The Anatomy of the SensesNatural Symbols in Medieval and Early Modern Italy
The Anatomy of the Senses
Natural Symbols in Medieval and Early Modern Italy
Piero Camporesi is one of the foremost historians of folklore and popular beliefs in Europe today. This book is a brilliant account of medieval and early modern attitudes to the cosmos in general and the human body in particular. Drawing on a large body of literature, Camporesi builds up a remarkable picture of the everyday beliefs and practices of medieval and early modern Italy. He examines the symbolism relating to food and the overtones of vampirism which have haunted the Christian sacraments. He discusses the eating habits of monks and hermits which were held up as a religious model for the community. He offers a striking analysis of medieval views of the body, and of humanity situated at the centre of the symbolic universe. Moving from the anatomical table to the kitchen table, he shows the similarities between the anatomist and the cook, both of whom worked with dead flesh, with corpses which had to be cut up, greased, severed, skinned, diced and gutted.
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More Info
  • January 1995
  • 224 pages
  • 162 x 241 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $72.75
  • 9780745605067
Table of Contents
The Hieroglyphic for Pleasure.

Plants as Symbols.

The Cursed Cheese.

The "Stupendous Abstinences".

The "Dreadful Desire to Study.".

The Anatomy of Emptiness.

"Juicy, Soft and Flexible.".

Retarded Knowledge.


About the Author
Piero Camporesi is the Professor of Italian Literature at the University of Bologna. His previous books include The Magic Harvest (Polity, 1993) and Exotic Brew (Polity, 1994).
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'Comprehensive, lucid and original, The Anatomy of the Senses will stand high amongst Camporesi's works.' Roy Porter, Wellcome Institute for the History of medicine

'Piero Camporesi is one of the most stimulating and path-breaking historians.' Roy Porter

'These are essays in the fullest sense. Camporesi eschews the footnotes.... He reaches for the opposite: a personal response to subjects shaped by wide reading, inspired insights, and reflexive prejudices.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

'... The mass of detailed evidence collected here remains consistently fascinating. This is an important book by an important historian." Choice

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