Science Fiction Studies

#71 = Volume 24, Part 1 = March 1997

David Ketterer

Frankenstein’s "Conversion" from Natural Magic to Modern Science—and a Shifted (and Converted) Last Draft Insert

Over the past four years I have been much occupied by, and become increasingly familiar with, the Frankenstein manuscripts in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. These manuscripts, part of "The Abinger Deposit" of Shelley and Godwin papers, consist of most of the Last Draft and most of the concluding fifth of the Fair Copy of that draft. In 1992 and 1993 I made what I believe to be the first complete transcriptions of the extant Last Draft and Fair Copy. Shortly thereafter, I collated my transcriptions with each other and with the first published text of Frankenstein, the 1818 edition.1 My collation work led to the publication of "The Corrected Frankenstein: Twelve Preferred Readings in the Last Draft" (which also describes a few errors traceable to the Last Draft).2 In order to make available a detailed description of the manuscripts and to give an account of what I learned from them (aside from the preferred readings and the matter, previously discussed by E.B. Murray and others, of Percy Shelley’s contribution to Mary Shelley’s novel), I wrote an article of some length entitled "(De)Composing Frankenstein: The Import of Altered Character Names in the Last Draft" which appeared in 1996.3 In that second article I speculate about, but pass rather hurriedly over, the two portions of the manuscript (and the corresponding portions of the published novel) which relate particularly to Frankenstein’s claim to be a work of sf, possibly the first genuine such.4 These portions of the Last Draft are especially illuminating and call for the rather more detailed attention that I shall give them here.

1. In Chapter I of the published novel, Frankenstein gives an account of the first stage of the "conversion" from his enthusiasm for ancient occult philosophers to modern science, a "conversion" which hinges upon his experience of seeing an oak tree destroyed by lightning when he was fifteen years old. I have placed the word "conversion" within qualifying quotation marks for reasons that will become increasingly apparent as this analysis proceeds. For the moment, it is sufficient to know that, in the Last Draft, this first phase of Frankenstein’s exposure to modern science exists in the form of an unpaginated insert (which corresponds approximately to what is in the published Chapter 1 of Volume One5 but minus the paragraph about the lightning blasted tree and the first clause of the following sentence [Rieger 32.15-36.19/1.1:51-59 minus Rieger 35.3-16 ["When I was ... astonishment;"]) on a conjunct bifolium and a single leaf of white paper of British manufacture, the leaf dimensions of which are rather larger than the light blue leaves of Continental manufacture on which approximately the first half of the Last Draft is written. When Mary Shelley wrote that half (ending with what corresponds to Chapter VI of Volume Two of the 1818 edition) the light blue leaves (now for the most part separated bifolia) were part of a bound notebook as were the now disbound white British leaves on which the surviving second half of the Frankenstein Last Draft was written. After the Last Draft was completed, the leaves of both notebooks were separated and the hardboard covers are no longer extant. The insert, which is written on British paper different from the British notebook paper, is headed "Chapt. 2" in the same insert ink.6

The surviving Last Draft begins on page 41, in the midst of what must have been originally styled "Chapter 1" or "Chapter 2." This ambiguity derives from the fact that the next chapter is designated "Chapter [2 cancelled]3" (page 47 of Volume I of the Last Draft) and the one after that simply "Chap. 4" (Vol. I, p. 55).7 Last Draft chapters "[2 cancelled]3" and "4" correspond to Chapter II of Volume One of the 1818 edition; the preceding manuscript fragment corresponds to most of the last two-thirds of Chapter I of the 1818 Volume One. Last Draft "Chap. 4" and the corresponding portion of the 1818 Volume One, Chapter II (["The next morning"] Rieger 40.18 to the end of the chapter), comprise the second portion of the novel dealing with Frankenstein’s "conversion" to modern science—his experience at the University of Ingolstadt with professors Krempe and Waldman. The missing first 40 pages of the Last Draft must, in some way, have corresponded to the apparently somewhat shorter corresponding pages of the 1818 text (approximately 18 pages in the Rieger edition as opposed to the approximately 21 Rieger pages which correspond to the next 40 Last Draft pages—i.e., up to and including page 72, and counting the larger insert pages as equivalent to eight of the Continental pages): Walton’s opening frame letters and the first third of Chapter I. If we assume a now lost Last Draft version of the opening Walton frame preceding "Chapter 1" as in the 1818 edition,8 there are two ways to account for "Chapter [2 cancelled]3" and both involve the insert. Either the insert was first conceived as a new chapter immediately preceding the original lengthy "Chapter 2," or the original "Chapter 1" was divided into two separate chapters when, as I shall demonstrate, Mary Shelley decided the insert belonged in that chapter (the "Chapt. 2" heading now marking the break). After the new "Chapter 3," she numbered the next four chapters in sequence—although not, in the case of chapters 4 and 6, at the time those chapters were written. (Two chapter 7s follow; she did not correct the second to "8" presumably because she decided, as she ultimately did with the preceding Last Draft chapters 3 and 4, that they might better be combined as one chapter.)

It is necessary to be as clear as possible about all of this because of a rather enigmatic entry in Mary Shelley’s journal for 27 October 1816: "Write Ch. [3 cancelled]2½" (Journals I: 142; noted under "Words Obscuring Recovered Matter," II: 700,9 and confirmed by my examination of the actual journal in the Bodleian Library). This is a reference to the writing of the Last Draft of Frankenstein but what exactly does it mean? Does it mean she wrote "Ch. [3 cancelled]2" and half the next one? Or is it a reference to just the next half chapter? Or should it be understood as a reference to the insert material headed "Chapt. 2" (actually half a chapter in the sense that it became part of a chapter)? In "(De)Composing Frankenstein" I opted for either the second or the third of these possibilities. As it happens, the insert and the possible half chapter—which I supposed (mistakenly, I now believe) to be "Chap. 4" (a heading added at some point after the chapter was written; Vol. I, p. 55), the Last Draft material corresponding to the last half of the 1818 Chapter II (Rieger 40.18/1.2:69 ["The next morning"] to the end of the chapter)—are the two portions of the Last Draft concerned with Frankenstein’s "conversion" to modern science. This fits with the fact that the "Ch. [3 cancelled]2½" journal entry is immediately followed on 28, 29, and 30 October, and on 2 and 4 November by references to Mary Shelley’s reading Sir Humphry Davy’s "Chemistry" (Journals I:142-44). This reading was undertaken with relation to her writing at the time.

What needs to be accounted for here, and what I may have incorrectly accounted for in "(De)Composing Frankenstein," is the relationship between Mary Shelley’s chapter designation "[2 cancelled]3 and her journal reference to writing "Ch. [3 cancelled]2½." In "(De)Composing Frankenstein", with misplaced confidence, I claimed that "the fact that the same numbers are involved makes it a well-nigh certainty that the confused ‘Ch. [3 cancelled]2½’ refers to ‘Chapter [2 cancelled]3’ plus its originally non-chapter-designated continuation" (245). This was part of an argument for preferring the "Chap. 4" identification to the insert identification.

Pursuing a line of argument that did not occur to me when I wrote (and some six times revised) "(De)Composing Frankenstein," I am now convinced that the "Ch. [3 cancelled]2½" reference is to the insert, and I now favor the likelihood that the cancelled "3" and the replacement "2" refer to two different chapters and to the momentary confusion in Mary Shelley’s mind of those chapters. What the original journal entry—"Write Ch. 3½"—meant was that Mary Shelley had written an addition to Chapter 3. The revised journal entry— "Write Ch. 2½"—is to the same addition but it is now an addition to the previous chapter.

