Catalogue


William Harvey : a life in circulation /
Thomas Wright.
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2013.
description
xxi, 264 p.
ISBN
0199931690 (acid-free paper), 9780199931699 (acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2013.
isbn
0199931690 (acid-free paper)
9780199931699 (acid-free paper)
general note
"Originally published, in a slightly different format, as Circulation : William Harvey's revolutionary idea, in Great Britain by Chatto & Windus, 2012"--T.p. verso.
catalogue key
8653348
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2012-07-23:
Wright's (Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde) "biography of an idea as much as... of a man" presents a wonderful portrait not only of physician William Harvey but also of the changing face of the study of medicine and scientific inquiry in Europe in the early 17th century. In 1628, the socially ambitious and "very cholerique" Harvey shook up the world of anatomy by presenting the radical idea that the heart pumped blood, which then circulated rapidly through both arteries and veins-opposing the revered Galen's ideas about the role of the heart, arteries, and veins. Harvey challenged the medical establishment with private experiments on lower animals and public presentations of the forceful expulsion of blood from a dog's punctured pulmonary artery. Bold recreations of such events in Harvey's life are interspersed with essays illuminating the context in which he developed his ideas, such as the history of animal vivisection as a model for human anatomy. Other essays muse on broader cultural concepts such as metaphorical understandings of the heart and the extension of Harvey's ideas even beyond where he himself was comfortable. Wright pulls these threads together to create an enjoyably enlightening history of science, with more than enough background included to make this worthwhile for a general academic audience. 36 illus. Agent: Karolina Sutton, Curtis Brown (U.K.) (Oct,) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Appeared in Library Journal on 2012-08-01:
Though it's hard now to imagine the concept of the heart circulating blood as a groundbreaking theory, as Wright (Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde) explains, in 17th-century England it was a radical departure from conventional wisdom. Although ridiculed by traditionalists who followed the work of the ancient Roman physician Galen, who thought the heart created but did not move blood, William Harvey's ideas gained a following among intellectuals including Descartes and Hobbes. The language Harvey used comparing the heart to a hydraulic pump was adopted by revolutionaries and political philosophers who embraced the mechanical and more scientific description over the spiritual. VERDICT Using the doctor's surviving notes and letters as well as other contemporary sources, Wright convincingly re-creates William Harvey's England. The book's evocations of his boyhood education and college experiences give the later opposition to his theories a clearer context, and will convince readers that Harvey's concept of the heart changed people's perception of the world. Recommended for readers interested in history and medicine.-Susanne Caro, Univ. of Montana Lib., Missoula (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2013-07-01:
This remarkable book represents the best in historical detective work. Writer/lecturer Wright pieces together what remains of a fragmented documentary record, providing a brilliant interpretation and thorough consideration of the period in which William Harvey (1578-1657) lived. The book starts with Harvey's early life as a student at Cambridge and Padua. Harvey's initial probing and then breaching of two thousand years of dogmatic teaching about animal and human bodies was concordant with other intellectual explorations of this time. Wright admirably draws on limited original sources to explain what must have been behind Harvey's ideas and actions. Essays 5 to 7 in chapter 11, especially well conceived and presented, show Harvey's conviction that blood circulated from arteries to veins rather than acting through an ebb and flow process (similar to sea tides). Tragically, he died four years before the connection between arteries and veins--capillaries--was established microscopically by Marcello Malpighi, proving Harvey's theory. Harvey's work demonstrates a fundamental precept of science: to challenge an axiom, one must present new information, not simply reject that which has been accepted over time. Overall, an excellent account of a man considered the great transformational figure of 17th-century biological and medical science. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Academic students, general readers, historians, biologists, and physicians. D. R. Shanklin Marine Biological Laboratory
Reviews
Review Quotes
