The Two-headed Boy, and Other Medical Marvels

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Cornell University Press, 2004 - Medical - 295 pages
4 Reviews

A successor to his popular book A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities, this new collection of essays by Jan Bondeson illustrates various anomalies of human development, the lives of the remarkable individuals concerned, and social reactions to their extraordinary bodies.

Bondeson examines historical cases of dwarfism, extreme corpulence, giantism, conjoined twins, dicephaly, and extreme hairiness; his broader theme, however, is the infinite range of human experience. The dicephalous Tocci brothers and Lazarus Colloredo (from whose belly grew his malformed conjoined twin), the Swedish giant, and the king of Poland's dwarf—Bondeson considers these individuals not as "freaks" but as human beings born with sometimes appalling congenital deformities.

He makes full use of original French, German, Dutch, Polish, and Scandinavian sources and explores elements of ethnology, literature, and cultural history in his diagnoses. Heavily illustrated with woodcuts, engravings, oil paintings, and photographs, The Two-Headed Boy and Other Medical Marvels combines a scientist's scrutiny with a humanist's wonder at the endurance of the human spirit.

Contents:

The Two Inseparable Brothers, and a Preface

The Hairy Maid at the Harpsichord

The Stone-child

The Woman Who Laid an Egg

The Strangest Miracle in the World

Some Words about Hog-faced Gentlewomen

Horned Humans

The Biddenden Maids

The Tocci Brothers, and Other Dicephali

The King of Poland's Court

Dwarf Daniel Cajanus, the Swedish Giant

Daniel Lambert, the Human Colossus

Cat-eating Englishmen and French Frog-swallowers

  

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User Review - Flag as inappropriate

This was certainly a fascinating book! Each chapter focused on a different medical abnormality. Some chapters were quite disgusting - particularly the explanation of the 365 children born at once to one woman. While the book was meticulously researched, it lost some of its credibility with the author's own opinions sprinkled throughout. Had he been less opinionated, I would have liked the book more - his own views just really contrasted with the rest of the book.  

Review: The Two-Headed Boy, and Other Medical Marvels

User Review  - Mrs N - Goodreads

This book is about human physiological anomalies. Like, a lady who laid two eggs. Seriously. It's a long story as to why I got this book, but parts of it were pretty interesting. Read full review

Contents

The Hairy Maid at the Harpsichord
1
The Stonechild
39
The Strangest Miracle in the World
64
Some Words about Hogfaced Gentlewomen
95
Horned Humans
120
The Biddenden Maids
141
The Tocci Brothers and Other Dicephali
160
The King of Polands Court Dwarf
189
Daniel Cajanus the Swedish Giant
217
Daniel Lambert the Human Colossus 257
237
Cateating Englishmen and French Frog Swallowers
261
Notes on Sources
285
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About the author (2004)

Jan Bondeson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Rheumatology, University of Wales College of Medicine.

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