lake Geneva. Shelley elected to rent another property: Maison Chapuis, which was located on the waterfront itself. And throughout that now-famous and historic summer excursion, the group wrote, boated on the lake, and engaged in deep discussions that lasted late into the night. According to Shelley, the summer was a "wet, un-genial" one; something which resulted in the group essentially being confined to the house for seemingly never-ending days at a time. Notably, however, it was this literal confinement that allowed their conversations to develop - and those same conversations followed some intriguing paths and subjects, as will now become acutely apparent.

For example, one of the areas that fascinated all of them, and which became a key talking-point was the work of 18th century natural philosopher and poet Erasmus Darwin, who, legend has it, succeeded in animating dead matter, and who also suggested that this same animation might possibly work on both a full corpse and - more significantly from the perspective of the tale of Frankenstein - assembled body-parts taken from various human subjects. As a result, and slowly but surely, the idea for Mary's now-classic novel came to careful fruition. Late at night, while sitting around a large, atmospheric log-fire at Byron's spacious villa, the group entertained themselves by reading to each other Fantasmagoriana: an anthology of German ghost stories.

. And, after doing so for several nights, Byron made a suggestion: "Why don't we all write a ghost story?" As history has noted, this is precisely what happened. Byron only managed to write the barest fragment of a story that was based upon vampire legends he heard while traveling throughout the Balkans, however. Polidori's contribution, meanwhile, was far more significant: he wrote The Vampyre, published in 1819, which was arguably the progenitor of the romantic vampire literary genre. But by far the most important development came following a strange, "waking dream" that Mary had, in which the idea for her Frankenstein novel was firmly developed and cemented. Mary later recalled this curious episode, and said: "I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world." And although the initial idea was for Mary's story to be strictly a short one, it quickly mutated into a tale of truly epic proportions. And not only did the initial idea change, so did Mary as a person, who recalled that memorable summer as being the key period when she "first stepped out from childhood into life. "Indeed, it is an issue that often provokes extreme surprise and astonishment when one learns that Mary was still a teenager - nineteen, specifically - when she wrote Frankenstein.

The Monster in Print

Mary completed the writing of her novel in May 1817, and the first, historic edition of the book appeared in print on New Year's Day 1818 via a London-based publishing house, Harding, Mavor & Jones, after having been rejected by both Percy's publisher - Charles Ollier - and Byron's publisher: John Murray. Interestingly, the book was actually issued anonymously, with merely a preface written by Percy on behalf of Mary, and with a dedication to the philosopher William Godwin. Despite the fact that today the book sells every year in huge quantities, the initial print-run was a mere five hundred copies. Although many people assume that the Frankenstein of the title is the name of the monster, this is not the case. The title refers to Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who, via alternative science, controversial medical methods and the utilization of a multitude of acquired body-parts, creates a creature that is both monstrous and tragic in equal measures: part man and part thing. Very ironically for a book that is today acclaimed as one of the all-time greats, on its initial publication, Frankenstein did not fare at all well with the literary critics of the day; something that was only magnified by the fact that the author of the book was not identified when it first surfaced onto the book-shelves.

And while none other than author Sir Walter Scott wrote favorably that "upon the whole, the work impresses us with a high idea of the author's original genius and happy power of expression," the bulk of all the early reviews was very much along the lines of that of Quarterly Review, who said that Mary's book was "a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity." Fortunately, the general public decided to make up its own, collective mind, and, as a result, the book became an instant hit.

Theater productions followed, such as Richard Brinsley Peake's The Fate of Frankenstein, which Mary went along to see in 1823. And the book's success was further increased when overseas editions of Frankenstein appeared - such as the 1821 translation by Jules Saladin: Frankenstein: ou le Prométhée Moderne. In Britain, the book received its second printing in 1823, this time in a two-volume edition published by G. & W. B. Whittaker. And, for the first time, Mary was finally and deservedly credited as the book's author. Eight years later, on Halloween 1831, the company of Henry Colburn & Richard Bentley published what is, today, widely viewed as the first popular edition of Frankenstein - a version that was extensively revised by Mary and which also included a more elaborate preface. Indeed, it is this particular edition that is the one most widely read today; even though the earlier version can still be easily found.

395+ pages - 10¾ x 8¼, softcover

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