Krankheit Schwangerschaft? Schwangerschaft, Geburt und Wochenbett aus ärztlicher Sicht seit 1800

Abstract

52 letters demonstrating, in chronological order, five thematic focal points: Goethe's studies in comparative osteology, especially his (re-)discovery of the Os intermaxillare in human beings, the development of his doctrine on colours, Soemmerring's discovery of the Macula lutea in the human retina, the latter's controversial treatise Uber das Organ der Seele, and finally palaeontology, particularly Soemmerring's study of Ornithocephalus. The correspondence provides valuable background information about contemporary research. For instance, Soemmerring's influence in directing Goethe from a physical to a physiological conception of his Farbenlehre is revealed. Vice versa, Soemmerring's thesis that the liquor in the cerebral ventricles formed the sensorium commune provoked severe criticism by Goethe, who pointed out that it resulted from an inadmissible mixture of physiology with philosophy. Several of the issues figuring in this correspondence have been discussed in context in the first and third volume of the Soemmerring-Forschungen, partly by Wenzel himself, and the present edition can be seen as a welcome supplement. Apart from this, students of science in the Goethezeit will doubtless benefit from a perusal of this correspondence. Wenzel's detailed and competent comments, short biographies of persons mentioned, and index of names, places, works and subjects make it an extremely accessible source. Although these appear to be complementary volumes, the one a swift overview of medical views of pregnancy, birth, and the puerperium from 1800 until today, the other a cross-sectional study of medical writing on pregnancy in Central Europe in the nineteenth century, the former volume is not what the title announces, and represents just a distillation of the second, Borkowsky's doctoral dissertation, for the grand public. Thus really one volume is to be assessed, the dissertation on "Schwangerschaftshygiene", which does not mean hygiene in a strict sense but medical advice on the conduct of pregnancy. On delivery and the puerperium she has almost nothing to say. Unlike the thesis-a photographic reproduction of the original typescript with corrections in pen-the popular version is professionally typeset and contains several interesting illustrations. That Borkowsky has been overpowered by her material is evident just from the scholarly apparatus, some 2,272 literature citations and another 317 end notes: all in a volume of 286 pages of text. This enormous scaffolding of learning does not support a magnificent research effort but just an appraisal of the standard gynaecological and obstetrics textbooks of Central Europe in the nineteenth century. They are assessed not from the somewhat detached …

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