But it seems that the insert was originally to be a new "Chapt. 2" immediately preceding the original "Chapter 2," the chapter that was subsequently renumbered "Chapter 3" and that corresponds to Chapter II of the 1818 Volume One. The opening sentence of "Ch. [2 cancelled]3" and of the corresponding 1818 chapter—"When I had attained the age of seventeen my [father cancelled] [parents inserted by PBS, i.e., Percy Bysshe Shelley] resolved that I should [go to cancelled] [become a student at inserted by PBS] the university of Ingolstadt" (Vol. I, p. 47; cf. Rieger 37.9-10/1.2:61))—follows (as the original placement of the insert intended) directly on the insert "chapter" (which, with revisions, corresponds approximately to Rieger 32.15-35.2/1.1:51-56 ("Natural in my mind.") and 35.18-36.19/1.1:57-59 ("He replied... various literature"), the gap being the blasted oak tree business). The reference to "the age of seventeen" towards the end of the published version of the insert (Rieger 36.17/1.1:59)—corresponding to Percy Shelley’s substitution "age of," with the age unspecified (for Mary Shelley’s "that time"), in the manuscript insert (folio 3 verso)—dovetails with "the age of seventeen" reference quoted above at the beginning of the next chapter. Mary Shelley headed the insert "Chapt. 2" (at the time of writing) because it was to figure as a new "Chapter 2" or, on second thoughts perhaps, as a new opening section of the original "Chapter 2." But when she wrote "Write Ch. 3½" in her journal she had realized that that "Chapter 2" should actually be "Chapter 3." Later, she decided that it was more appropriate to shift the insert back into the preceding chapter and. perhaps later again, to divide it into two segments in place of deleted material on either side of the description of the blasted tree incident which then becomes a dramatic fulcrum. As a consequence of that realization and decision, she corrected her journal entry to read "Write Ch. [3 can-elled]2½." Thus can all the available, initially very confusing, data be accounted for. According to the scenario here outlined, "Chap. 4" of Last Draft Volume I was most probably written very shortly after the insert material (rather than shortly before) on one or more of the days that she was boning up on Sir Humphry Davy’s work. However, it should be emphasized that when Mary Shelley wrote the "Ch. 2½" insert she was able to anticipate what would transpire in what became "Chap. 4" partly because the Last Draft is something like a rough copy of a previous draft that no longer exists. But that rough draft version of what became the Last Draft "Chap. 4’ would have been consistent with a version of Frankenstein’s early exposure to science that the insert significantly alters.

The following chronology is intended to clarify the crowded sequence of Mary Shelley decisions here reconstructed:

(1) 26 October 1816: Mary Shelley finishes, or almost finishes, the original "Chapter 2" (the first half of the 1818 Chapter II) and is contemplating her rewrite of the chapter dealing with Frankenstein’s exposure to the science taught by professors Krempe and Waldman at the University of Ingolstadt when she realizes that she has not provided sufficient background for what is now to be a "conversion" experience.

(2) 27 October 1816: about to place Frankenstein in the "chaise" (Vol I, p. 53; Rieger 39.32/1.1:67) that is to convey him to Ingolstadt,10 or having already put him there, Mary Shelley deletes material on either side of the blasted tree paragraph in "Chapter 1" and, with some reference to the deleted material, writes the "Chapt. 2" insert (intended as a complete chapter to follow "Chapter 1"). Consequently, the "Chapter 2" completed the previous day will be renumbered "Chapter 3." But almost immediately Mary Shelley considers combining her new "Chapt. 2" and her new "Chapter 3." The new "Chapt. 2" would become the opening section of "Chapter 3"—hence the confused journal entry "Write Ch. 3½." (Alternatively, "Chapt. 2" was originally written as a new opening section to "Chapter 2" which, for whatever reason, was the same day changed to "Chapter 3.")

(3) By 28 October 1816 (see note 9 below), the decision to move the insert into "Chapter 1" is made. "Chapter 1" will be split into chapters 1 and 2 (unless, as speculated in note 8 below, "Chapter 1" was actually a first "Chapter 2" and the Walton letters constituted "Chapter 1"). The journal entry is corrected to "Write Ch. 2½."

(4) 28 October-4 November 1816: Mary Shelley writes what will become "Chap. 4" but she does not initially number the chapter because she is considering

(maybe since 27 October) moving the insert back into "Chapter 1" and turning "Chapter 1" into two chapters. Consequently, she cannot be sure what the number of the chapter she is writing will be.

(5) By 5 November 1816 "Chap. 5" (Vol. I, p. 61), the first half of the 1818 Chapter III (up to Rieger 48.18/1.3:87 ["nature will allow."]) is begun and so numbered at the time of writing and the previous chapter is numbered "Chap.4."

(6) On some unknown subsequent date—perhaps near the beginning of the Fair Copy stage (18 April-13 May 1817)—the insert is revised to fit its new split location.

(7) Finally, perhaps around 24 September 1817, a new transitional paragraph introducing the insert (see pages 14-15 below) is written. This was necessary since the beginning of the insert no longer marks the point at which "Chapter 1" was to be divided into two chapters.

For sf scholarship, the journal entry for 27 October 1816 now assumes extraordinary importance. If, as Brian Aldiss famously argues, Frankenstein is the first genuine work of sf, then 27 October 1816 is the birth date of sf. The insert marks the transition from the gothic novel to sf; it decisively tips the balance.

2. An understanding of the relationship between science and magic, or science and alchemy/the supernatural, in Frankenstein depends upon a close scrutiny of the manuscript variants to be found in the two relevant portions of the Last Draft and any variants in the corresponding portions of the three editions of Frankenstein (the 1818, the 1823, and the 1831) as well as the marginalia variants to be found in the copy of the 1818 edition that Mary Shelley gave to her friend Mrs. Thomas in 1823 (variants recorded in Rieger’s and Crook’s editions).11 All this evidence supports the conclusion that, although Frankenstein supposedly eschews the supernatural, magic, or alchemy in favor of modern science as a means of instilling life into dead tissue, the distinction between natural magic and alchemy on the one hand and natural philosophy and chemistry on the other, and that between religion and science, is blurred at every surviving stage of the text. Likewise, generically speaking, at every stage, Frankenstein blurs the distinction between the gothic romance form and sf. Mary Shelley seems to have envisaged a supernatural-magical-alchemical-scientific continuum and the most one can say about the published book is that the 1831 edition emphasizes the supernatural/alchemical end rather more than the 1818 and 1823 editions. In this respect it is well to remember that Frankenstein was written, according to the 1818 Preface, as the result of an agreement "to...write a story, founded on some supernatural occurrence" (Rieger 7/xii).

What follows is a review of the relevant evidence. In its original, pre-cancelled form, the Last Draft included this pre-blasted tree paragraph about Frankenstein’s early occult/scientific interests:

In this account of my early youth I wish particularly to [mention cancelled] ^record^ those circumstances which led to and nourished my taste for that science which was the principal amusement of my boyish days and in the end decided my destiny. I mentioned before my taste for old books of chemistry and natural magic and I remember very well that I learned latin principally that I might read Pliny’s Natural History my father refusing to allow me to read a translation. I used when very young to attend lectures of chemistry given in Geneva and athough I did not understand them the experiments never failed to attract my attention. (Vol. I, p. 43; throughout I have not sic-ed spelling mistakes and carets indicate above-the-line ^inserts^)

This paragraph follows one which appears in the 1818 edition and which concludes with the phrase "when Clerval was absent" (Vol. I. p. 43; Rieger 32.4/1.1:50). After that phrase, the published text diverges from the original Last Draft version until the account of the blasted tree in the Last Draft paragraph which follows immediately on the one I have just quoted. Note in the quoted paragraph the conjoining of "chemistry and natural magic...."

Frankenstein previously alludes to his "taste for old books of chemistry" in this original Last Draft sentence: "my amusements were studying old books of chemistry and natural magic those of Elizabeth were drawing & music" (Vol. I, p. 41; a sentence that is later cancelled and replaced in the margin by Percy Shelley’s "I delighted in investigating the facts relating to the actual world, she busied herself in ^following^ the aerial creations of the poets.- The world was to me a secret which I desired to discover,-to her it was a [haven cancelled] vacancy which she sought to people with imaginations of her own" [cf. Rieger 30.20-24/1.1:47-48]). Twice, then, Mary Shelley, in the original Last Draft, uses the term "natural magic" to indicate the nature of Frankenstein’s interests and twice she indicates that his interest in natural magic went hand in hand with his interest in chemistry. There are no further references to "natural magic" in the Last Draft. And the term is entirely absent from all three editions of Frankenstein but, as we shall see, what is involved—especially the invocation of natural but non-personal spirits, forces, or virtues to achieve some desired result—is alluded to at least twice in all three editions (as in the Last Draft).

The paragraph in the Last Draft describing the blasted tree corresponds to that in the 1818 and subsequent editions up to "The catastrophe of the tree excited my extreme astonishment" (Vol. I, p. 44; cf. Rieger 35.16/1.1:57). Thereafter the texts again diverge. The original Last Draft continues:

[and caused cancelled] ^induced^ [me to aply with fresh cancelled] diligence to the study of [chemistry cancelled by PBS] [^natural philosophy^ inserted by PBS] which promised an ex[clamatio cancelled]planation of th[i cancelled]ese sort of phænomena. On Elizabeth and Clerval it produced a very different effect. They admired the beauty of the storm without wishing to analyze its causes. Henry said that the Fairies and giants were at war and Elizabeth attempted a picture of it.

