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On the Fabric of the Human Body: The Ligaments and Muscles / Edition 1

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Overview

Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, first published in 1543 is, along with William Harvey's classic work from 1628 on the discovery of the circulation of the blood, one of the two most famous books in the history of medicine. A cornerstone of the scientific revolution, published the same year as Copernicus's monumental treatise on the heliocentric universe, De humani corporis fabrica inaugurated the modern study of anatomy, leading to the eventual overturn of the Galenic system that had dominated medical science for fourteen centuries.

Illustrated with woodcuts by artists in the school of Titian that have for centuries remained standard icons of medical literature, Vesalius's work is also a classic of sixteenth-century graphic art. When it was originally published in the mid-sixteenth century its Latin text guaranteed its accessibility to an international medical and scientific audience, all of whom had been educated to read and write Latin. Of course, fewer and fewer physicians and scientists read Latin today, and even professional classicists have reported considerable difficulty in interpreting Vesalius's technical Renaissance medical Latin. Although many editions, revisions, adaptations, and facsimiles of this work appeared over the centuries, remarkably it was never before now translated, except for fragments, into a modern language other than Russian (Moscow, 1950-1954). The Richardson and Carman translation supplies a modern, accessible version of this monumental work for the first time. Dr. Richardson and Professor Carman bring a lifetime of experience to the task of translating and presenting Vesalius's painstaking account of the fabric of the human body, having devoted many years to scholarly study of the Latin language (Dr. Richardson) and detailed human anatomy (Professor Carman).

Book II: The Ligaments and Muscles, the second of seven books into which Vesalius's encyclopedic work is divided, contains 39 illustrations, including the series of dissected musclemen that remain the most famous anatomical illustrations of all time. As in Book I: The Bones and Cartilages (published in 1998), all of Vesalius's marginal notes have been translated and the historiated initial letters have been reproduced. Book II is made up of 62 chapters and the majority of the chapters end with detailed translator's notes explaining subtleties in the translation. There are also indexes to the muscles, with detailed muscle grids; to the text; to people and places; to words from Greek and Latin; and to the translator's notes. Informative and interpretive prefaces by the translator and anatomist provide details about the translation process of the book and the anatomy described therein.

The lasting influences of both Vesalius's many discoveries and the dramatic woodcuts on the history of anatomy and the visual arts cannot be overestimated. The biographer of Picasso, John Richardson, points out that Vesalius's illustration were the direct inspiration for Picasso's famous painting The Dryad (1908) and other works. "How Picasso chanced upon the work of this body snatching anatomist, who saw his plates benefiting painters and sculptors as well as physicians and surgeons, I do not know. The most likely source would have been Apollinaire, a bibliophile with a taste for antiquarian medical books." (A Life of Picasso: 1907-1917. The Painter of Modern Life [New York: Random House, 1996]).

As Dr. Richardson states in his preface to Book II, "The reader cannot but admire Vesalius's attention to detail, his astounding memory, his powers of observation and description, and his capacity for sheer hard work." Book II: The Ligaments and Muscles is a truly superb account of the muscles of the human body.

This section of the Fabrica, made up of sixty-two chapters, is somewhat longer than Book I and contains the series of dissected musclemen that remain the most famous anatomical illustrations of all time. The lasting influences of both Vesalius's many discoveries and these dramatic woodcuts on the history of anatomy and the visual arts cannot be overestimated. For example, the biographer of Picasso, John Richardson, points out that Vesalius's illustration were the direct inspiration for Picasso's famous painting The Dryad (1908) and other works. "How Picasso chanced upon the work of this body snatching anatomist, who saw his plates benefiting painters and sculptors as well as physicians and surgeons, I do not know. The most likely source would have been Apollinaire, a bibliophile with a taste for antiquarian medical books." (A Life of Picasso: 1907-1917. The Painter of Modern Life [New York: Random House, 1996])

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Medical Association
I highly recommend this volume. It is beautiful, complete, and an excellent value. Medical doctors or doctors of philosophy, we all walk in the shadow of Vesalius.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780930405755
  • Publisher: Norman Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Series: Anatomy Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 550

Table of Contents

1 Definition of ligament; its function and differentiation2 Definition of muscle
3 Differentiation of muscles
4 The number of muscles
5 The skin, the cuticle, and the membrane that lies under the skin over the whole body; also the fat that is stored between the skin and the fleshy membrane
6 How the nature of the cuticle, the skin, the fat and the fleshy membrane are to be studied by dissection
7 The instruments that can be procured for performing dissections
8 The muscle that moves the skin of the forehead
9 Dissection of the muscle that moves the skin of the forehead
10 The muscles of the eyelids
11 The eye muscles
12 Dissection of the eye muscles
13 The muscles of the cheeks, lips and nasal alae
14 Dissection of the muscles that move the cheeks, lips and nasal alae
15 The muscles that move the lower jaw
16 Dissection of the muscles that move the lower jaw
17 The muscles that move the hyoid bone
18 Dissection of the muscles belonging specifically to the hyoid bone
19 The muscles of the tongue
20 Dissection of the muscles of the tongue
21 The laryngeal muscles
22 Dissection of the laryngeal muscles
23 The muscles that move the arm
24 Dissection of the muscles that move the arm
25 Ligaments of the joint between the humerus and the scapula
26 The muscles that move the scapula
27 Dissection of the muscles that move the scapula
28 The muscles that move the head
29 Dissection of the muscles that move the head
30 The ligaments of the skull and the first and second vertebrae
31 The muscles of the abdomen
32 Dissection of the abdominal muscles
33 The muscles of the male testes and the female uterus
34 Dissection of the muscles of the testes
35 The muscles that move the thorax
36 Dissection of the muscles that move the thorax
37 The ligaments of the thorax
38 The muscles that move the back
39 Dissection of the muscles that move the back
40 The vertebral ligaments
41 The muscle attached by its sinewy thinness to the middle of the palm and the skin on the inside of the fingers
42 The fleshy substance lying over the inner area of the fingers, their roots and the middle of the palm
43 The muscles that move the fingers
44 The muscles that produce movements of the wrist
45 The muscles that pronate and supinate the radius
46 The muscles that flex and extend the elbow
47 The ligaments of the arm
48 Dissection of the muscles of the arm; how many muscles are found in each portion of it
49 The muscles peculiar to the penis
50 The muscle of the neck of the bladder
51 The muscles of the rectum
52 Dissection of the muscles of the anus and of the neck of the bladder
53 The muscles that move the lower leg
54 Dissection of the nine muscles that move the lower leg
55 The muscle hidden in the back of the knee
56 The muscles that move the thigh
57 Dissection of the muscles that move the thigh
58 The subcutaneous tendon in the sole of the foot
59 The muscles that move the foot
60 The muscles that move the toes
61 The ligaments that bind the ilia to the sacrum, also those of the hip and knee joints and all other ligaments in the lower leg and foot
62 Method of dissecting the muscles of the lower leg and foot and of all ligaments not hitherto dissected; also the number of muscles in the lower leg and foot
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