The Man Who Crucified Himself

Readings of a Medical Case in Nineteenth-Century Europe


The Man Who Crucified Himself is the history of a sensational nineteenth-century medical case. In 1805 a shoemaker called Mattio Lovat attempted to crucify himself in Venice. His act raised a furore, and the story spread across Europe. For the rest of the century Lovat’s case fuelled scientific and popular debates on medicine, madness, suicide and religion. Drawing on Italian, German, English and French sources, Maria Böhmer traces the multiple readings of the case and identifies various 'interpretive communities'. Her meticulously researched study sheds new light on Lovat’s case and offers fresh insights on the case narrative as a genre - both epistemic and literary.

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Maria Böhmer, Ph.D. (2013), European University Institute Florence, Italy, is postdoctoral research fellow in the history of medicine at the Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME) at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.
List of Ilustrations

1 The Man Who Crucified Himself

2 The Storia della crocifissione as an Epistemic Genre

3 Making the Case Travel. Translation, Media, Reading

4 Professional Readings: Religion

5 Professional Readings: Madness

6 Professional Readings: Suicide

7 Popular Readings: Moral Education and Literary Entertainment


Anyone interested in the history of nineteenth-century medicine, psychiatry and medical journalism, specialists on medical case histories, scholars of literature interested in case narratives.
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