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  • MINSOO KANG (a1)


This article pursues the origin and mutation of a fantastic story concerning an automaton in the shape of a young girl that was supposedly built by René Descartes. In recent decades it has been retold and reimagined so many times that the tale has become an iconic narrative in the context of the reassessment of Descartes's significance in intellectual history. But a close reading of the original story, found in a 1699 work entitled Mélanges d'histoire et de littérature by Vigneul-Marville, reveals an overtly stated agenda of saving the philosopher's moral reputation, which makes most recent interpretations of the story problematic. The vast majority of modern retellings demonstrate no awareness of the content or the significance of the first tale even as it has been used to shed light on Descartes, Cartesian ideas, and early modern thought in general.



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1 For the idea of Descartes creating the automaton to deal with the loss of his daughter, see Levitt, Deborah, “Animation and the Medium of Life: Media Ethology, An-ontology, Ethics,” Inflexions, 7 (March 2014), 118–61, at 138; Jess-Cooke, Carolyn, Inroads (Bridgend, 2010), 60 n. 42; Berlinski, David, Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics (New York, 2005), 40 ; Perkowitz, Sidney, Digital People: From Bionic Humans to Androids (Washington, DC, 2004), 56 ; Wood, Gaby, Living Dolls: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life (London, 2002), 4 ; and Brodo, Susan, “Introduction,” in Brodo, , ed., Feminist Interpretations of René Descartes (University Park, PA, 1999), 129, at 4 .

2 Gaukroger, Stephen, Descartes: An Intellectual Biography (Oxford, 1995), 12 .

3 Ibid., 1.

4 Ward, Mark, Virtual Organisms: The Startling World of Artificial Life (New York, 1999), 148 ; and Brodo, “Introduction,” 2.

5 Cohen, , How to Love: Wise (and Not-so-Wise) Advice from the Great Philosophers (Lewes, 2014), 24 ; Nagasawa, Yujin, The Existence of God: A Philosophical Introduction (London, 2011), 15 ; Wallin, Jason, “Constructions of Childhood,” in Frymer, Benjamin, Carlin, Matthew, and Broughton, John, eds., Cultural Studies, Education, and Youth (Lanham, MD, 2011), 165–89, at 172; Reilly, Kara, Automata and the Mimesis on the Stage of Theatre History (Basingstoke, 2011), 68 ; Wilson, Eric G., The Melancholy Android: On the Psychology of Sacred Machines (Albany, 2006), 95 ; Perkowitz, Digital People, 56; and Wood, Living Dolls, 3.

6 Woesler de Panafieu, Christine, “Automata: A Masculine Utopia,” in Mendelsohn, Everett and Nowotny, Helga, eds., Nineteen Eighty-Four: Science between Utopia and Dystopia (Dordrecht, 1984), 127–45, at 142 n. 10.

7 Sawday, Jonathan, Engines of the Imagination: Renaissance Culture and the Rise of the Machine (Milton Park, 2007), 201 ; Gaukroger, Descartes, 1; and Geoff Simons, Is Man a Robot? (Chichester, 1986), 16.

8 Nagasawa, The Existence of God, 15; Reilly, Automata and Mimesis, 68; Wilson, The Melancholy Android, 95; and Crevier, Daniel, AI: The Tumultuous History of the Search for Artificial Intelligence (New York, 1993), 2 .

9 Nagasawa, The Existence of God, 15.

10 Maisano, Scott, “Infinite Gesture: Automata and the Emotions in Descartes and Shakespeare,” in Riskin, Jessica, ed., Genesis Redux: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life (Chicago, 2007), 6384 , at 63; and Strauss, Linda, “Reflections in a Mechanical Mirror: Automata as Doubles and as Tools,” Knowledge and Society, 10 (1996), 179209 , at 193.

