The Two-headed Boy, and Other Medical Marvels

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Cornell University Press, 2004 - Medical - 295 pages
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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.


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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THE TWO-HEADED BOY: and Other Medical Marvels

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

In a companion volume to his A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities (1997), physician Bondeson explores "the history of teratology, the science of monstrous births." Comprised of a dozen essays related by ... Read full review

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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.  


The Hairy Maid at the Harpsichord
The Stonechild
The Strangest Miracle in the World
Some Words about Hogfaced Gentlewomen
Horned Humans
The Biddenden Maids
The Tocci Brothers and Other Dicephali
The King of Polands Court Dwarf
Daniel Cajanus the Swedish Giant
Daniel Lambert the Human Colossus 257
Cateating Englishmen and French Frog Swallowers
Notes on Sources

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About the author (2004)

Jan Bondeson, M.D., also holds a Ph.D. in experimental medicine. He is the author of "A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities" & other works.

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