Synopses & Reviews
From ancient myth (Actaeon's illicit glimpse of the bathing Diana), to eighteenth-century France (when two voyeurs sparked a bloody anti-royalist riot on the Champs-de-Mars), to modern-day advances in microscopy and photography, Gonzalez-Crussi surveys the ways in which, through the sense of sight, perceiver and perceived are inextricably joined, each affecting the other in a profound way, and how our awareness of this union has led to millennia of curious preoccupations.
"What Oliver Sacks does for the mind, Gonzlez-Crussi (On Being Born and Other Difficulties) does for the eye in this captivating set of philosophical meditations on the relationship between the viewer and the viewed. The author, amused and amazed by our desire to see what is forbidden, draws on historical and cultural examples, from Actaeon spying on the goddess Diana to a pair of voyeurs in revolutionary France who unwittingly incite a massacre. Mixed in with such accounts are personal reflections drawn from medicine (Gonzlez-Crussi is professor emeritus of pathology at Northwestern's medical school). He is astounded, for example, at how many people have pestered him for access to an autopsy, just to say they'd seen one. The ornate sentences are filled with stunning images, like his description of an infant just emerged from the womb, bloody, 'weakly flailing his arms' and crying, appearing to the author not as a symbol of life but as resembling 'a foot-soldier in a defeated army, a pitiful survivor in a catastrophic retreat,' and his prose never loses its elegance, even when the stories he tells veer into the bawdy. Not every anecdote resonates perfectly, but Gonzlez-Crussi is a charming raconteur who will win over readers with his thoughts on our visual connection to the world around us. 10 b&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Intriguing and thoughtful work from a doctor and thinker." Kirkus Reviews
"Gonzalez-Crussi characteristically brings literary as well as medical knowledge to bear on each kind or facet of seeing, successfully demonstrating that each is a distinct phenomenon...providing the kind of deep, slow, cultivated reading pleasure that pretty much only he affords." Booklist
About the Author
F. Gonzalez-Crussi is currently Professor Emeritus of Pathology at Northwestern University Medical School. He is the author, most recently, of On Being Born and Other Difficulties. His other books include Notes of an Anatomist, The Five Senses (Los Angeles Times Book Prize nominee), Suspended Animation (a New York Times Notable Book), The Day of the Dead, and There Is a World Elsewhere.