11 Cohen, How to Love, 24; Wallin, “Constructions of Childhood,” 172; Vermeir, Koen, “RoboCop Dissected: Man-Machine and Mind–Body in the Enlightenment,” Technology and Culture, 4 (Oct. 2008), 1036–44, at 1036; Wilson, The Melancholy Android, 95; and Wood, Living Dolls, 3.

12 Wallin, “Constructions of Childhood,” 172; and Robinson, Dave and Garratt, Chris, Introducing Descartes (Cambridge, 1998), 102 .

13 Heudin, Jean-Claude, Les créatures artificielles: Des automates aux mondes virtuel (Paris, 2008), 51 ; Brodo, “Introduction,” 2; and Gaukroger, Descartes, 1.

14 Cohen, How to Love, 24; Wallin, “Constructions of Childhood,” 172; Vermeir, “RoboCop Dissected,” 1039; Maisano, “Infinite Gesture,” 63; Sterne, Jonathan, The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (Durham, 2003), 73 ; Wood, Living Dolls, 3–4; Kurzweil, Raymond, The Age of Intelligent Machines (Cambridge, 1999), 29 ; Robinson and Garratt, Introducing Descartes, 102; and Flynn, Tom, The Body in Three Dimension (New York, 1998), 10 .

15 Panafieu, “Automata,” 142, n. 10.

16 Cohen, How to Love, 24; Reilly, Automata and Mimesis, 68; Vermeir, “RoboCop Dissected,” 1039; Wilson, The Melancholy Android, 95; and Wood, Living Dolls, 3–4.

17 Money, Nicholas P., The Amoeba in the Room (Oxford, 2014), 46 .

18 Gaukroger, Descartes, 1–2.

19 Brodo, “Introduction,” 1–4.

20 Ibid., 4–5.

21 Wallin, “Constructions of Childhood,” 173.

22 Bloom, Paul, Descartes’ Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human (New York, 2004), xii.

23 Ibid., xii–xiii.

24 One major category of sources that I chose not deal with, though it provides further proof of the story's popularity in recent decades, is those on the Internet. A quick search will reveal countless websites that mention the narrative. Other references to the story in English and French works published since the 1990s that I have not yet referred to in the notes above are Panagia, Davide, “Why Film Matters to Political Theory,” Contemporary Political Theory, 12 (2013), 225 , at 15; Humphrey, Nicholas, “Introduction,” in Descartes, René, Meditations & Other Writings (London, 2011), xiii; Schleifer, Ronald, Intangible Materialism: The Body, Scientific Knowledge, and the Power of Language (Minneapolis, 2009), 35–6; Guido, Laurent, “Modèles et images de la danse(use) mécanique des automates à l’électro-humain,” in Schifano, Laurence, ed., La vie filmique des marionettes (Paris, 2008), 107–25, at 108 n. 3; Muri, Alison, The Enlightenment Cyborg: A History of Communications and Control in the Human Machine, 1660–1830 (Toronto, 2007), 28 ; Boden, Margaret A., Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science, vol. 1 (Oxford, 2006), 74 ; Godier, Rose-Marie, L'automate et le cinéma (Paris, 2005), 11 ; Burnett, Graham, Descartes and the Hyperbolic Quest: Lens Making Machines and Their Significance in the Seventeenth Century (Philadelphia, 2005), 39 ; Benesch, Klaus, Romantic Cyborgs: Authorship and Technology in the American Renaissance (Amherst, 2002), 203 ; Cavallaro, Daniel, Critical and Cultural Theory: Thematic Variations (London, 2001), 194 ; Colburn, Timothy, Philosophy and Computer Science (Abingdon, 1999), 42 ; Higley, Sarah L., “The Legend of the Learned Man's Android,” in Hahn, Thomas and Lupack, Alan, eds., Telling Tales: Essays in Honor of Russell Peck (Rochester, 1997), 127–60, at 146–7; and Breton, Philippe, A l'image de l'homme: Du golem aux créatures virtuelles (Paris, 1995), 35 .

