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Severed - Frances Larson

9780871404541
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Title
Severed - a history of heads lost and heads found
Author
Frances Larson
format
Hardback
Publisher
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Language
English
UK Publication Date
20170714

The human head is exceptional. It accommodates four of our five senses,encases the brain, and boasts the most expressive set of muscles in the body.It is our most distinctive attribute and connects our inner selves to the outerworld. Yet there is a dark side to the head's preeminence, one that has, in the courseof human history, manifested itself in everything from decapitation to headhunting.So explains anthropologist Frances Larson in this fascinating history of decapitatedhuman heads. From the Western collectors whose demand for shrunken headsspurred massacres to Second World War soldiers who sent the remains of the Japanesehome to their girlfriends, from Madame Tussaud modeling the guillotined headof Robespierre to Damien Hirst photographing decapitated heads in city morgues,from grave-robbing phrenologists to skull-obsessed scientists, Larson explores ourmacabre fixation with severed heads.

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Frances Larson is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Durham and the author of An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World and Severed. She lives in Durham.

Larson delves into the grotesque yet wildly fascinating topic of decapitation… [Her] lively, conversational tone turns these morbid objects into something more meaningful than a mere expression of the macabre.

[W]ide-ranging and thoughtful… In an age where so many taboos are fading, the severed head retains its dreadful and sacred power.
Mike Jay

No need to explain why this nonfiction book made the top of my list… Despite the ghoulish subject, this is a closely researched, indeed, scholarly study of the bizarre customs of hunting, collecting, trading, displaying and otherwise bonding with other people's heads.
Marilyn Stasio

This idiosyncratic history of decapitation… jumps between historical and recent examples, from the invention of the guillotine in the French Revolution to Damien Hirst's self-portrait in a morgue… This morbid obsession, [Larson] argues, is common to all cultures-a realization that dawned on her when she worked at a museum that exhibited shrunken heads. Her book shares in this fascination-'dangerous but irresistible'-and makes some distinctions between the forms it takes.

Type
BOOK
Keyword Index
Head - History..|Head - Social aspects.|Beheading.
Country of Publication
New York (State)
Number of Pages
317

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