As I grew older my attempts in science were of a higher nature. I [endeavou cancelled] produced little earthquakes and tried every kind of combination of gasses [to cancelled] and elements to ascertain the results. (Vol. I, pp. 44-45)

The next paragraph in what may be presumed was Last Draft "Chapter 1" corresponds with the last two paragraphs of the 1818 first volume Chapter I. The published text rejoins the Last Draft with the words "Another task soon ^also^ devolved upon me ..." (Vol. I, p. 45; cf. Rieger 36.20/1.1:59). Clearly, in the original version of the Last Draft’s "Chapter 1," Frankenstein was interested in both ancient occult science and modern science from his boyhood onwards.

As Mary Shelley reconceived the chapter dealing with professors Krempe and Waldman at the University of Ingolstadt, these professors were to be instrumental in diverting Frankenstein from his early interest in only the occult sciences to a new interest in modern science. This plot change necessitated her writing the insert which she planned on placing at the beginning of the Chapter 2 of the Last Draft and her deleting (by a vertical line) both of the extended passages that I have quoted above. The insert was written to replace those passages and was in fact composed with those passages before her. We know this because in the midst of the portion of the insert which rewrites in expanded form the first cancelled passage (the complete paragraph) Mary Shelley accidentally began a sentence which corresponds to the sentence which begins the paragraph describing the blasted tree: "[When I was about fifteen my f cancelled]" (folio 2 verso). The corresponding Last Draft first Chapter 2 sentence begins as follows: "When I was about [twelve cancelled] ^fourteen^ years old ..." (vol. I, p.43). The corresponding 1818 sentence begins as follows: "When I was about fifteen years old . . ." (Rieger 35.3/1.1:56). The earlier sentence related to the "old books of chemistry" statement in the first cancelled passage was taken care of by the Percy Shelley substitution that I have already noted.

The decision to fit the insert into the previous chapter necessitated some revisions. Most probably, it was Percy Shelley who, after 24 September 1817 wrote this transitional paragraph (which is not in the Last Draft) to introduce the insert:

I feel pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind, and changed its bright visions of extensive usefulness into gloomy and narrow reflection upon self. But in drawing the picture of my early days, I must not omit to record those events which led, by insensible steps to my after tale of misery: for when I would account to myself for the birth of that passion, which afterwards ruled my destiny, I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but swelling as it proceeded, it became the torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys. (Rieger 32.5-14/1.1:50-51)12

There is one significant adjustment to the insert itself (in addition to splitting it into two portions which replace the two cancelled passages) that Mary Shelley probably made earlier, at the Fair Copy stage (18 April-13 May 1817; Journals I:168-69). In order to directly relate Frankenstein’s father’s explanation of electricity to the blasted tree, Mary Shelley follows the original Last Draft’s "The catastrophe of the tree excited my extreme astonishment" (Vol. I, p. 44; Rieger 35.16/1.1:57) with this new continuation from the original insert: "[And cancelled] [^Among other questions suggested by natural objects^ inserted by PBS] I [as cancelled] eagerly enquired of my father [what cancelled] [^the nature & the origin of^ inserted by PBS] thunder and lightning. [was. cancelled by Percy]" (folio 3 recto; cf. Rieger 35.17-18/1.1:57). With the shifted, slightly revised insert in place, the blasted tree dramatically signals Frankenstein’s "conversion" from alchemy and the occult to modern science, a distinction which does not exist in the two cancelled passages which the now divided insert replaces.

As a result of the Last Draft insert and the related Chapter 4 which follows, Frankenstein is supposedly "converted" from his passion for such ancient philosophers as Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, and Albertus Magnus to modern chemistry in particular. But in fact significant traces of Frankenstein the alchemist and natural magician remain in the Last Draft and in the three editions of Frankenstein.

3. As we have seen, the main purpose of the insert that Mary Shelley composed on 27 October 1816 was to establish—in place of what she had earlier written about Frankenstein’s interest in both the ancient philosophers and modern science—that in his youth Frankenstein was interested pretty much exclusively in the ancient philosophers and only after the blasted tree incident did he become interested in modern science and supposedly dismiss the ancient "sciences." A corollary purpose of the insert was to set up what became "Chap. 4" of the Last Draft (and the corresponding second half of the 1818 Chapter II) by explaining how any possible early interest in modern science was forestalled.

The reference to Frankenstein’s attending "lectures of chemistry" in his youth in the Last Draft "Chapter 1" had to go because Chapter 4 of the Last Draft has him attending an equivalent set of lectures given by Professor Waldman of Ingolstadt University. In what became the pre-blasted-tree portion of the insert, Frankenstein explains his ignorance of chemistry by observing that "our family was not scientifical[, supplied by PBS] and I [did cancelled] [^had^ inserted by PBS] not attend[ed added by PBS] any of the lectures given at Geneva" (Vol. I, folio 2 recto; cf. Rieger 34.5-7/1.1:54). Subsequently, in what became the post-blasted-tree portion of the insert (and what constitutes the toughest to read portion of the Last Draft), Frankenstein explains how it was that the one scientific lecture he did attend made little impression on him:

My father expressed a wish that I should attend a course of lectures upon natural philosophy, to which I [^cheerfully^ inserted by PBS; the words which follow, until the conclusion is noted, are cancelled by PBS’s zigzag line:] [and one evening cancelled by PBS] that I spent in town at the house of Clerval’s father I [heard that Mr.— was left at cancelled] met M. [O P cancelled] a proficient in Chemistry who left the company at an early hour to [h cancelled] give his lecture upon tha[n cancelled]t science enquiring as he went out [PBS’s zigzag cancellation ends here] [if any one would cancelled by PBS followed by words that may be conjectured as like to come or follow him also cancelled by PBS]. [I went but this lecture was unfortunately nearly the last cancelled by PBS] [^Some accident prevented my attending the series of these lectures until they were nearly over they it was nearly finished. The lecture which I attended being thus the almost the last in his^ inserted with cancellations by PBS] the [las cancelled]t in his course [^was entirely incomprehensible to me.^ inserted by PBS] the professor talked with the greatest fluency of potassium & Boron [zinc bismuth cancelled] - of sulphats and oxids [and displayed so many words cancelled by PBS] [^terms^ inserted by PBS] to which I could not affix [any cancelled by PBS] [^no^ inserted by PBS] idea [: inserted by PBS] [that cancelled by PBS] I was disgusted with [the appearance of cancelled by PBS] a science that appeared to me to contain only words. (Vol. I, folio 3 recto and verso; cf. Rieger 36.1-8/1.1:58)13

As a result of Percy Shelley’s zigzag cancellation, the lecture that Frankenstein attended was on natural philosophy rather than chemistry. In "Chap. 4" Professor Krempe gives the Ingolstadt university course on natural philosophy while Professor Waldman gives that on chemistry. The old term "natural philosophy"’ was the common eighteenth-century (and earlier) term for the physical sciences, especially physics but including chemistry. Four times, the term "natural philosophy" is linked with Professor Krempe in the Last Draft (Vol. I, pp. 55, 56; Rieger 40.20/1.2:69, 40.23/1.2:69, 41.8/1.2:70, and 41.11/ 1.2:70) and, in the same chapter, chemistry is described as a "branch of natural philosophy" (Vol. I, p. 59; Rieger 43.13/1.2:76). There are three occasions in the insert where "chemistry" is corrected to "natural philosophy." In addition to the Percy revision above, there is the earlier statement (in the second sentence of the insert) that "[Chemist cancelled] natural philosophy [has cancelled] is the genius that has regulated my fate... (Vol. I, folio 1 recto; cf. Rieger 32.15/1.1:51) and the later one to "my formerly adored study of ^the science of^ [chemistry cancelled] [^natural philosophy^ probably inserted by PBS]..." (Vol. I, folio 3 verso; cf. the abbreviated Rieger 36.7-8/1.1:58). The emphasis here that Frankenstein was not preoccupied in his early years with chemistry but with natural philosophy is consistent with the likelihood that the insert was drafted before "Chap. 4" and corrected afterwards.

