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Physiology of Love and Other Writings

Physiology of Love and Other Writings

Edited, with an introduction and notes, by Nicoletta Pireddu
Translated by David Jacobson
  • Book Info
    Physiology of Love and Other Writings
    Book Description:

    Physician, anthropologist, travel writer, novelist, politician, Paolo Mantegazza (1831-1910) was probably the most eclectic figure in late-nineteenth century Italian culture. A prolific writer, Mantegazza can be seen as a forerunner of what has come to be known as cultural studies on account of his interdisciplinary approach, his passionate blend of scientific and literary elements in his writings, and his ability to transcend the boundaries between 'high' and 'low' culture. Though extremely popular during his lifetime both in Italy and abroad, Mantegazza's works have not been made available in a significant English language compilation.

    This volume is a representative overview of Mantegazza's key works, many of them translated into English for the first time. In addition to the unabridgedPhysiology of Love(1873), a veritable best-seller at the time of its initial publication, this compilation features selections from Mantegazza's writings on medicine, his travelogues, his epistolary novelOne Day in Madeira(1868), and his treatise on materialistic aesthetics. Replete with an extensive and informative introduction by the editor,The Physiology of Love and Other Writingsalso excerpts Mantegazza's works of science fiction, memoir, and social and cultural criticism.

    As an anthology of the works of Paolo Mantegazza, a writer of diverse topical orientations, this volume is also an account of the circulation of ideas and cross-fertilization of disciplines that defined a crucial period of Italian and European cultural life.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8879-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-1)
  4. [Illuatrations]
    (pp. 2-2)
  5. Introduction Paolo Mantegazza: A Scientist and His Ecstasies
    (pp. 3-54)

    ‘An optimist has died, a great and unrelenting optimist who had his glory days, and who, many many years ago, inaugurated in Italy a form of literature that wanted to make science popular. A physician has died, a physiologist, a writer who believed in happiness.’¹ For both novice readers and connoisseurs of Paolo Mantegazza, this eulogy – one of the many commemorating the decease of the father of Italian anthropology – captures the professional and personal qualities that make this intellectual unique and memorable.

    Curiously, whether written in 1910 on the occasion of Mantegazza’s death or throughout his long, productive, and exciting...

  6. A Note on the Texts and Their Translations
    (pp. 55-60)
  7. Translator’s Note on Revising the Existing Translation of The Physiology of Love
    (pp. 61-64)
  8. Suggestions for Further Reading
    (pp. 65-70)
  9. The Physiology of Love
    (pp. 73-316)

    It is now many years since I wrote that to live means tonourish oneself and generate,and the deeper I cast the sounding line into the dark abysses of life the more I persuade myself that in the above definition are faithfully pictured the most salient characteristics of all creatures which, from the bacteria to man, come to life, multiply, and die on the face of our planet. If, however, I wished to simplify my idea, reducing life to its simplest and most essential form, I would say thatto live means to generate.

    Every living body is perishable,...

  10. From On the Hygienic and Medicinal Properties of Coca and on Nervine Nourishment in General
    (pp. 319-350)

    Man, in his use and abuse of life, feels the continual need to repair through nourishment his molecular wear and the expenditure of forces that constitute his mode of being. Some of the substances which he takes from the outer world help him to repair in particular the tissues that regularly fray apart in the exercise of their vital actions, and they are calledplastic nutrients; while others, made for calorification, are burned by the oxygen breathed into the vast web of all the organs, or are deposited in the form of adipose in cellular tissue, where they serve as...

  11. From One Day in Madeira: A Page in the Hygiene of Love
    (pp. 351-376)

    […] On the eve of his arrival in Madeira, William’s joy was mixed with agitation; he seemed fitfully nervous. He spoke in broken phrases, shut himself up in his cabin a hundred times a day, and a hundred times reemerged on the quarterdeck. Often he checked his watch; and although he sat at table with the others, he could not for the life of him have later said with whom he had drunk or eaten. He spent the night on the quarterdeck.

    On the morning of the 17th all the passengers stood on deck, devoured by a common curiosity to...

