On a dark and stormy night in 1816, Mary Shelley began writing a story that posed profound questions about individual and societal responsibility for other people. To make her point, the young novelist used the scientific advances of her era and the controversies surrounding them as a metaphor for issues of unchecked power and self-serving ambition, and their effect on the human community. Since that time, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus has become one of the Western world’s most enduring myths. The story provides a framework for discussions of medical advances that challenge our traditional understanding of what it means to be human.
The National Library of Medicine’s traveling exhibit, Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature, is on display in the Robert B. Greenblatt, MD Library until January 28, 2017. This six-banner exhibit explores the birth of Frankenstein, the life of author Mary Shelley, the scientific search for the principle of life, and the transformation of the “monster” in popular culture.
The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Renée Sharrock at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-721-3444.
Illustration from Essai Théorique et Expérimentale sur le Galvanisme, tome premier (Theoretical and Practical Essay on Galvanism, first volume), 1804
Author: Giovanni Aldini (1762–1834)
Courtesy National Library of Medicine