Pig-Faced Lady of Manchester Square
“Teratology” is the big word in my class this week. We’re focused on early-modern monsters. The term “monsters” is used very loosely to include anomalous flora, fauna, humans, and other worldly beasts. The ones that fascinate me most are the many creatures–part human, part other–that populate travel writings from Marco Polo to Mandeville; medical writings by Liceti and Pare; popular broadsides; and, of course, fairy tales.
Miss Piggy from Manchester Square up here delights the eyes and tickles the imagination. But I did have to chuckle awhile back at the publicity for one of my talks. Friends, I can tell you that I look nothing like her. She’s much more sophisticated than I will ever be–and dresses much better to boot!
For those craving more: The most impressive book on early-modern monsters and marvels has to be Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park’s Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750. Jan Bondeson’s books come in close second. Who knew that there were people who can spontaneously combust or that, still now, there are people who are born with tail-like appendages? A doctor and a sleuth extraordinare, Bondeson is on the case.