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The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture Paperback – 17 Oct 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (17 Oct. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415157196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415157193
  • Product Dimensions: 25.6 x 17.9 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 810,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Throughout, "The Body Emblazoned is beautifully written. While being learned, and soaked in all manner of modern theoretical currents, the writing is lucid, alert, direct, entirely free of jargon, and a pleasure to read...a most absorbing and convincing work of scholarship, rich in insights, carefully argued and highly will be a major event in the cultural history of the early modern era."
-Roy Porter, The Wellcome Institute
"An astonishing piece of cultural history...Sawday recaptures the continuity of Renaissance knowledge in prose that is elegant and clear and that moves with equal facility through the history of literature, art, and science. This is a monumental work--one that will captivate scholars and general readers alike...A brilliant book."
-Mary Poovey, Johns Hopkins University
." . . a fascinating, learned and intelligent investigation of the culture of dissection in early modern Europe. . . . Sawday's fusion of wide-ranging scholarship with thoughtful analysis of poetry, art and cultural material will be useful to all students of the Renaissance."
-"Early Modern Literary Studies
"Numerous scholarly disciplines, methodologies, and perspectives. have been utilized in the creation of this fascinating account, which goes well beyond academic etiologizing and systemization and also conveys, in many places, a vivid sense of life as lived during this period. [I]n his provocative book, the heuristic richness of which I can only intimate in the sketchiest of ways, the author offers a fresh, often compelling perspective on the Renaissance and the early-modern period."
-"The Italian Quarterly
..."no one interested in the Renaissanceshould miss "The Body Emblazoned."
-"Studies in English Literature

Inside This Book

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Dissection might be thought of as a self-explanatory term, though that is not entirely the case. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 21 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Sawday’s book from 1995 adds to the ongoing academic project of historicising the body by framing it via the concepts of anatomisation, dissection and partitions. Treating these both literally and metaphorically, it explores constructs of the human body in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when the body wasn’t viewed through a medical-scientific discourse, but in more diverse ways: via cosmology, theology, and the vexed struggle of body and anima.

Sawday’s material is broad, from the anatomical theatres of early modern Europe to the poetry of the metaphysicals. His argument about the body being mapped as a cognate to the cartographical explorations of the period is especially useful though, contrary to the title, his engagement with the blazon is rather startlingly unoriginal.

All the same, a fascinating and elegant analysis.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Callaghan on 28 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book, if you like this kind of reading then this is the book for you! Good story as well, as a great author!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
The Renaissance anatomized 28 Nov. 2000
By Mr. Stuart Heath - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Body Emblazoned is a wide-ranging History of what the Author terms the Renaissance Culture of Dissection. In so doing, its medical, scientific, philosophical, sociological, legal and artistic aspects are opened and cut up for our perusal. The Author demonstrates how the nature of the practice of anatomy changed over the period from, in his analogy, a voyage of discovery to a kind of colonisation through taxonomy, a classification and naming of parts. We are shown a sea-change in understanding, as the prevailing model for the body's inner workings was transformed from Microcosm to Mechanism. Along the way, we learn of the many difficulties in obtaining cadavers for dissection, of the curious architecture of anatomy theatres, and of how Rembrandt and Descartes might have met in the butchers' shops of 17th century Amsterdam. Mr. Sawday's Lit. Crit. background serves him well in his penetrating analyses of anatomical reference in the works of Spenser, Donne, Carew, Cavendish and Traherne, among others, but elsewhere it seems obtrusive, in the guise of barely relevant references to Freud, Deleuze and Joyce, for example, and in a somewhat irritating overuse of inverted 'commas'. Another irritation is the Author's heavy-handed moralizing: he is too anxious to spell out how oppressive, or misogynist, or cruel are the opinions and actions of the anatomists and their ilk: in my opinion such observations have more force when readers are left to draw their own moral conclusions. That said, one by no means has to agree with a book in order to enjoy it, and this one never lost my interest. It is a most intelligent and stimulating work, skilfully presented and nicely illustrated too.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.5 Stars for an Interesting, Yet Neglected Topic 23 Mar. 2009
By Bonam Pak - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read the 1996 revised paperback edition of the 1995 book. However, only a small number of minor errors has been corrected and two paragraphs have been added to the preface. The book has some 370 pages, which include 32 black and white picture pages, 44 footnote pages and 270 regular text pages.

Many interesting facts and analyses are offered for both, professionals and lay readers. Most of all on the beginning of modern European dissection in the Renaissance and its surrounding circumstances such as procurement of corpses, the ultimate punishment of public dissection after execution, dissection theaters and artistic representation of the procedures e.g. by Rembrandt. But also the parallel discovery of the world in colonialism and the discovery of the human body. And the invention of the dividing and subdividing of body units. Bonus information shed light upon missed knowledge opportunities not transported via historical motion pictures: for example that all women at Elizabeth (Spotlight Series)s court had to walk around bare breasted unless married with the queen's consent and that the executed coup plotters of Valkyrie (Single-Disc Edition) had (once again) been given for dissection for extra punishment (a procedure which was refused by the university).

You may be interested in Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers on modern anatomy and other uses of human corpses.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This book significantly changed how I perceive the human body. 19 July 2010
By Brown Tabby Tomcat - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I work in the physical sciences, not biological or medical sciences, but I absolutely loved this book. We live in these clumsy things, but most of us rarely appreciate our bodies, much less appreciate those who initially undertook the gruesome task of deciphering our anatomy long before the advent of formaldehyde or other preservatives. This book places their efforts, along with the work of those who illustrated and published their discoveries, within a sensible and coherent historical (social, religious and scientific) context. I recommend it very highly!
If you're interested in this topic, you probably will like it 7 April 2013
By Danyelle Mulin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is about human dissection in the early modern period. It explores the social, literary, religious, and theoretical implications of the practice very thoroughly and provides lots of textual and pictorial evidence. It is interesting, but you'll get more out of it if you have a bit of background knowledge on the time period and body theory, though that is not necessary. I didn't know anything about all this because I started it for a class, and I found it to be interesting although really really long and sometimes boring to me because its not exactly what I'm interested. But I could see it being a great book for someone interested in the topic
outstanding! 21 Oct. 2013
By yelena mazour-matusevich - Published on
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. Initially I intended only to read certain chapters for my own topic but could not help but read the whole book. I wish all academics wrote like this. Simple without being simplistic. Highly recommend. Fantastic book.
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