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.