Victor’s early interest was the ancient natural philosophers (including the natural magicians) as opposed to the modern ones; "natural philosophy" is a term which covers both categories. Note that his Last Draft "contempt for the uses of modern [chemistry cancelled] [natural philosophy inserted]" (Vol. I, p. 57) becomes "a contempt for . . . modern natural philosophy" in 1818 (Rieger 41.20/1.3:71). Like the term "natural magic," "natural philosophy" allows for a fusion of the metaphysical and science. The insert provides an explanation (which is excised in the 1831 edition) for what Professor Krempe in "Chap. 4" regards as the unlikely circumstance of his coming across "a disciple of Albertus Magnus and Paracelsus" (natural magicians or ancient natural philosophers) "in this enlightened and scientific age" (Vol. I, p. 56; Rieger 41.4-5/1.2:70). Victor’s father had an opportunity to set his son straight when he came across Victor reading a volume by another ancient philosopher, Cornelius Agrippa:

My father looked carelessly at the title page of my book—[Ah cancelled] and said Ah! Cornelius Agrippa!—My dear Victor do not waste your time upon this-it is sad trash. If instead of this remark or rather exclamation my father had taken the pains to exp[ound cancelled]lain to me that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely exploded. [and aan cancelled] and that [another cancelled] ^a modern^ system of science had been introduced which possessed much greater power than the ancient because the powers of the ancient were pretended and chimerical,14 while those of the moderns are real and practical; under such circumstances I should certainly have thrown Agrippa aside, and with my imagination warmed as it was [w cancelled sh supplied by PBS]ould probably have aplied myself to [m cancelled] the more [ra cancelled] rational theory of chemistry which [has at present the approbation of the learned cancelled] [^has resulted from modern discoveries It is even possible that the train of my ideas might never have recieved that fatal impulse which led to my ruin.^ inserted by PBS] But the cursory glance my father had taken of my volume by no means assured me that he was acquainted with [the cancelled] ^its^ contents; and I continued to read with the greatest avidity. (Vol. I, folio 1 recto and verso; cf. Rieger 32.28-33.14/1.1:52-53)

Maxianne Berger points out (40) that Victor’s indifferent response here is rendered more plausible in the 1818 text by changing the subsequent reference to Victor’s father’s "definite censure of my favorite Agrippa" (Vol. I, folio 2 recto) to "indefinite" (Rieger 33.20/1.1:54).

There is an inconsistency in the inserted material that is noted in the copy of the 1818 text that Mary Shelley gave to Mrs. Thomas in 1823 and which she corrected in 1831. In spite of the statement that "our family was not scientific" (folio 2 recto; Rieger 34.5-6/1.1:54), it is Victor’s father who explains the power of electricity after Victor witnessed the oak destroyed by lightning. At the bottom of that page in the Thomas copy an unknown backward-slanting hand penciled the comment, "you said your family was not sientific [sic]" (Crook 27, footnote "d"15) and, in the revised 1831 edition, after the new specification "My father was not scientific" (Joseph 4016), a convenient visitor, "a man of great research in natural philosophy" (Joseph 41) does the explaining. No doubt for the same reason, the more scientific references in what became the pre-blasted-tree portion of the insert—especially "Distillation, and the wonderful effects of steam" (Rieger 34.21-22/1.1:55; only the word "distillation" appears on folio 2 verso of the insert) and Percy’s "some experiments [electrical machine cancelled] on an air-pump" (Vol. I, folio 2 verso; cf. Rieger 34.24/1.1:56)—along with all of the post-stricken-tree portion of the insert, are excised in the 1831 rewrites of Rieger 33.19-34.8/1.1:54 ("and although reality; and"), 34.20-35.2/1.155-56 ("The natural phænomena my mind."), and 35.16-37.8/1.1:57-60 ("The catastrophe of...of each other."). At the end of the next chapter in the Thomas copy—Chapter II of the 1818 Volume One—Mary Shelley emphasized the need for a thorough rewrite: "If there were ever to be another edition of this book, I should re-write these two first chapters. The incidents are tame and ill arranged—the language sometimes childish.—They are unworthy of the rest of the [w book deleted] narration" (Rieger 43, asterisked footnote; Crook 34, footnote a).

In the 1831 revision of the first two 1818 and 1823 chapters (which includes Victor’s family history as well as his intellectual history) it appears that Victor did study the modern natural philosophers—Sir Isaac Newton is mentioned—as well as the ancient ones. There is a hint at this even-handedness in the post-blasted-tree-portion-of-the-insert statement that "I still read with delight Pliny [A.D. 23-79] and Buffons [1707-88] authors [that stood about on a par cancelled, above which is PBS’s ^ar of^ cancelled] my estimation. [of nearly equal interest & utility added by Percy]" (Vol. I, folio 3 verso; cf. Rieger 36.9-10/1.1: 58-59). But, according to the 1831 rewrite, "In spite of the intense labour and wonderful discoveries of modern philosophers, I always came from my studies discontented and unsatisfied" (Joseph 39). And while his experience of the power of electricity overthrows Victor’s ancient idols in both the 1818 and 1831 editions, in the latter Victor dismisses the modern natural philosophers as well: "It seemed to me as if nothing would or could ever be known" (Joseph 41). Consequently instead of turning to both mathematics and languages, as in the 1818 insert, in 1831 he devotes himself solely to mathematics because "that science" was "built upon secure foundations..." (Joseph 41).

These changes in Frankenstein’s early interests result in changed interactions with both professors Krempe and Waldman. Whereas in 1818 Krempe "received me with politeness" (Rieger 40.21/1.2:69), in 1831 Krempe impresses Victor as "an uncouth man" (Joseph 45) whose questions on natural philosophy cause Victor to respond with the virtual reverse of the 1818 "fear and trembling" (Rieger 40.23-24/1.2:69): "I replied carelessly; and partly in contempt, mentioned the names of my alchymists as the principal authors I had studied" (Joseph 45). He goes on to reiterate in an 1831 insert that "As a child," he had "retrod the steps of knowledge along the paths of time, and exchanged the discoveries of recent enquirers for the dreams of forgotten alchymists" (Joseph 46). After attending Waldman’s lecture in the 1831 text, Victor, in a state of turmoil, resolves "to return to my ancient studies, and to devote myself to a science for which I believed myself to possess a natural talent" (Joseph 48). That "science"—alchemy—has just been implied in the 1831 edition by the two references to "alchymists," a term nowhere used, albeit clearly implied by the ancient philosophers named, especially Paracelsus, in the Last Draft and the 1818 edition. Alchemy, like "natural magic," to which it is allied, is the somewhat suppressed foundation of Frankenstein’s ambitions in the 1818 edition. In 1831, Victor is simply more "up front" about his plan to yoke the modern science of chemistry and the work of the modern natural philosophers to the grand ambitions associated with the ancient alchemists.

Consequently it is a rather more devious Victor who in 1831 approaches Professor Waldman for what he can get out of him: "I expressed myself in measured terms, with the modesty and deference due from a youth to his instructor, without letting escape (inexperience in life would have made me ashamed) any of the enthusiasm which stimulated my intended labours" (Joseph 49). Any interest in chemistry is strictly subservient to Victor’s alchemical ambitions. In Maxianne Berger’s words, "In 1831, Mary replaces the naive, assiduous, would-be chemist of 1818 by an avowed alchemist..." (47).

4. It is appropriate at this point to recall the overlap between alchemy and "natural magic," a term twice introduced and then twice deleted in the Last Draft insert. As I have noted, it appears nowhere else in the surviving Frankenstein manuscripts and nowhere in the three published editions. It is, of course, implicit in Frankenstein’s recollection (originating in the shifted insert) that his enthusiasm for the ancient philosophers began at age 13 when he "chanced to find a [fo cancelled] volume[s cancelled] of the works of Cornelius Agrippa" (Vol. I, folio 1 recto; cf. Rieger 32.20-21/1.1:51; cf. Joseph 39), the German physician and occultist (1486-1535). No doubt that volume was De Occulta Philosophia libra tres (1533), translated into English by John French in 1651, a revision of the first part of which translation appeared in 1897 as Three Books of Occult Philosophy or Magic: Book One—Natural Magic.

The very nebulous term "natural magic" has a long and complicated history. In Kitty W. Scoular’s words, During the sixteenth century it stood as a descriptive term on the borderline between a mystical Paracelsan alchemy involving a supposed communion with the hidden forces of nature, and a more modern conception of scientific effort.... the suspicion of magic among the early Fathers of the Church gave place gradually to the acceptance of ‘natural magic’ which was lawful and distinct from the evil practices of the necromancers.... (4)

In her eight volume History of Magic and the Experimental Sciences, Lynn Thorndike devotes two chapters to natural magic, the first in her sixteenth century coverage and the second in her coverage of the seventeenth.17 She defines natural magic as "the working of marvelous effects, which may seem preternatural, by a knowledge of occult forces in nature without resort to supernatural assistance" (VII: 272)—and especially without resort to diabolical assistance. Thorndike gives an account of professor Matthias Mairhofer’s famous "philosophical disputation" regarding natural magic in 1581 at the University of Ingolstadt (VI: 414-18)—the university that Frankenstein would attend—and mentions a citation of "the artificial production of human beings" as V. Rasis and Giulio Camillo’s particular natural magic project (VI: 431). Frankenstein seems to have begun as a natural magician like Sir Francis Bacon whose interest was "harnessing nature for the practical benefit of mankind" (Scoular 4).