  12. From A Voyage to Lapland with My Friend Stephen Sommier
    (pp. 377-422)

    Voyages undertaken in haste have their advantages, and do not deserve the ill repute in which they are so often held. After all, in the fevered pace of life today, what do we not rush through? Do we read every word of a book? Do we study a political reform for ten years before enacting it? Do we even perchance remember what we did yesterday? We have been put to sleep for so many years with the lullaby of immutable dogmas that, once awake, we go running off for who knows how long. Then too, when one knows how to...

  13. From India
    (pp. 423-482)

    Surely there is no one among us who in childhood did not dream of India and in youth did not yearn for it. TheThousand and One Nights, Golconda, nabobs, elephants, bayadères¹ are part of popular poetry in the theatres, and come to us at night in mysterious dreams. We find something of India in our brain even before it has been born in outer life; we find fragments of it in our dictionaries, on our skin, in our words, everywhere. A child in Lombard says;Va a Calicut, go to Calcutta; the man of the people wears a shirt...

  14. From Epicurus: Essay in a Physiology of the Beautiful
    (pp. 483-503)

    They will accuse me, perhaps, of vain arrogance and foolish pride, but in me there cries out, louder than the fear of these accusations, the deep conviction that aesthetics is still in its cabbalistic or metaphysical phase. Even in the best books on the subject, the author’s idea is always couched in clouds of divination; you find in them the apostle’s faith or the priest’s exorcism; the admirer’s enthusiasm and a thirst for the ideal; in vain you search for science’s serene contemplation, the pure and simple description of facts.

    We have dealt with the beautiful as we earlier did...

  15. From The Tartuffe Century
    (pp. 504-505)

    […] Before proceeding to study the various human hypocrisies, the various disguises of King Tartuffe,¹ I must justify the name with which I have baptized our century – lest I otherwise be accused of slander.

    And why should one want to accuse our century of hypocrisy, when you will tell me that hypocrisy was born with the first man and woman? In every age mankind has had the same vices and virtues: at most, the vices and virtues change name and garb; but the nature of good and evil always remains the same. […]


    Now, the nineteenth century (may it...

  16. From Head: or, Sowing Ideas to Create New Deeds
    (pp. 506-507)

    […] Respect, my dear Enrico, all honest religions. They are all forms of the ideal, they are all different paths that lead to the same goal. In this world, small as it is, men speak hundreds, nay thousands of tongues, and one and the same thought wears the garb of the most varied and foreign idioms. So it is with the need for the ideal: all men on earth feel it, but they satisfy it in different ways. Religions are so many languages of the ideal, with which we speak the same thought. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, let us all...

  17. From Political Memoirs of a Foot Soldier in the Italian Parliament
    (pp. 508-512)

    […] One then enters the Chamber,¹ by various routes, depending on the criterion used by the electorate, who naturally have a wide range of values.

    The elective Chamber should be a great family of men united, if not by blood ties, at least by a great psychic kinship bred of common honesty and an equal share of cultivation and cleverness.

    Instead the Chamber, which one enters by such varied doors, is not a family but a crowd of diverse, jostling individuals.

    Luckily the place has such a charged and red-hot atmosphere that all these individuals soon reach the same temperature;...

  18. From The Year 3000: A Dream
    (pp. 513-514)

    Paolo and Maria left Rome, capital of the United States of Europe, in the largest of theiraerotachs, the one intended for long trips.

    It is an electrically run airship. By releasing a spring, they convert the two comfortable armchairs that stand in the middle of the ship into quite comfortable beds. Opposite the chair-beds are a compass, a small table, and a quadrant bearing the three wordsmotion,heat,light.

    With the touch of a button theaerotachsets off, gaining speeds of up to 150 kilometres an hour. With the touch of another button the room can be...

  19. From ‘The Psychology of Translations’
    (pp. 515-516)

    […] Once upon a time books walked, and it meant much to an author to know that in his lifetime a book of his had crossed the boundaries of his province. Today books also run, on railway tracks and with steamship propellers; they are promoted on the wings of the telegraph, and in this new course they meet and greet one another and exchange their visiting cards. From certain books jostled along such routes, from mountain to mountain, sea to sea, shoot sparks that send off flames, and a hot, luminous aura spreads all about them, warming even those far...

  20. Index
    (pp. 517-532)