"[Wright] absolutely does justice to his subject. Bravo." --The Times(London, England), Vivenne Parry 'Thomas Wright's acute, imaginative book' --Sunday Times, April 1, 2012. John Carey 'In Circulation, Wright tells a good story, warts and allEL Wright reconstructs the research ... [and] is attentive to the world in which his subject lived. The semi-medieval conditions of life at the universities of Cambridge and Padua are well-described." -- Duncan Wu,The Independent "Thomas Wright's lucid biography deftly puts Harvey into his cultural context" -- Hermione Eyre,Prospect "Thomas Wright's lively little book on Harvey's revolutionary idea is a panegyric to the man's whirring mind, and to the excitements of thinking more generally." -- Helen Brown,The Daily Telegraph(4 stars) "As soon as I started the book, I was gripped with curiosity." -- William Leith,Spectator "Thomas Wright's book opens brilliantly and bloodily and continues in the same vein... a captivating, intellectually gripping journey into our country's scientific past." -- Druin Birch,Mail on Sunday
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, July 2012
Library Journal, August 2012
Choice, July 2013
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
In 1628, William Harvey published his revolutionary discovery that the blood circulated through the body. This one theory demolished 1,500 years of medical thinking, dating back to Galen and Roman times, and introduced a radical vision of the working of the human body that had profound cultural consequences. Indeed, Harvey's theory influenced not only anatomists, but also economists, poets and political thinkers. Its impact on what we now call the "history of science," and on culture generally, was arguably as great as Darwin's theory of evolution or Newton's theory of gravity. Thomas Wright's biography of Harvey celebrates the meteoric rise of a yeoman's son to the elevated position of King's physician, and paints an admiring portrait of an extraordinary mind amid a fertile time in England's intellectual history. Set in late Renaissance London, Wright's vivid portrait features an illustrious cast of historical characters, from Francis Bacon and John Donne to Robert Fludd, whose corroboration of Harvey's ideas helped launch his circulation theory. Wright traces Harvey's progress from the farmlands of Kent to England's royal palace, and offers a brilliant reconstruction of Harvey's epoch-making research, which involved countless dissections of human corpses and live animals. After he published his discoveries, Harvey became famous throughout Europe, where he toured the major universities, demonstrating his theory by vivisection. But when the Charles I was toppled during the English Civil War in 1649, his court physician fell too, and Harvey found himself banished from London. He would ultimately die in relative obscurity, suffering from gout and melancholy. A victim of the political turmoil of the times, William Harvey nevertheless was the mainspring of vast historical changes in medicine and anatomy, launching a revolution that would continue to run its course long after his death.
Main Description
In 1628, the English physician William Harvey published his revolutionary theory of blood circulation. Offering a radical conception of the workings of the human body and the function of the heart, Harvey's theory overthrew centuries of anatomical and physiological orthodoxy and had profound consequences for the history of science. It also had an enormous impact on culture more generally, influencing economists, poets and political thinkers, for whom the theory triumphed not as empirical fact but as a remarkable philosophical idea. In the first major biographical study of Harvey in 50 years, Thomas Wright charts the meteoric rise of a yeoman's son to the elevated position of King Charles I's physician, taking the reader from farmlands of Kent to England's royal palaces, and paints a vivid portrait of an extraordinary mind formed at a fertile time in England's intellectual history. Set in late Renaissance London, the book features an illustrious cast of historical characters, from Francis Bacon and John Donne to Robert Fludd, whose corroboration of Harvey's ideas helped launch his circulation theory. After he published his discoveries, Harvey became famous throughout Europe, where he demonstrated his theory through public vivisections. Although his ideas met with vociferous opposition, they eventually triumphed and Harvey became renowned as the only man in the history of natural philosophy to live to see a revolutionary theory gain wide currency. But just as intellectual ideas could be toppled, so too could kings. When Charles I was overthrown during the Civil War of the 1640s, his loyal court physician fell also, and Harvey, an unrepentant Royalist, was banished from London under the English Republic. He died in the late 1650s, a gout-ridden, melancholy man, uncertain of his achievement. A victim of the political turmoil of the times, William Harvey was nevertheless the mainspring of vast historical changes in anatomy and physiology. Wright's biography skillfully repositions Harvey as a man who embodied the intellectual and cultural spirit of his age, and launched a revolution that would continue to run its course long after his death.