25 Kurzweil, The Age of Intelligence Machines, 29; Cavallaro, Critical and Cultural Theory, 194; Ward, Virtual Organisms, 147–8; and Crevier, AI, 2.

26 Gaby Wood, Living Dolls, 4, writes, “It is hard to know if this story is true.” See also Wilson, The Melancholy Android, 95.

27 On twentieth-century critiques of Descartes and his reputation see Sorell, Tom, “Excusable Caricature and Philosophical Relevance: The Case of Descartes,” in Rogers, G. A. J., Sorell, Tom, and Kraye, Jill, eds., Insiders and Outsiders in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy (New York, 2010), 153–63; and John Cottingham, “Descartes’ Reputation,” in ibid., 164–76.

28 For instances of such negative views of Cartesian ideas see Watson, Richard, Cogito, Ergo Sum: The Life of René Descartes (Boston, 2002), 1821 .

29 See Cottingham, “Descartes’ Reputation.”

30 Gaukroger, Descartes; Rodis-Lewis, Geneviève, Descartes: Biographie (Paris, 1995), translated into English as Descartes: His Life and Thought, trans. Jane Marie Todd (Ithaca, 1998); Watson, Cogito, Ergo Sum; Clarke, Desmond M., Descartes: A Biography (Cambridge, 2006); and Grayling, A. C., The Life and Times of Genius (New York, 2005). A number of other works on more specific aspect of Descartes's life have appeared, including the fate of his remains, the famous painting of him, and his interest in occult philosophy. See Aczel, Amir D., Descartes's Secret Notebook: A True Tale of Mathematics, Mysticism, and the Quest to Understand the Universe (New York, 2005); Shorto, Russell, Descartes’ Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict between Faith and Reason (New York, 2008); and Nadler, Steven, The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes (Princeton, 2013).

31 Watson, Cogito, Ergo Sum, 3.

32 Clarke, Descartes, 2.

33 Kimball, Roger, “What's Left of Descartes?”, New Criterion, 13/10 (1995), 814 , at 14.

34 Kimball, “What's Left of Descartes?”, 8–9.

35 Shorto, Descartes’ Bones, 29.

36 For the context of revived cybernetic discourse see Hayles, N. Katherine, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago, 1999). Hayles characterizes the current cybernetic discourse as “the third wave”: see 11–12 and 222–46. For a more concise overview of the history of cybernetic discourse see Clarke, Bruce, “From Thermodynamics to Virtuality,” in Clarke, Bruce and Henderson, Linda Dalrymple, eds., From Energy to Information: Representation in Science and Technology, Art, and Literature (Stanford, 2002), 1733 .

37 A good example of this is the neurologist Antonio R. Damasio's book on the embodiment theory of consciousness that was originally published in 1994. Damasio, Antonio R., Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain (New York, 2000).

38 For example, see Muri, The Enlightenment Cyborg, 13–17.

39 Grafton, Anthony, “Descartes the Dreamer” in Grafton, , Bring Out Your Dead: The Past as Revelation (Cambridge, 2001), 244–58, at 246–7.

40 See, for instance, Perkowitz, Digital People, 55–6; Ward, Virtual Organisms, 147–8; Kurzweil, The Age of Intelligent Machines, 29; Colburn, Philosophy and Computer Science, 42; Crevier, AI, 2; and Simons, Is Man a Robot?, 16.

41 See, for instance, Levitt, “Animation and the Medium of Life”; Muri, The Enlightenment Cyborg; and Hayles, How We Became Posthuman.

