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The two-headed boy , and other medical marvels.

Bondeson, Jan.

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ISBN 10: 0801437679 / ISBN 13: 9780801437670
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Ithaca , N.Y. : Cornell University Press, c2000. Hardcover. Dustjacket. xxii, 295 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. . Condition : very good. ISBN 9780801437670 [KEYWORDS: HISTORY OF MEDICINE, *2006-100 history of medicine. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 249472

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Titel: The two-headed boy , and other medical ...

Einband: Hardcover

Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included

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A successor to his popular book A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities, this new collection of essays by Jan Bondeson illustrates various anomalies of human development, the lives of the remarkable individuals concerned, and social reactions to their extraordinary bodies.

Bondeson examines historical cases of dwarfism, extreme corpulence, giantism, conjoined twins, dicephaly, and extreme hairiness; his broader theme, however, is the infinite range of human experience. The dicephalous Tocci brothers and Lazarus Colloredo (from whose belly grew his malformed conjoined twin), the Swedish giant, and the king of Poland's dwarf?Bondeson considers these individuals not as "freaks" but as human beings born with sometimes appalling congenital deformities.

He makes full use of original French, German, Dutch, Polish, and Scandinavian sources and explores elements of ethnology, literature, and cultural history in his diagnoses. Heavily illustrated with woodcuts, engravings, oil paintings, and photographs, The Two-Headed Boy and Other Medical Marvels combines a scientist's scrutiny with a humanist's wonder at the endurance of the human spirit.


The Two Inseparable Brothers, and a Preface

The Hairy Maid at the Harpsichord

The Stone-child

The Woman Who Laid an Egg

The Strangest Miracle in the World

Some Words about Hog-faced Gentlewomen

Horned Humans

The Biddenden Maids

The Tocci Brothers, and Other Dicephali

The King of Poland's Court

Dwarf Daniel Cajanus, the Swedish Giant

Daniel Lambert, the Human Colossus

Cat-eating Englishmen and French Frog-swallowers


Please, don't stare. Dr. Jan Bondeson, author of The Two-Headed Boy and Other Medical Marvels, aims to humanize his subjects and move beyond the standard exploitation of people with extremely visible medical anomalies. Though one might say that he benefits from our undeniable fascination with the extraordinarily different, he writes brief but thorough biographies that show real, three-dimensional people underneath the hair and horns. His medical understanding rivals his historical acuity, and the reader will find the interwoven threads of science and culture breathtaking.

Perhaps most intriguing is Bondeson's analysis of eccentric tales with little or no physical documentary evidence, such as the egg-laying Scotsman or the Irish gentlelady who was said to have given birth to 365 babies at once. He finds many convincing after stripping them of contemporary superstition and embellishment; this should motivate greater interest in seeking out nonmedical anomalies for deeper research. Fans of good, old-fashioned freak shows will enjoy the profuse, often charming illustrations and the final chapter on men and women reputed to eat such delicacies as stones and live animals long before Ozzy Osbourne made headlines. The Two-Headed Boy and Other Medical Marvels will surprise those looking strictly for cheap thrills, though--the subjects are too human to treat lightly. --Rob Lightner

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