There are two occasions when the spirits or dæmons of natural magic (as opposed to, or—in my second quote—in addition to, the spirits of the dead) are alluded to. In the first instance, Clerval, in the company of Frankenstein, exclaims as follows: "Oh Surely the spirit that inhabits & guards this place [somewhere alongside the Rhine] has a soul more in [sympathy cancelled] ^harmony^ with man than those who pile the glacier or retire to the inaccessible peaks of the mountains of our own country" (Vol. II, p. 106; cf. Rieger 153.24-27/3.1:17). In the second instance, Frankenstein is speaking: "I knelt on the earth and with [a deleted] quir[v cancelled]ering lips exclaimed - By the Sacred earth [^on which^ inserted by PBS] I kneel [on deleted], by the shades [I deleted] ^that^ wander near me. By the deep & eternal grief that I feel I swear—and by thee oh night and by the spirits that preside over thee I swear to pursue the dæmon who caused this misery . . ." (Vol. II, p. 174; cf. Rieger 199.31-200.1/3.7:136-37). The same exclamation and invocation are also to be found in the 1823 and 1831 editions. Frankenstein’s frequent use of the term "dæmon" for the monster here and elsewhere, links the monster with the benevolent spirits of natural magic.18 (The secondary meaning, "evil spirit" or "devil," is more commonly associated with the alternative spelling "demon.") Of possible relevance here is the monster’s reflection at the narrative’s conclusion that after his body has been immolated, "My spirit will sleep in peace" (PBS Fair Copy Vol. III, p. 187; Rieger 221.8/3.7:192; in place of this in the Last Draft, Vol. II, p. 203, is the reassurance that "the flame that consumes my body will give [rest & blessings cancelled by PBS] [^enjoyment or tranquillity^ an agnostic replacement inserted by PBS]"). This reflection seems less a reference to his Christian soul than an allusion to one of the benevolent spirits of natural magic which imbued him with life.

The most vital spirit in Frankenstein—at all stages of its textual history—is the natural spirit of magnetism/electricity. Under the heading "Magnetism" in Frankenstein’s Creation I argue that electro-magnetism is the symbolic link between "Walton’s quest for the North Pole and Frankenstein’s interest in animating dead flesh..." (78). At the North Pole (where, according to a revealing Thomas copy substitution, "the aspect of nature differs ensentially from anything of which we have any experience" [Crook, "Textual Variants" 183 n3; cf. Rieger 10.11-12; my emphasis]), Walton hopes to "discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle" and "the secret of the magnet" (Rieger 10.12-13/1.1:3 and 10.26-27/1.1:4; the portions of the Last Draft and Fair Copy which would have contained corresponding statements are no longer extant). Frankenstein, we are led to believe, uses the natural power of electricity to imbue his assemblage of natural human remains with life. In Frankenstein’s Creation I also argue that the dæmon "is at least as much a creation of the" sublime Alpine setting as of the laboratory (70). Thus it is the partially suppressed notion of natural magic—evident as the natural spirits or powers of Mont Blanc and other mountains, and the moon, in addition to magnetism, and electricity—which provides the foundation for all of Frankenstein’s supposedly more modern scientific endeavours.

The sequence of textual changes relating to ancient and modern natural philosophy reveals a fluctuating elision of the distinction, and a circular development from Frankenstein as natural magician/alchemist to Frankenstein as alchemist/natural magician. His intermediate career as a would-be modern chemist, while present in the 1831 text is more valued and clearly distinguished in the 1818 edition, partly as a consequence of the replacement— mainly by Percy Shelley—of the word "chemistry" by the term "natural philosophy" in the Last Draft insert and other places, whereby chemistry can be understood either as virtually synonymous with natural philosophy or, more accurately, distinguished as an aspect of modern natural philosophy. By 1831 however, "natural philosophy" has in effect more thoroughly displaced chemistry to the extent that the inclusive term’s embracing of both natural magic and alchemy has been emphasized. Summarily put, the distinction between magic and science which first comes into sharp focus in the 27 October 1816 insert (and then again in the encounters with professors Kempe and Waldman as written immediately afterwards) was, in the corresponding places, blurred in the pre-27 October manuscript novel, and became somewhat blurred again in the revised 1831 edition.

Throughout its history, sf has repeatedly intermingled or fused the metaphysical/supernatural and the scientific. For such works to be persuasively categorized as sf, it is only necessary that the scientific elements predominate over the metaphysical. In the case of Frankenstein, the metaphysical and the scientific (as represented in the shifted insert which is divided into two by a lightning bolt) achieve an ambiguous balance or perhaps near balance. Thus one might conclude that the 1818 and 1823 editions (and the Last Draft) are sf and the 1831 edition (at least without Mary’s "Introduction") is not. The 1831 "Introduction," with its references to "the experiments of Dr. Darwin," "galvanism," and "the working of some powerful engine" in Mary Shelley’s night-time vision, affects the interpretation of the novel by providing it with what might be construed as an sf frame (see Sutherland 25, 31).

In all three editions of Frankenstein the fusion of the natural and the "supernatural," the physical and the metaphysical is embodied in the power of electricity which is apparently used to animate the monster. There is no direct statement to that effect, only young Frankenstein’s witnessing an oak tree blasted by lightning and in the 1818 text (but not the 1831) his father’s subse-uent electrical experiments; film directors have concretized and elaborated on what Mary Shelley ambiguously hints at. But to the extent that electricity in the novel is a spirit, a dæmon, it operates within the realm of natural magic, the term that Mary Shelley, according to the extant manuscript evidence, first used (alongside chemistry) to characterize Frankenstein’s early studies.19

To a notable degree there is a correlation, on the one hand, between the scientific/rationalistic aspects of Frankenstein (evidenced especially by the influence of Davy’s chemistry and Locke’s empirical philosophy) and the first half of the Last Draft, which is on Continental paper (except for the insert which is on British paper) and which ends with Safie’s story (the 1818 Chapter VI of Volume Two) and, on the other hand, between the supernatu-ral/superstitious/religious aspects of the novel and the second half of the Last Draft, which is all on British paper. Frankenstein’s contrasting attitudes towards graveyards are paradigmatic of this difference. In the first half of the Last Draft, Frankenstein offers this rationalistic self-characterization:

I do not ever remember having trembled at a [ghost story deleted by PBS] [^tale of superstition^ inserted by PBS], or to have feared the apparition of [^a^ inserted by PBS] spirit [ligh deleted] darkness had no effect upon my fancy and a churchyard was to me merely [^as^ inserted by PBS] the receptacle of [rotten b deleted] bodies deprived of life and [becoming deleted by PBS] [^which^ inserted by PBS] from being the seat of beauty & strength [^became^ inserted by PBS] food for the worm. (Vol. I, p. 64; cf. Rieger 47.2-7/1.3:83)

In the second half of the Last Draft it is a markedly superstitious Frankenstein who visits the graves of his brother, wife, and father: "The spirits of the [d deleted] ^departed^ seemed to flit around, and ^to cast^ a [gentle hallow deleted by PBS] [shadow which was felt but seen not added by PBS] around ^the^ head of the mourner." This is followed by his invocation to elemental powers and "the spirits of the dead" that I have previously quoted (Vol. II, pp. 173-74; cf. Rieger 199.25-200.8/3.7:136-37). (It is also anomalous—as John Sutherland points out [31]—that the guilty creation of the monster’s mate on a remote Orkney island, described in the second half of the Last Draft, seems mysteriously [preternaturally?] ex nihilo, seems not to require the availability of corpses, an essential aspect of Frankenstein’s first creation.)

In "(De)Composing Frankenstein," I note the difficulty of proving that the Continental paper, first half of the Last Draft was written, as one would naturally suppose, before the British paper second, and discuss evidence suggesting that the second half of the Last Draft, or a large portion thereof, may, in fact, have been written before the first (Ketterer 249-50, 252-64). Of course, the sense, based on intrinsic data, that the second half of the Last Draft represents an earlier conception of the novel can equally well, or perhaps better, be explained by the indications that the second half of the Last Draft is closer than the first to the no-longer-extant rough draft ur-Frankenstein of which it is largely a rough copy, and that the first half is a much more heavily revised rough copy of the same ur-Frankenstein. Certainly, the second half of the Last Draft is much cleaner than the first. In either case, the portion of Frankenstein which corresponds to the second half of the Last Draft reflects what appears to be Mary Shelley’s original gothic, supernatural, Faustian, "orientalist,"20 "ghost story" conception of the novel, and the portion of Frankenstein which corresponds to the first half of the Last Draft, including especially the "Chapt. 2" insert, her subsequent much more rational and scientific conception. In short, the manuscript evidence indicates that the sf Frankenstein was, in significant ways, an overlay—a dramatic and revolutionary overlay—initiated on 27 October 1816.


