It is the inspiration for art, the subject of science and the source of some of the greatest stories ever told. From ancient body art to plastic surgery, from early anatomists to conceptual artists, grave-robbers to bionic athletes, our changing attitudes to the human body, how it works, what it should look like, how to live with it, what it means, tell us more about ourselves than almost any other subject in human history. And yet, until we fall ill, most of us take this extraordinarily complicated collection of flesh, bones and fluids entirely for granted. Blending history, science, art, literature and the everyday, the author investigates this most marvellous and mysterious of creations. The result is a treasure trove of surprising facts, remarkable stories and startling information that encompasses everything from the first finger-printing to the physiology of angels, from synaesthesia to the Clown Egg Register, from the death-mask of Isaac Newton to the afterlife of Einstein's brain. Combining science, history and culture, this guide to the human body explores every aspect of our anatomy from ancient body art to modern-day plastic surgery and discusses why some people are left-handed and why some cultures think the soul resides in the liver.
"In an engaging narrative that ranges from ancient body art to plastic surgery today and from head to toe, Aldersey-Williams explores the corporeal mysteries that make us human: Why are some people left-handed and some blue-eyed? What is the funny bone, anyway? Why do some cultures think of the heart as the seat of our souls and passions, while others place it in the liver? A journalist with a knack for telling a story, Aldersey-Williams takes part in a drawing class, attends the dissection of a human body, and visits the doctor's office and the morgue. But Anatomies draws not just on medical science and Aldersey-Williams's reporting. It draws also on the works of philosophers, writers, and artists from throughout history. Aldersey-Williams delves into our shared cultural heritage--Shakespeare to Frankenstein, Rembrandt to 2001: A Space Odyssey--to reveal how attitudes toward the human body are as varied as human history, as he explains the origins and legacy of tattooing, shrunken heads, bloodletting, fingerprinting, X-rays, and more." -- Publisher's description.