42 Works that directly cite Gaukroger are Vermeir, “RoboCop Dissected,” 1036 n. 1; Sawday, Engines of the Imagination, 201, 362 n. 142; Maisano, “Infinite Gesture,” 63, 80 n. 1; Burnett, Descartes and the Hyperbolic Quest, 39 n. 96; Bloom, Descartes’ Baby, x, xii; Reilly, Automata and Mimesis, 68, and 190–91 n. 47; and Brodo, “Introduction,” 2, 25 n. 1. Ones that cite Wood are Panagia, “Why Film Matters to Political Theory,” 15, 23 n. 23; Nagasawa, Existence of God, 162 n. 23; Wallin, “Constructions of Childhood,” 172; Wilson, The Melancholy Android, 152 n. 1; and Maisano, “Infinite Gesture,” 80 n. 1. Some works provide no reference but they are clearly informed by Wood as they feature specific themes like Descartes's travel to Sweden. See Cohen, How to Love, 24; Perkowitz, Digital People, 56; and Jess-Cooke, Inroads, 60 n. 42.

43 For the history and the controversy over Baillet's biography see Sebba, Gregor, “Adrien Baillet and the Genesis of His Vie de M. Des-Cartes ,” in Lennon, Thomas M., Nicholas, John M., and Davis, John W., eds., Problems of Cartesianism (Kingston and Montreal, 1982), 960 . Sebba argues (at 41) against the notion that Baillet set out to write a kind of hagiography of Descartes. See also Wang, Leonard J., “A Controversial Biography: Baillet's La Vie de Monsieur Des-Cartes ,” Romanische Forschungen, 75/3–4 (1963), 316–31.

44 Baillet, Adrien, La Vie de Monsieur Des-Cartes (Paris, 1691), 8990 .

45 For details on this liaison see Clarke, Descartes, 131–6; and Gaukroger, Descartes, 294–5.

46 Gaukgroger, Descartes, 194. Gaukroger quotes an earlier biography by Jack Vrooman. See Vrooman, Jack R., René Descartes: A Biography (New York, 1970), 137 .

47 Clarke, Descartes, 133.

48 Baillet, La Vie de Monsieur Des-Cartes, 90. Gaukroger has suggested that this reaction on the part of Descartes may have been exaggerated by Baillet. See Gaukroger, Descartes, 462 n. 202.

49 Clarke, Descartes, 133–4; and Gaukroger, Descartes, 294.

50 See Rountree, Richard, Bonaventure d'Argonne: The Seventeenth Century's Enigmatic Carthusian (Geneva, 1980).

51 Ibid., 151–2.

52 Ibid., 157–67.

53 Vigneul-Marville, , Mélanges d'histoire et de littérature, vol. 2 (Paris, 1725), 134 . Thanks to Tili Boon Cuillé for her help with this passage.

54 Descartes, René, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. 1, trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothhoff, and Dugald Murdoch (Cambridge, 1985), 139 (on his notion of animals as soulless machines see 139–41). For details on Cartesian physiology see Chene, Dennis Des Spirits and Clocks: Machine and Organism in Descartes (Ithaca, 2001); Barker, Gordon and Morris, Katherine J., Descartes’ Dualism (London, 1996); and Gaukroger, Descartes, 269–99. For older works see Carter, Richard B., Descartes’ Medical Philosophy: The Organic Solution to the Mind–Body Problem (Baltimore, 1983), esp. 175–9; Moravia, Sergio, “From Homme Machine to Homme Sensible: Changing Eighteenth-Century Models of Man's Image,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 39 (1978), 4960 ; Rosenfield, Leonora Cohen, From Beast-Machine to Man-Machine (New York, 1940); Jaynes, Julian, “The Problem of Animate Motion in the Seventeenth Century,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 31 (1970), 119234 ; Hall, Thomas S., “Descartes’ Physiological Method: Position, Principles, Examples,” Journal of the History of Biology, 3 (1970), 5381 ; and Hall, Ideas of Life and Matter, vol. 1 (Chicago, 1969), 250–63.

55 On Descartes's use of the automaton idea see Kang, Minsoo, Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination (Cambridge, 2011), 116–24.

