Introduction: The Toxic Imagination

Jonathan Strauss

in Human Remains

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780823233793
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241262 | DOI:

Series: Forms of Living

Introduction: The Toxic Imagination

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Beginning with a description of the 1786 emptying of the Saints-Innocents cemetery in the heart of Paris and the morbidly baroque spectacle it produced, this chapter outlines the steps taken to exclude the dead from urban space, and particularly Paris, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It also overviews the book's two principal arguments. First, the status of death and the dead changed dramatically during this period, largely as the result of advances in the medical sciences. Second, the role of death in the rise of modern medicine reveals certain irrational, erotic elements in the increasing legitimacy and reach of medical thought. Medicine owed much of its new-found stature to its ability to articulate, in dissimulated but elaborate ways, an erotics of the abject.

Keywords: Saints-Innocents; Paris; Baroque; status of death; role of death

Chapter.  6377 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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