The Ephesian Matron and Johnson's Corpse

Helen Deutsch

in Loving Dr. Johnson

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780226143828
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226143859 | DOI:
The Ephesian Matron and Johnson's Corpse

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This chapter traces the elaborate literary path of Thomas Tyers's allusion to the story of the Ephesian matron in attempted justification of the autopsy of Samuel Johnson. It suggest that both Johnson and the Ephesian matron are balanced precariously between an exemplary embrace of death and a scandalous choice of life. This chapter argues that the Ephesian matron's shocking embrace of appetite is mirrored by Johnson's indecent fear of death and desperate deathbed self-scarification.

Keywords: Ephesian matron; Samuel Johnson; Thomas Tyers; autopsy; fear of death; self-scarification

Chapter.  17102 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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