1. All references to, and quotations from, the 1818 text of Frankenstein are cited by page and line numbers in James Rieger’s edition followed, after a slash, by volume, chapter, and page numbers in the 1818 edition itself. My argument in this article will be much clearer if it is read with Rieger’s edition, or Nora Crook’s new scholarly edition, close at hand. Once it is available in paperback, Crook’s edition will replace Rieger’s. For the moment, however, the ready availability of Rieger, along with its useful line numbering, make it the obvious citation choice. At the same time, my post-slash (/) volume, chapter, and page citations from the original 1818 edition (e.g.: /1.1:51) can be easily located in Crook since she includes the corresponding 1818 pagination within brackets at the top of each page and a page-change indicating "/"in her 1818 text. The 1818 pages are small. Crook gets almost four of them to one of her pages. Consequently, quotations from 1818 pages are locatable almost as quickly in Crook as in Rieger.

In between my returning the page proofs of this article and its publication, Charles E. Robinson’s facsimile edition of the Frankenstein manuscripts, The Frankenstein Notebooks, will become available. The comparative 1818 text in The Frankenstein Notebooks also includes the 1818 pagination in brackets. I am most grateful to Charles E. Robinson for reading the first version of this article, for making suggestions, and for correcting errors in the quotations from my transcription of the Last Draft. Such quotations are published with the kind permission of Lord Abinger.

I am also grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for a 1992-95 Research Grant which enabled my work on the Frankenstein manuscripts.

2. This article provides me with an opportunity to correct an error on pages 24-25 of "The Corrected Frankenstein" noted by Brian Aldiss (letter to Ketterer, 15 April 1996). In the article, I trace what I mistakenly read as an omitted "n" in the following quote to the same "error" in the Last Draft: "[Safie] sickened at the prospect of again returning to Asia, and the[n] being immured within the walls of a haram..." (Rieger 119.23/2.6:89). I persistently misread this; "the being immured within the walls of a haram" is, of course, a perfectly acceptable gerund construction. There are unfortunately a number of typos in my article because the page proofs were mistakenly sent to Canada while I was in England. The only substantively significant of these occurs on page 30. After note number "19," the following sentence should be inserted: "‘Five years’ is, in fact, the period specified in the Last Draft" (Vol. I, p. 115).

Six of the twelve preferred Last Draft readings that I draw attention to are adopted in the new scholarly edition of the 1818 Frankenstein edited by Nora Crook (the others appear as footnoted possibilities). I now wish to propose three more. (1) The Last Draft "She was no longer that happy creature [she had been when I last saw her canceled by PBS] [who in earlier youth had added in margin by PBS] - [PBS had over MWS who] wandered with [on cancelled] me... (Vol. I, pp. 142-43) becomes "She was no longer that happy creature, who in earlier youth wandered with me... (Rieger 88.1-3/2.1:8). The 1818 text was not changed in 1823 or 1831 but it seems likely that Percy Shelley’s "had"—because of the overwritten additional "had"—was accidentally omitted at the fair copy or typesetting phase and should be restored. (2) The Last Draft "I who have so disinterested an affection for you" (Vol. II, p. 152; the monster is addressing Frankenstein) becomes "I, who have so interested an affection for you" in the 1818 and 1823 editions (Rieger 185.19-20/3.5:99; II: 168). Only in the 1831 edition is "disinterested" restored (Joseph 188). But there is a previously unnoted correction in the copy of the 1818 edition that Mary Shelley gave to Mrs. Thomas (see note 15 below): Mary Shelley’s correction "dis" appears before "interested." It seems clear that "interested" was an error introduced either at the Fair Copy stage or by the compositor. (3) There is a further preferred reading in the Last Draft which I overlooked in Frankenstein’s exhortatory address to Walton’s crew:" You were to ^be^ hereafter hailed as ^the^ benefactors of your species - Your names adored as the brave men who encountered death for honor... (Vol. II, page 191; carets indicate above the line insertions). In the 1818 one-sentence equivalent, the singular form "name" appears (Rieger 212.13/3.7:169). Although Crook points out that the plural form appears in the Last Draft, as a correction in the 1818 Thomas copy, and in the 1823 and 1831 editions (Crook c n26, 227 n17), "name" is not amended in her text. For whatever reason, Crook does not cite the Fair Copy where the plural "names" also appears (page 167). That is surely the clinching evidence for emendation. The plural form appears everywhere except in the 1818 edition.

3. On pages 256 and 274 of "(De)Composing Frankenstein" I give the impression that the alternative name "Amina" for a character finally named "Safie" only occurs twice. It actually occurs five times in total, all in the same manuscript paragraph.

Also in "(De)Composing Frankenstein" I hypothesise about a puzzling notation in Mary Shelley’s journal for 23 October 1817: "[write cancelled] translate F." (I: 182). Editors Feldman and Scott-Kilvert point out that "‘F’ is written clearly in the manuscript, but is probably a mistake for ‘S.’ [Spinoza] or ‘A’ [Apuleius], both of which they were translating at this time" (Journals I:182 n4). Feldman and Scott-Kilvert are mistaken. So too is Mary Shelley’s biographer, Emily Sunstein, who supposes that the entry refers to Mary Shelley’s translating some of Frankenstein, "probably into French" (146). I suggest in the continuation of my footnote 11 on page 242 that "translate" here means "transfer" and refers to duplicate Fair Copy pages in Mary Shelley’s hand. I have now realized (thanks largely to a telephone conversation with Charles E. Robinson) that "translate" here also means "alter" and "improve," and refers to a revision of the Last Draft account of Frankenstein and Clerval’s stay in Oxford, a revision that, in part, draws directly on an experience three days previous that Mary Shelley records in her journal entry for 21 October 1817: "On Monday [20 October] go to Hambden in a gig with Papa-see Hambdens [John Hampden’s] monument" (I: 181). The revised account in the 1818 edition includes three sentences related to a visit to "the tomb of the illustrious Hampden" (Rieger 158.14-22/3.2:28). The entire revised account amounts to just over three paragraphs (replacing just under two Last Draft paragraphs); it begins "As we entered this city" (Rieger 157.4/3.2:25) and ends "We left Oxford with regret, and proceeded to" (Rieger 158.23/3.2:29). Percy Shelley is referring to this very revision in his letter to the publisher of Frankenstein dated 28 October 1817: "I thought it necessary to add that I shall not find it necessary in future to trouble the printer with any considerable alterations such as he will find in the present sheet & that which immediately preceded it" (Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley I:565). The Oxford rewrite, then, "the present sheet," would seem to have been the last extended revision that Mary Shelley made to her manuscript. As for the preceding sheet—which I assume was sent on a date in between Percy Shelley’s letter to Lackington dated 23 October (with its reference to his correcting the "few instances of baldness of style" only) and the next extant, the above-noted letter of 28 October 1817—that must have been the sheet including the last six paragraphs of the preceding chapter (Chapter I of Volume Three), the first three of which (Rieger 153.28/3.1:17 ["Clerval! beloved friend!"] to 154.25/3.1:19) are not in the Last Draft. A paragraph which is in the Last Draft (in between the Rieger paragraph ending at 154.28 ["to aid us."] and the next one beginning at 154.29 ["Our journey"]) was deleted and a variant (a revision?) of it appears in the Shelleys’ History of a Six Weeks’ Tour (see Ketterer, "(De)Composing Frankenstein" 254 n19; Mary Shelley last records working on that book on 12 October 1817 [Journals I:181]). The above reconstruction lends some support to my hypothesis in "(De)Composing Frankenstein" (264 n26) that nine "translate" entries in Mary Shelley’s journal between 7 and 16 August 1816 (I:123-26) might refer to her transferring, or changing, rough draft material into Last Draft material in her British notebook (and not to her translating Tacitus’s Annales, which Percy Shelley was reading at the time).

A new question now arises. Were the alterations in the preceding sheet—the three new paragraphs (including, at the end of the first, the extract from Wordsworth’s "Tintern Abbey")—contributed by Percy Shelley? My colleague, Gerald Auchinachie, who is knowledgeable about Percy Shelley, informs me that instances of Percy Shelley’s vocabulary and ideas are prominent in the paragraphs concerned. According to Auchinachie’s note to me, Frederick Ellis’s Lexical Concordance to the Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley indicates that "There are 22 instances of ‘overflow’ plus variants; ‘ardent’ and variants equal 6; ‘ardour’ 9; ‘gentle and x’ is a Shelleyan phrase and the word ‘gentle’ occurs over a hundred times. There are 93 ‘divines’ (not counting cognates like ‘diviner’ etc. The entries under ‘bright’ are virtually endless—it must be the Shelleyan word; ‘gush’ is used twice and with cognates 9 times; ‘ineffectual’ is there only twice (cf. Arnold’s calling Shelley a ‘beautiful ineffectual angel’). The phrase ‘human sympathies’ is there but only once. There are countless entries under ‘world.’ The idea of the mind perishing with the body is a frequent Shelleyan speculation." For Auchinachie’s report on another paragraph which Percy Shelley may have contributed see note 12 below.