Main Description
In 1628, William Harvey published his revolutionary discovery that the blood circulated through the body. This one theory demolished 1,500 years of medical thinking, dating back to Galen and Roman times, and introduced a radical vision of the working of the human body that had profoundcultural consequences. Indeed, Harvey's theory influenced not only anatomists, but also economists, poets and political thinkers. Its impact on what we now call the "history of science," and on culture generally, was arguably as great as Darwin's theory of evolution or Newton's theory of gravity. Thomas Wright's biography of Harvey celebrates the meteoric rise of a yeoman's son to the elevated position of King's physician, and paints an admiring portrait of an extraordinary mind amid a fertile time in England's intellectual history. Set in late Renaissance London, Wright's vivid portraitfeatures an illustrious cast of historical characters, from Francis Bacon and John Donne to Robert Fludd, whose corroboration of Harvey's ideas helped launch his circulation theory. Wright traces Harvey's progress from the farmlands of Kent to England's royal palace, and offers a brilliantreconstruction of Harvey's epoch-making research, which involved countless dissections of human corpses and live animals. After he published his discoveries, Harvey became famous throughout Europe, where he toured the major universities, demonstrating his theory by vivisection. But when the CharlesI was toppled during the English Civil War in 1649, his court physician fell too, and Harvey found himself banished from London. He would ultimately die in relative obscurity, suffering from gout and melancholy. A victim of the political turmoil of the times, William Harvey nevertheless was the mainspring of vast historical changes in medicine and anatomy, launching a revolution that would continue to run its course long after his death.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. xiii
Prologue. A new theory (1636): 'Blood moves ... in a circle, continuously'p. xvii
Raising Himself from the Ground
A Kentish upbringing (1578-1593): 'Half Farmer and half GentlemanÆp. 3
Cambridge studies I (1593): 'Making low legs to a noblemanÆp. 10
Cambridge studies II (c. 1593-1599): 'Devoting himself assiduously to his studies'p. 20
Galen, Mondino, and Vesalius: A brief history of anatomyp. 30
Paduan studies I (1599-C.1600): 'Fair Padua, nursery of the arts'p. 40
A dissection of sacred hearts, feeling hearts, and thinking heartsp. 54
Paduan studies II (c. 1600-1602): 'The exposition of anatomy'p. 61
Early years in London (c.1602-c.1610): 'Begin the world'p. 75
Advances (c.1610-c.1625): 'Good endeavours bring forth much good frute'p. 88
Placing his Head Among the Stars
A public lecture (late 1610s): 'Nasty (yet recompensed by admirable variety)'p. 101
Private research (late 1610s-1620s): 'A dog, crow, kite, raven ... anything to anatomizeÆp. 115
A short history of vivisectionp. 127
Birth of the theory (late 1610s-1620s): 'I began to bethink my selfp. 132
Francis Bacon, experiment, and empiricismp. 138
Demonstration (late 1610s-1620s): 'Whereby I offer you to perceive and judgep. 147
The landscape of Harvey's imagination (I): Microcosm and macrocosmp. 156
The landscape of Harvey's imagination (II): Perfect circlesp. 167
Everyday influences on Harvey's theoryp. 176
Publication and reception (1628-1650s): "Twos beleeved ... he was crack-brained'p. 186
Dissemination and defence (1628-1636): 'He is a circulator!'p. 195
Descartes' clockwork universep. 205
Civil War years (the 1640s): 'Anabaptists, fanatics, robbers, and murderers'p. 210
Last years (the 1650s): 'Shut-breeches'p. 219
Acknowledgementsp. 227
Notesp. 229
Bibliographyp. 239
Further Readingp. 251
List of Illustrationsp. 253
Indexp. 255
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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