“Le docteur Ure galvanisant le corps de l’assassin Clydsdale,” from Louis Figuier, Les merveilles de la Science (1867)

Shortly after Frankenstein was published, Dr. Andrew Ure, inspired by Galvani’s experiments on frogs, tested his theory of “Animal Electricity” on the corpse of an executed criminal. Performed before a curious public in the Anatomy theater of Glasgow University, the experiment produced some bizarre effects, including apparent breathing, violent leg extension, and extreme facial expressions: as the Quarterly Journal of Science and the Arts reported, “every muscle in his countenance was simultaneously thrown into fearful action; rage, horror, despair, anguish, and ghastly smiles, united their hideous expressions in the murderer’s face, surpassing far the wildest representations of Fuseli or a Kean. At this period several of the spectators were forced to leave the apartment from terror or sickness, and one gentleman fainted” (vol. 6, 1819, p. 290).

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