56 Nicolas-Joseph Poisson, Commentaire ou remarques sur la méthode de René Descartes (Vendôme, 1670), 156.

57 Des Chene, Spirits and Clocks, 65–6. For Descartes's description of the magnet-operated figure see Descartes, René, Oeuvres inédites de Descartes, trans. (Latin–French) Foucher de Careil (Paris, 1859), 35–7.

58 Derek J. De Solla Price reported the claim in his 1964 essay on the history of automata, which became the source for other references to Descartes as an automaton maker. De Solla Price, Derek J., “Automata and the Origins of Mechanism and Mechanistic Philosophy,” Technology and Culture, 5/1 (1964), 923 , at 23. See also Nagasawa, Existence of God, 15; Boden, Mind and Machine, 74; Perkowitz, Digital People, 55; Sterne, The Audible Past, 72–3; Wood, Living Dolls, 4; and Kurzweil, The Age of Intelligent Machines, 29.

59 This work has a rather complicated publication history. Descartes completed it in the late 1620s but after hearing of the persecution of Galileo, he declined to publish it in his own time as it was full of Copernican ideas. After his death, only the second part of the work on physiology was published in 1662 in a Latin translation, and then in French, under the title of Traité de l'homme, in 1664. The entire work was published as Traité du monde in 1677.

60 Descartes, René, The World and Other Writings, trans. Stephen Gaukroger (Cambridge, 1998), 107 .

61 Jaynes, “The Problem of Animate Motion in the Seventeenth Century,” 224.

62 Battisti, Eugenio, L'Antirinascimento (Milan, 1962), 226 . Thanks to Rebecca Messbarger for translating this passage from Italian.

63 Many modern versions of the Descartes story also mention the Albertus tale. See Sawday, Engines of the Imagination, 193; Berlinski, Infinite Ascent, 40; Heudin, Les créatures artificielle, 66; Gaukroger, Descartes, 418 n. 1; Strauss, “Reflections in a Mechanical Mirror,” 193; Sladek, John, “Roderick, or the Education of a Young Machine” in Sladek, The Complete Roderick (New York, 2004), 1339, at 327; Price, “Automata and the Origins of Mechanism,” 23; Cohen, Human Robots in Myth and Science, 30; and Louis d'Elmont, “L'homme peut-il frabriquer un homme?” Le petit journal illustré, 19 May 1935, 3.

64 A slightly different translation of this passage, rendered from Italian by Arielle Saiber, has previously been published in Kang, Sublime Dreams of Living Machines, 70–71. For the original text see Corsini, Matteo, Rosaio della vita (Firenze, 1845), 1516 . The identification of Corsini as the author of the Rosaio was made in the nineteenth century by the Florentine librarian and historian Luigi Passerini, through a comparison of the alleged date of the work's composition to the biographical details of Corsini's life, but his reasoning has not been universally accepted. See Passerini, Luigi, Genealogia e storia della famiglia Corsini (Florence, 1858), 45–8.

65 See de Madrigal, Alonso Fernández, Beati Alphonsi Thostati Episcopi Abulensis super explanatio litteralis amplissima nunc primum edita in apertum (Venice, 1528), II, 15a. Ben Halliburton identified this text from this reference: Dickson, Arthur, Valentine and Orson: A Study in Late Medieval Romance (New York, 1929), 214 n. 147. For more on the symbolism of moving and speaking statues and artificial heads in the medieval and renaissance contexts see Truitt, E. R., Medieval Robots: Mechanism, Magic, Nature and Art (Philadelphia, 2015), esp. 6995 ; Kang, Sublime Dreams of Living Machines, 68–79; and Dickson, Valentine and Orson 201–16.

66 See Newman, William R., Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature (Chicago, 2004); and Eamon, William, Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture (Princeton, 1994). For Albertus's interest in alchemy and astrology see Weishipl, James A., ed., Albertus Magnus and the Sciences: Commemorative Essays (Toronto, 1980); and Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, vol. 2 (New York, 1923), 521–92. Similar stories about the construction of a magical head through the use of natural magic has been told about other celebrated intellectuals of the Middle Ages, including Gerbert (Pope Sylvester II), Roger Bacon, and Robert Grosseteste. See Kang, Sublime Dream of Living Machines, 68–79.