4. See Chapter 1 ("The Origins of the Species: MARY SHELLEY") in Aldiss, Billion Year Spree, 7-39. Revised—more confidently—as "On the Origin [singular] of Species: Mary Shelley" in Trillion Year Spree, 29-65.

5. Here and elsewhere, I spell out the three volume numbers of the 1818 edition (as in Rieger’s edition but not in the original) to distinguish them from volumes I and II of the Last Draft.

6. Although the heading is in the same ink as what follows, the fact that it slightly overlaps the first line of what follows suggests that it was inserted—squeezed in—at some point while the insert was being drafted. Dr. Bruce C. Barker Benfield, Senior Assistant Librarian at the Bodleian Library’s Department of Western Manuscripts, has examamined the heading under a magnifying glass. His conclusions are as follows: "The combined evidence of layout and overlapping strokes makes it more or less certain that MWS did not write the heading before she began drafting, but the similarity of the ink probably indicates that she put it in at the same sitting. It could be that she inserted the heading fairly soon, after writing no more than a few lines of fol. 1r [1 recto]; but my confidence in this is somewhat shaken by the observation of the return of the nib to something like its original thickness by the end of fol. 3v [3 verso], allowing the alternative possibility that she inserted the heading at the end of the sitting rather than near the beginning" (letter to Ketterer, 12 August 1996).

7. The Last Draft is divided into two volumes which do not coincide with the two notebooks used. The beginning of Volume II (which is in the first notebook) corresponds to the beginning of Chapter III of Volume Two of the three-volume 1818 edition.

8. This is also to assume that the missing opening 40 pages were not all part of an extraordinarily long "Chapter 1" or that Mary Shelley did not mistakenly number two chapters "Chapter 2" (just as she later headed two successive chapters "Chapter 7th" and "Chap. 7" [Vol. I, pp. 75 and 85]) after giving the Walton opening frame a "Chapter 1" designation.

9. Actually misnoted as "2½] over 3" (Journals II:700)—it is only the "2" which is over the "3." Dr. Barker Benfield, having examined the change under a magnifying glass, writes, "The over-written ‘2’ is in a stronger tint of the same grey ink as the surrounding letters; the stronger tint could be simply because the pen had just been redipped, but perhaps more likely because the same ink had been restirred—i.e. slightly but not much later." He thinks it most probable that Mary Shelley "originally wrote ‘Write Ch.3 ½.-Fin|ish...’ ["the ½ has definitely not been squeezed in later"] and then came back only slightly later—during the period of her restir—and altered the ‘3’ to a ‘2’.... MWS might have come back and made this alteration at any time during the two days 27 and 28 Oct. when the same ink-mix was evidently in use (with occasional restirring), but not later" (letter to Ketterer, 22 August 1996).

10. There is a pagination glitch here which may mark the exact moment when Mary Shelley turned to writing the insert—the previous page (which ends with "a mother’s blessing would have accompanied me.") is numbered 51; at the top of the following page, which is numbered 53, with a newly sharpened nib, Mary Shelley wrote: "I threw myself into the chaise...."

11. My study of the variants which follows is indebted to a paper which Maxianne Berger (see Works Cited) wrote for my Fall 1993 graduate course "Contemporary Critical Approaches, Textual Scholarship, and Frankenstein." Although my arguments differ in places from hers, we arrive at essentially the same conclusions.

For the variants in the 1823 edition of Frankenstein (for which Mary’s father, William Godwin, seems to have been responsible and none of which bear on the present "conversion" issue), see the list in E. B. Murray’s 1982 article (320-23). Because my collation of the 1818 and 1823 editions in the British Library revealed eight variants additional to Murray’s 114, I record them here. Murray somewhat confusingly keys his list to "the page numbers in the [1831] Joseph edition [which contains the corrections of the 1823 edition which Mary used as the copytext basis for her 1831 revision], listing the 1818 reading first and the 1823 correction second. Asterisks... indicate changes not in [the 1874] Rieger" (320). My listing is keyed to the Rieger page and line numbers/the 1818 volume, chapter, and page numbers [the 1823 chapter and page numbers, which are all in Volume II/the 1831 Joseph page references appear in brackets after the 1823 reading]:

Rieger 112.28/2.5:73 *or herself]nor herself [1:4/117]

Rieger 115.29/2.5:79 acquisitions]advantages [1:11/120]

Rieger 124.11/2.7:101 *unlike]unlike to [3:33/128]

Rieger 125.17/2.7:104 *created apparently]apparently [3:36/129]

Rieger 156.30/3.2:25 *packed]packed up [7:113/159]

Rieger 170.16-17/3.3:60 *very much]much [8:148/173]

Rieger 172.10/3.4:65 *all]at [9:153/174]

Rieger 206.8/3.7:153 *still pursue]pursue [12:241/208]

The correction at Rieger 125.17 is among the thirteen "Additional 1818/1831 Variants" on the final page 288 of his 1982 edition. The "Endnotes: Textual Variants" in Crook’s new scholarly edition of the 1818 text, which provide for the first time a properly sequential collation of the 1818 edition, the Thomas copy autograph corrections, the 1823 edition, and the 1831 edition, add nine substantive differences in the 1823 edition to Murray’s list (see Crook xcvi). Missing, however, are the two variants above at Rieger 170.16 and 206.8 (see Crook 220, superscript 12; and Crook 226, superscript 15; in the second case, the corresponding superscript number 15 which should be in the text is missing at Crook 159, line 8 [1818: III. 153]).

12. This paragraph, like the three possible Percy Shelley paragraphs discussed in note 4 above, weds water and recollection. Gerald Auchinachie writes: "I realize as do you that the metaphor comparing the cycles of life to a fountain-spring-river-sea is not exclusive to Shelley though that it should occur in Alastor (almost contemporaneous) is of some interest. The Concordance reports that in Queen Mab there occurs the line "Poisoned the spring of happiness and life." The entries under ‘taint,’ ‘taintless’ and ‘poison’ are interesting: e.g., ‘taintless infancy,’ ‘Taintless body and mind.’ The phrase ‘mountain river’ occurs twice in Shelley: ‘Hymn to Intellectual Beauty’ and ‘Laon and Cyntha.’ The phrase ‘hopes and joys’ is there once in the fragment ‘Home,’ though Shelley is littered with ‘hopes and fears’ and ‘hopes and x’; ‘life’s dark river That time’ etc. is Shelleyan; ‘torrent’ also bulks large in Shelley. The ‘ideas’: stainless innocence spotted by an obsession is there in Alastor as is the river-life comparison." Should this early added paragraph in Frankenstein be understood as repairing one of the "abruptnesses" that Mary Shelley mentions in her letter to Percy Shelley of 24 September 1817? "I send you my dearest another proof—which arrived tonight in looking it over there appeared to me some abruptnesses which I have endeavored to supply—but I am tired and not very clear headed so I give you carte blanche to make what alterations you please" (Letters I:42). (The three paragraph "eulogy" discussed in note 4, of course, prepares for the abruptness of Clerval’s imminent death.)

13. On page 28 of her 1818 text, Crook’s footnote "a" glossing the list of scientific terms points out that "The first two are anachronistic, being the names of elements isolated by Humphry Davy in 1807 and by Gay-Lussac in 1808; the last two were coined by Lavoisier and others and made current c. 1787. The terms are probably derived from Mary Shelley’s reading of Davy. The spelling [in the 1818 text] ‘oxyd’ was favored by English scientists, ‘oxide’ [the Last Draft spelling except for the "e"] by the French." But, according to the OED, ‘oxide’ (the original French spelling) has been the preferred English spelling since the nineteenth century.

14. Mary Shelley’s reference to the "chimerical" powers of the ancients here is recalled in the "Chap. 4" encounter with Professor Krempe by her reference (again speaking for Frankenstein) to the ancient’s "expulsion of chimera...." Although Percy Shelley deleted this phrase and its immediate sketchy context, he "picks up the term ‘chimera’ from Mary’s original" (Berger 43) in his revision in the margin:

the [utmost cancelled] ambition of [the] enquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest in science was chiefly founded. I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth. (Vol. I, p. 57; cf. Rieger 41.23-26/1.2:71)

Percy Shelley here considerably sharpens Frankenstein’s view of the choice between ancient philosophy and modern science.

