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A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities: A Compendium of the Odd, the Bizarre, and the Unexpected Paperback – April 17, 1999
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Fascinating. . . . Well-researched and extensively illustrated with items from [Bondeson's] personal collection, it covers a wide range of medical monstrosities, and there is something for everyone. -- The Lancet
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
In "A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities", Jan Bondeson, a British physician who also holds a doctorate in experimental medicine, has written a fascinating and brilliantly executed textual analogue to the cabinet of curiousities. In successive chapters, Bondeson details, among other curiousities, the histories of spontaneous human combustion, apparent death and premature burial, maternal impressions (the belief that what a pregnant woman sees and experiences can cause corresponding alterations in the unborn fetus), and people with tails. Bondeson tells true, and not so true, stories of dwarfs and giants. He relates the story of Mary Toft, the English woman who, in 1726, was believed to have given birth to seventeen rabbits. And, of course, such a compendium of marvels would not be complete without a bearded lady--in this case, Bondeson narrates the remarkable life story of Julie Pastrana, who made appearances throughout the world in the mid-nineteenth century and whose mummified body (along with the mummified corpse of her infant child) continued to draw crowds at fairs and carnivals many years after her death.
While these topics may seem grotesque, even repulsive, Bondeson writes with deep feeling for his human subjects and a wry sense of humor for the foibles of his sometimes credulous profession. He also integrates these seemingly freakish and disparate topics into remarkably lucid and informative discussions of their place in the medical, scientific, religious, and literary discourse of their times.
The author’s prose is clear, lively and quite captivating. In fact, in some of the chapters exploring topics that today seem totally ridiculous, wry humor is occasionally used is a most clever way. This book should be of particular interest to those with a fascination for the bizarre, the unusual and the simply outrageous.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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Bonderson enlightens us with historical oddities, from spontaneous human combustion to "giants in the earth". Read morePublished on December 28, 2012 by Wolf Forrest
This book is assigned in one of my classes and it is simply excruciating to read. Bondeson manages to kill subjects for me that I had been excited to read about (Mary Toft &... Read morePublished on May 7, 2011 by SeldomSelden
The book is very well researched, however , it is not something you can sit in your armchair and enjoy reading. Read morePublished on September 29, 2008 by F. Hussain