"Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash"

   Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535) was a German scholar whose writings blended theology and astrology with an interest in the occult.  By the time of the Enlightenment his ideas had been discredited, and his post-mortem reputation tainted by rumours of Faustian occultist practices.  Yet, despite his later condemnation by skeptical rationalists, Agrippa's best known work De Occulta Philosophia constitutes an early attempt to explore the same questions of mortality that concerned early nineteenth-century scientists. 

   Of particular relevance to Frankenstein's experiments are those passages which explore the connections between body and mind, theorising the soul as a force which charges the physical frame; "first infused into the middle point of the heart, which is the center of mans body, and from thence it is diffused through all the parts and members of his body" (Book Three: Chapter xxxvii).  Even more suggestive is his theoretical contemplation of necromancy, speculating on the impossible, godlike knowledge which would be needed to discover "by what influences the body may be knit together again for the raising of the dead" (Book Three: Chapter xlii). 

Online edition of Cornelius Agrippa's 'De Occulta Philosophia', originally translated by "J.F." (1651)

Online edition of 'The Poetical Works of Robert Southey', containing his 'Cornelius Agrippa' (first published 1799)

Online edition of Mary Shelley's 'The Mortal Immortal', featuring Agrippa as a character (1833)