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AMBROISE PARÉ. The Works of That Famous Chirurgeon, Ambroise Paré

AMBROISE PARÉ. The Works of That Famous Chirurgeon, Ambroise Paré; Translated ... By Th. Johnson; Together With Three Tractates Concerning the Veins, Arteries, and Nerves, Exemplified With Large Anatomical Figures, Translated Out of Adrianus Spigelius. London, 1678.

The French surgeon’s collected works contains a section titled “Of Monsters and Prodigies” that is a compelling contribution to the literature of human and animal monstrosities that was gaining in popularity in the late sixteenth century. Paré is best known for his surgical techniques based on experience and observation, so his treatment of monsters is a departure from his usual methods. His tales of medical curiosities focus on their possible basis in the science of human reproduction. Paré speculated that these “creatures” resulted from a lack of discipline in the parents’ seeds. Although Paré is an enthusiastic storyteller, he also brings skepticism and scientific questioning to his survey of monsters. This book is a fascinating example of Renaissance bookmaking. The illustrations were mostly borrowed from earlier authors’ books and therefore provide an overview of the depictions of creatures at the time. The copy on display here is a later English translation from an incomplete Latin edition. The Ebling Library also owns several other editions of this fascinating Renaissance surgeon’s writings.

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Page last updated: May 25, 2011
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