Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body

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9780393348842: Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body
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"A marvelous, organ-by-organ journey through the body eclectic...Irresistible [and] impressive." ―John J. Ross, Wall Street Journal

The human body is the most fraught and fascinating, talked-about and taboo, unique yet universal fact of our lives. It is the inspiration for art, the subject of science, and the source of some of the greatest stories ever told. In Anatomies, acclaimed author of Periodic Tales Hugh Aldersey-Williams brings his entertaining blend of science, history, and culture to bear on this richest of subjects.

In an engaging narrative that ranges from ancient body art to plastic surgery today and from head to toe, Aldersey-Williams explores the corporeal mysteries that make us human: Why are some people left-handed and some blue-eyed? What is the funny bone, anyway? Why do some cultures think of the heart as the seat of our souls and passions, while others place it in the liver?

A journalist with a knack for telling a story, Aldersey-Williams takes part in a drawing class, attends the dissection of a human body, and visits the doctor’s office and the morgue. But Anatomies draws not just on medical science and Aldersey-Williams’s reporting. It draws also on the works of philosophers, writers, and artists from throughout history. Aldersey-Williams delves into our shared cultural heritage―Shakespeare to Frankenstein, Rembrandt to 2001: A Space Odyssey―to reveal how attitudes toward the human body are as varied as human history, as he explains the origins and legacy of tattooing, shrunken heads, bloodletting, fingerprinting, X-rays, and more.

From Adam’s rib to van Gogh’s ear to Einstein’s brain, Anatomies is a treasure trove of surprising facts and stories and a wonderful embodiment of what Aristotle wrote more than two millennia ago: "The human body is more than the sum of its parts."

16 illustrations

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About the Author:

Hugh Aldersey-Williams is the author of many books, including The Tide, Anatomies, Periodic Tales, and The Most Beautiful Molecule, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He lives in Norfolk, England.

From Booklist:

Aldersey-Williams has previously written about buckminsterfullerene (The Most Beautiful Molecule, 1995) and chemical elements (Periodic Tales, 2011). Here he works as a geographer, inspecting the territory of the body while merging medical science with art, literature, history, and philosophy. Anatomic superstars—Andreas Vesalius, William Harvey, and Henry Gray—bask in the spotlight, but they share the stage with the likes of Karel Capek, Gogol, Shakespeare, Descartes, Rembrandt, and Hieronymus Bosch. The book is crammed with curiosities: the recipe for shrinking and preserving a human head, body-snatchers, phrenology, synesthesia (a sort of mingling of the senses), and Einstein’s brain. Aldersey-Williams has us think about the variety of body parts that have infiltrated common idioms: elbow grease, nose around, fight tooth and nail. The enjoyable and unpredictable text is sprinkled with illustrations and concludes with musings on self-transformation (expanding the body’s abilities and extending lifespan). The Greek philosopher Epictetus once warned, “You are a little soul carrying around a corpse.” Whether a work of art, a biological machine, the epitome of evolution, or a cold cadaver, the human body is astonishing. --Tony Miksanek

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780393239881: Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0393239888 ISBN 13:  9780393239881
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013
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9780670920723: Anatomies: The Human Body Its Parts And The Stories They Tell

Viking, 2014
Softcover

9780670920747: Anatomies

Viking, 2013
Softcover

9780670920730: Anatomies

Viking, 2013
Softcover

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Book Description WW Norton & Co, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. The human body is the most fraught and fascinating, talked-about and taboo, unique yet universal fact of our lives. It is the inspiration for art, the subject of science, and the source of some of the greatest stories ever told. In Anatomies, acclaimed author of Periodic Tales Hugh Aldersey-Williams brings his entertaining blend of science, history, and culture to bear on this richest of subjects. In an engaging narrative that ranges from ancient body art to plastic surgery today and from head to toe, Aldersey-Williams explores the corporeal mysteries that make us human: Why are some people left-handed and some blue-eyed? What is the funny bone, anyway? Why do some cultures think of the heart as the seat of our souls and passions, while others place it in the liver? A journalist with a knack for telling a story, Aldersey-Williams takes part in a drawing class, attends the dissection of a human body, and visits the doctor's office and the morgue. But Anatomies draws not just on medical science and Aldersey-Williams's reporting. It draws also on the works of philosophers, writers, and artists from throughout history. Aldersey-Williams delves into our shared cultural heritage-Shakespeare to Frankenstein, Rembrandt to 2001: A Space Odyssey-to reveal how attitudes toward the human body are as varied as human history, as he explains the origins and legacy of tattooing, shrunken heads, bloodletting, fingerprinting, X-rays, and more. From Adam's rib to van Gogh's ear to Einstein's brain, Anatomies is a treasure trove of surprising facts and stories and a wonderful embodiment of what Aristotle wrote more than two millennia ago: "The human body is more than the sum of its parts.". Seller Inventory # AAC9780393348842

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