The Journey of the Mute Frankenstein of Thomas Potter Cooke: Towards a Language for a New Science


  • Marta Marchetti Department of Modern Letters and Cultures (LCM) Sapienza University of Rome


Frankenstein , Melodrama , Adaptation , Body language, Thomas Potter Cooke


 In 1923 at the Royal Theatre English Opera House of London the journey of the mute Frankenstein of Thomas Potter Cook started. On that stage the creature born from the encounter between science and romantic genius definitively lost his voice to progressively assume more and more the appearance of a body that speaks for itself, beyond literary fact, and above all beyond verbal language. If in the novel by Mary Shelley the acquisition of a language is the main tool of identity emancipation for the indefinable ‘product’ of contemporary scientific culture, on stage the actor Cooke, who played that silent character 365 times, laid the foundations for one of the myths of modernity. The article questions the way in which the creature of Dr. Victor Frankenstein erupted into the European popular culture of the 1820s, contributing on the one hand to preparing public imagination for the debate on Darwinism that would take place forty years later; revealing on the other a new fundamental aesthetic perception, because the discoveries of the new sciences (chemistry, physics, physiology, etc.) became a common experience that can be found empirically.