67 Descartes, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. 1, 115.

68 D'Israeli, Isaac, Curiosities of Literature, vol. 1 (New York, 1971), 441–2. The story, in the same form, was published in 1795 in the Lady's Magazine. See “The Wooden Daughter of Descartes,” Lady's Magazine (Jan. 1795), 7.

69 Some of the modern versions of the story feature the Dutch theme, having Descartes travel to or from Holland on a ship captained by a Dutchman. See Ward, Virtual Organisms, 148; Brodo, “Introduction,” 2; and Gaukroger, Descartes, 1.

70 Emery, Jacques-André, Oeuvres complètes (Paris, 1857), 749 .

71 “A tall tale.” Michaud, Louis-Gabriel, Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne, vol. 11 (Paris, 1814), 158 .

72 France, Anatole, La rôtisserie de la reine Pédauque (Paris, 1893), 137–8. For an alternate translation see France, Anatole, The Romance of Queen Pédauque (no translator credited) (New York, 1931), 83–4.

73 For instance, Gaukroger, Descartes, 1.

74 As far as I have been able to ascertain, the first twentieth-century scholar to correctly identify the origin of the story was Leonora Cohen Rosenfield in her 1968 book on animal automatism. See Rosenfield, From Beast-Machine to Man-Machine, 203 and, more importantly 236 n. 44. Stephen Gaukroger refers to it as one of his sources but does not discuss the Vigneul-Marville text that is quoted in it. Since then, the original story has been referred to in Reilly, Automata and Mimesis, 190 n. 47; Kang, Sublime Dreams of Living Machines, 123; and Higley, “The Legend of the Learned Man's Android,” 146.

75 Newnes’ Pictorial Knowledge, vol. 6 (London, n.d. but probably 1933–4), 2234. Thanks to Rebecca Hutchins and Barnaby Hutchins for finding and sending me the article and image.

76 Ibid.

77 Leroux, Gaston, “La machine à assassiner,” in Adventures incroyables (Paris, 1992), 485622 , at 555. For an alternate translation see Leroux, Gaston, The Machine to Kill (no translator credited) (New York, 1935), 134.

78 Elmont, “L'homme peut-il frabriquer un homme?”, 3.

79 Sladek, “Roderick,” 327.

80 Crevier, AI, 2.

81 Wilson, The Melancholy Android, 95.

82 Heudin, Les créatures artificielle, 51.

83 Cohen, How to Love, 24.

84 This misspelling of “pheasant” (perdrix in the Poisson text; see note 56 above) unfortunately led Jonathan Sterne to write “peasant.” See Sterne, The Audible Past, 72.

85 Price, “Automata and the Origins of Mechanism,” 23.

86 Boden, Mind as Machine, 74; Benesch, Romantic Cyborgs; Sterne, The Audible Past, 73; and Kurzweil, The Age of Intelligent Machines, 29.

87 John Cohen, Human Robots in Myth and Science (London, 1966), 69.

88 Cohen, From Beast-Machine to Man-Machine, 203.

89 Ibid., 236 n. 44.

90 The works that point to Francine Descartes are Levitt, “Animation and the Medium of Life,” 138; Humphrey, “Introduction,” xiii; Wallin, “Constructions of Chilhood,” 171–2; Jess-Cooke, Inroads, 60; Reilly, Automata and Mimesis, 68; Sawday, Engines of the Imagination, 201; Vermeir, “RoboCop Dissected,” 1036; Wilson, The Melancholy Android, 95; Maisano, “Infinite Gesture,” 63; Bloom, Descartes’ Baby, xii; Perkowitz, Digital People, 56; Berlinski, Infinite Ascent, 40; Wood, Living Dolls, 4; Ward, Virtual Organisms, 148; Brodo, “Introduction,” 4; and Gaukroger, Descartes, 1. Sarah L. Higley refers to Cohen and Price, as well as Rosenfield, quoting the last of these quoting Vigneul-Marville, and she correctly points to the denial of Francine's existence in the original tale, but she still confesses that while she “managed to round up many of the early robots and trace their retellings . . . Francine, rusting under the waves, still evades me.” Higley, “The Legend of the Learned Man's Android,” 129, n.1, and 146.

