Juice of Life: The Symbolic and Magical Significance of Blood

Overview

From the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, bodily fluids or "humors" - whether blood, semen, or phlegm - obsessed the educated and ignorant alike. These "elixirs" were believed to possess magical powers guaranteeing long life, sexual potency, intellectual insight (particularly in women), and even holiness. Piero Camporesi, a specialist in popular culture from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, tells this fascinating story with an abundance of examples, still of great relevance to those of us who drink ...
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Overview

From the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, bodily fluids or "humors" - whether blood, semen, or phlegm - obsessed the educated and ignorant alike. These "elixirs" were believed to possess magical powers guaranteeing long life, sexual potency, intellectual insight (particularly in women), and even holiness. Piero Camporesi, a specialist in popular culture from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, tells this fascinating story with an abundance of examples, still of great relevance to those of us who drink "cordials" for revitalizing the heart, take potions for sexual vigor, and believe that a ruddy complexion is a sign of health. This is also a proto-feminist story, for women's purified body, with its menstrual discharge, endows her with greater intelligence - a paradoxical but revolutionary conclusion in an era of misogyny.
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Editorial Reviews

Steve Schroeder
Camporesi, professor of humanities at the University of Bologna, Italy, weaves together a narrative from medieval and Renaissance texts that affords a fascinating glimpse into the significance of blood in the formation of modern European culture. The book is perhaps most valuable for its insight into the "pagan" depths that lie close to the surface of a Christian veneer and for its appreciation of the mythical elements common to Christian and pagan constructions of European thought. The vampire, the werewolf, the moon, the sun, and the Eucharist all swim together in Camporesi's rendition of mystical, medical, and popular texts--as they swim together in the composition of "Western" thought.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826408334
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/1/1995
  • Pages: 136
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 7
1 Aliment of Life 13
2 Quintessence of Blood 27
3 The Glorious Blood 53
4 The Animate Clock 77
5 Aridity and Corruption 101
Notes 123
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