Human Remains: Medicine, Death, and Desire in Nineteenth-Century Paris

By Jonathan Strauss | Go to book overview

NOTES

INTRODUCTION: THE TOXIC IMAGINATION

1. Jean-Joseph Sue, Recherches physiologiques et experiences sur la vitalité. Lues a l’Institut national de France, le 11 Messidor, an Vde la république. Suivies d’une nouvelle edition de son Opinion sur le supplice de la guillotine ou sur la douleur qui survit à la décolation (Paris: chez l’auteur, an VI [1797]), iii-iv.

2. “All known precautions and all the usual aids against the insalubrity of the air must be brought together and applied with the greatest care” to exhume and transfer the remains (Jacques-Guillaume Thouret, Rapport sur les exhumations du cimetière et de l’église des Saints-Innocents; Lu dans la séance de la Société Royale de Médecine, tenue au Louvre le 3 mars 1789 [Paris: Ph.-Denys Pierres, 1789], 9).

3. Thouret, 11-12.

4. Those who resisted the removal of the dead from cities and churches frequently cited these long-standing traditions. See, for example, Louis Francois de Paule-Marie-Joseph de Robiano de Borsbeek, who defended intra-muros burials partially on the grounds that the earliest Christians had gathered in cemeteries, “where so many martyrs lay buried,” and that later, under the emperor Constantine, “cemetery and church were one and the same place” (De la violation des cimètieres [Louvain: Vanlinthout et Vandenzanden, 1824], 21-22).

5. In his Topographie médicale de Paris ou Examen général des causes qui peuvent avoir une influence marquee sur la santé des habitans de cette ville, le caractère de leurs maladies, et le choix des précautions hygiéniques qui leur sont applicables (Paris: J.-B. Bailliere, 1822), Claude Lachaise remarked on the singularity of this history: “Convinced that the proximity of the dead could only be deleterious to the living, the ancients took care to remove dead bodies from their cities and to bury them in places consecrated by religion. All peoples practiced inhumation and were in agreement about it. The Roman laws, the decrees and councils of the various churches, the statutes of our kings expressly ordered it. In the first centuries after its founding, Paris did not depart from such a wise and generally observed law, but ceased to obey it when, having been made a capital city, it saw its inhabitants reach beyond the natural boundaries of the Seine and spread their dwellings to

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