91 Panafieu, “Automata,” 142 n. 10.

92 Crevier, AI, 2. Crevier mentions this alongside actual automata that were made in the early modern period, including those by Leonardo da Vinci, Salomon de Caus, Jacques de Vaucanson, and Pierre and Louis Jaquet-Droz.

93 Gaukroger, Descartes, 1.

94 Other scholars, some of them referring to Gaukroger, have also described the automaton as Descartes's “companion,” “traveling companion,” and “female companion.” See Sawday, Engines of the Imagination, 201; Vermeir, “RoboCop Dissected,” 1036; Maisano, “Infinite Gesture,” 63; Burnett, Descartes and the Hyperbolic Quest, 39; Reilly, Automata and Mimesis, 68; Jess-Cooke, Inroads, 60; and Brodo, “Introduction,” 2.

95 Gaukroger's sources are an unnamed book on robotics (probably John Cohen) and Rosenfield, and he also refers to Anatole France in Rosenfield. See Gaukroger, Descartes, 418 n. 1.

96 On science fiction stories involving female robots see Wosk, Julie, My Fair Ladies: Female Robots, Androids, and Other Artificial Eves (New Brunswick, 2015); and Kang, Minsoo, “Building the Sex Machine: The Subversive Potential of the Female Robot,” Intertexts, 9/1 (2005), 522 .

97 Wood, Living Dolls, 3–4.

98 Ibid., 4–5.

99 Also found in Brodo, “Introduction,” 4–5.

100 See note 8 above. Kara Reilly, in her 2011 book on automata in theatre history, points to the earliest manifestations of the story in Vigneul-Marville and Isaac D'Israeli in the endnotes, but in her recounting of the story in the text she provides a synopsis of the Gaby Wood story, including his journey to Sweden. Reilly, Automata and Mimesis, 68, 190 n. 47. Reilly includes Wood's description of the storm at sea that leads to the discovery of the automaton. This description is also mentioned in other versions. See Wilson, The Melancholy Android, 95; Vermeir, “RoboCop Dissected,” 1036; and Cohen, How to Love, 24.

101 Robinson and Garratt, Introducing Descartes, 102.

102 Wallin, “Constructions of Childhood,” 172.

103 Humphrey, “Introduction,” xiii. It is interesting that Humphrey also describes the box carrying the automaton as “lined with satin,” which is a detail from Anatole France's story of the salamander which was not featured in Rosenfield's translated passage. See France, La rôtisserie de la reine Pédauque, 137.

104 Cohen, How to Love, 24.

105 For instance, Carolyn Jess-Cooke has written a moving poem about Descartes the grieving father and his mechanical creation. See Jess-Cooke, “Descartes’ Daughters,” in Jess-Cooke, Inroads, 42–3. The tale is also mentioned in the Japanese science fiction anime film Ghost in the Shell II: Innocence as futuristic detectives investigate female robots that have gone rogue. One of the characters says that Descartes “lost his beloved five-year-old daughter and then named a doll after her, Francine. He doted on her. At least that's what they say.” The film, including the mention of the Descartes story, is discussed in Levitt, “Animation and the Medium of Life,” 134–43, and Muri, The Enlightenment Cyborg, 28. N. A. Sulway, in her novel Rupetta (Leyburn, 2013), does not relate the Descartes story directly but utilizes a number of elements from it about a sentient female automaton that is built in the seventeenth century.

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