16. Rieger 35 n8 quotes the same Thomas copy comment and opines—wrongly— that "The hand is probably Mrs. Shelley’s . . . ." There are errors in both Rieger’s and Crook’s transcriptions of the Thomas copy variants and comments. Crook mentions (182) using the 1962 microfilm and Rieger probably also worked from the microfilm. My recent examination of the actual Thomas copy in the Pierpont Morgan Library has resulted in an article-in-progress entitled "The Thomas Copy of Frankenstein: A Full Description and (Almost) Complete Transcription of Revisions, Notes, and Under-linings." For example, what is represented as a slash in "the illustrious Hampden,/and the field" (Rieger 158.14-15/3.2:28; Crook 220 n6) is actually a cut in the page which bisects the "n" of "and" and which continues either side as a curving indentation made by a sharp implement. And both Rieger and Crook overlook the marginal "dis" added before "interested" (the first word in the line) on 3.5:99 of the Thomas copy (one of only three Thomas copy changes to be exactly reproduced in the 1831 edition; see also note 2 above). The pencilled additions on 1.1:42 (in the backwards-sloping hand in the lower left margin and at the foot of the page) and on 1.1:43 (at the foot of the page, perhaps in Mary Shelley’s hand) of the Thomas copy, which have been almost entirely erased, are not noted by Rieger or Crook. Unfortunately, they remained indecipherable to me (except for a line-beginning "to" and a line-beginning "of" on 1.1:43) in spite of the application of a magnifying glass and ultra-violet light.

17. Crook’s list of "Unauthorized Variants" (229) demonstrates the unreliability of Joseph’s edition of the 1831 Frankenstein. Consequently, all the quotations from Joseph in this article have been checked against the 1831 original. I cite Joseph simply because his edition of 1818 is among the currently most easily available.

18. See the chapters entitled "Natural Philosophy and Natural Magic" (VI: 390-436) and "Natural Magic" (VII: 272-322).

19. Mary Shelley has a number of different names for Frankenstein’s creation. According to one person’s count in the 1831 edition, "A simple word-tally shows ‘monster’, with 27 appearances, to have won by a short head from ‘fiend’ (25), followed by ‘dæmon’ (18), ‘creature’ (16), ‘wretch’ (15), and ‘devil’ (8); ‘being’ (4) and ‘ogre’ (1) also ran (Baldick 10 n1). Naming is a central issue in the novel, and the naming of Mary Shelley herself can also be problematic. The title itself, Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, is the outstanding and representative example of periphrastic naming in the novel (see Duyfhuizen). Famously, Frankenstein’s name is often confused with the unnamed monster. The author of the 1818 edition of Frankenstein was also unnamed. See my article, "(De)Composing Frankenstein: The Import of Altered Character Names in the Last Draft," for the variant names Carigan/Clerval, Myrtella/Elizabeth, Amina/Maimouna/Safie, etc. And, of course, then there is the problem of generic naming. Is Frankenstein best described as sf or as something else? Like the monster, the novel was something different, something new, something unnamed, perhaps something unnamable.

19. After writing this article, I was pleased to come across the 1994 article "Frankenstein and Natural Magic" by Crosbie Smith, a Reader in the History of Science at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Smith states, "By setting the text against a broad context of ‘Enlightenment’ ideology, I argue that the persistent subversion of that ideology by Frankenstein’s personal inclination towards natural and even demonic magic, adapted to his ‘Romantic’ character, underpinned a major textual preoccupation with questions of human knowledge and power" (40). Smith arrives at this conclusion without any reference to, and presumably without having read, the Last Draft. That is to say, he connects Frankenstein with natural magic in spite of the fact that the term does not figure in the three editions. As I have emphasized, it appears only as two Last Draft cancellations.

20. For the "orientalist" Frankenstein, see Lew; and Ketterer, "(De)Composing Frankenstein 266-72. There is at least one further aspect to this reading. The idealized mating in the monster’s narrative of Felix and Safie (an anglicization of the Arabic Safiyyah), the woman at least six times referred to as "his Arabian" (Rieger 112.33/ 2.5:73), or qualified variants thereof, cannot but suggest that they inhabit a metaphoric "Arabia Felix." It was Ptolemy who geographically distinguished Happy or Flourishing Arabia (the comparatively fertile southwestern and southern region) from "Arabia Petræa" (Stony) and "Arabia Deserta."


Agrippa, Henricus Cornelius. De Occulta Philosophia libra tres. Cologne, 1533. English translation by John French, 1651. Rev. trans. as Three Books of Occult Philosophy and Magic: Book One—Natural Magic, ed. Willis F. Whitehead (1897, books two and three were not published; rpt. New York: Samuel Weizer, Inc., 1971).

Aldiss, Brian W. Billion Year Spree: The True History of Science Fiction. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1973. Revised (with David Wingrove) as Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction (1986; London Paladin, 1988).

Baldick, Chris. In Frankenstein’s Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity and Nineteenth-century Writing. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987.

Berger, Maxianne. "The Frankensteins: Collation and Discussion from [Rieger] 30.13 to 45.17." Graduate seminar paper (November 1993). 49 pp.

Duyfhuizen, Bernard. "Periphrastic Naming in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein." Studies in the Novel 27 (Winter 1995): 477-92.

Ellis, Frederick Startridge. A Lexical Concordance to the Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley: An attempt to classify every word therein according to its signification. 1892; New York: Burt Franklin, 1968.

The Frankenstein Notebooks: A Facsimile Edition of Mary Shelley’s Manuscript Novel, 1816-17 (with alterations in the hand of Percy Bysshe Shelley), as it survives in draft and fair copy deposited by Lord Abinger in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Dep. c. 477/1 and Dep. c. 534/1-2). Transcribed and ed. Charles E. Robinson. 2 vols. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 2 December 1996 (announced publication date).

The Journals of Mary Shelley, 1814-1844 . Ed. Paula R. Feldman and Diana Scott-Kilvert. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987.

Ketterer, David. "The Corrected Frankenstein: Twelve Preferred Readings in the Last Draft." English Language Notes 33 (September 1995): 23-35.

—————. "(De)Composing Frankenstein: The Import of Altered Character Names in the Last Draft." Studies in Bibliography 49 (1996): 232-76.

—————. Frankenstein’s Creation: The Book, the Monster and Human Reality. English Literary Studies Monograph Series, no. 16. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria, 1979.

The Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley . Ed. F. L. Jones. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964.

Lew, Joseph W. "The Deceptive Other: Mary Shelley’s Critique of Orientalism in Frankenstein." Studies in Romanticism 30 (Summer 1991): 255-83.

Murray, E. B. "Changes in the 1823 Edition of Frankenstein." Library, Sixth Series, 3 (1981): 320-27.

—————. "Shelley’s Contribution to Mary’s Frankenstein." Keats-Shelley Memorial Bulletin 29 (1978): 50-68.

Scoular, Kitty W. Natural Magic: Studies in the Presentation of Nature in English Poetry from Spenser to Marvell. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965.

[Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft.] Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus. 3 vols. London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor and Jones, 1818. (Facsimile text: The Annotated Frankenstein, ed. Leonard Wolf [New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1977].)

—————. Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. 2 vols. London: G. and W. B. Whitaker, 1823. (Facsimile edition, introduced by Jonathan Wordsworth: Oxford and New York: Woodstock Books, 1993.)

[—————.] Frankenstein, Or, the Modern Prometheus, Revised, Corrected, and Illustrated with a New Introduction, by the Author. No. IX in Bentley’s Standard Novels. London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley; Edinburgh: Bell and Bradfute; Dublin: Cumming, 1831.

—————. Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus (The 1818 Text). Ed. James Rieger. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1974. (Reprinted by the University of Chicago Press, 1982.) Cited as "Rieger."

—————. Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus. The 1831 text. Ed. James Kinsley and M. K. Joseph. 1969; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980. Cited as "Joseph."

—————. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus [the 1818 text]. Ed. Nora Crook. Vol. 1 (of 8) of "The Novels and Selected Works of Mary Shelley." London: William Pickering, 1996. Cited as "Crook."

—————. The Last Draft and the Fair Copy of Frankenstein. Dep. c. 477/1 and Dep. c. 534/1 and 2; The Abinger Deposit: Papers of P. B. Shelley, W. Godwin, and Their Circles; The Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Smith, Crosbie. "Frankenstein and Natural Magic." In Frankenstein, Creation and Monstrosity, ed. Stephen Bann (London: Reaktion Books Ltd., 1994), 39-59, 196-98.

Sunstein, Emily W. Mary Shelley: Romance and Reality. Boston: Little, 1989.

Sutherland, John. "How does Victor make his monsters?" In Sutherland, Is Heathcliff a Murderer? Great Puzzles in Nineteenth-Century Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 24-34.

Thorndike, Lynn. A History of Magic and Experimental Science. 8 vols. New York: Columbia University Press, 1923-58.


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