Monday, December 27, 2010

Sixteenth-Century Nose Jobs

Imagine--physicians successfully performed nose jobs (or rhinoplasties, as they are properly called) in the sixteenth century! The procedure is described in a book written by the Bolognese surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi, published in 1597 and recently sold to a modern plastic surgeon for quite a hefty sum (article here). A professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Bologna, Tagliacozzi devised ways to repair the noses, ears, and lips of men wounded in battle. The rhinoplasty involved attaching a flap of skin from the patient's bicep to the injured nose, then shaping the skin after it had properly attached itself to its new location. The poor man had to lie in bed with his arm attached to his head for three weeks! A better fate than going noseless, I suppose. I wonder what the good doctor's success rate was. It's amazing to me that such procedures could be conducted without antiseptics and antibiotics, not to mention anesthetics.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sun, Surf and Words

Registration for the 2011 Historical Novel Society Conference, to be held June 17-19 in San Diego, California, is now open. For readers and writers of historical fiction alike, this conference is a marvelous event. Imagine two days spent with 300 people who love historical fiction as much as you do! The Historical Novel Society has sponsored this event every other year beginning in 2005, and the conference has only gotten better each time. This year Cecilia Holland, Harry Turtledove, and Susan Vreeland are guests of honor. Many other published authors (Diana Gabaldon, Margaret George, Michelle Moran, C.W. Gortner, Mary Sharratt, to name only a few) will give presentations on the craft of writing historical fiction or the art of selling it. Attendees may sign up for a pitch session with an editor or agent who specializes in historical fiction. The event includes meals, banquet, book signings, presentations and endless opportunities to network and have fun. The best part about the conference: the published authors are completely accessible and very generous with their time and expertise. If you have a favorite author, it's a great way to meet him or her in person. Readers of historical fiction enjoy the conference as much as writers do.

The conference can accomodate only 300 attendees. Registration has already reached over 70, so check out the website and schedule soon if you are interested. I've attended the last two gatherings and promise you will not be disappointed.

Hope to see you there!

Sixteenth Century Quote of the Week

"Upon education above all other things depends the moral soundness and the prosperity of the community."

Cardinal Jacopo Sadoleto (1477-1547), Bishop of Carpentras
De liberis recte instituendis (1530)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sixteenth Century Quote of the Week

Portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra

"Your sacred Majesty, I am surprised and astonished that Your Majesty has deigned to write to the likes of me and, what is more, to ask me for something that can never be adequate to the dignity of your name. Your Majesty must know that I have always sought to serve you as opportunity allowed. But I am old and fully burdened with commissions from the Pope. However, should I have any time left, I would gladly use my efforts to create a work in marble or bronze or a painting for your Majesty. And should death thwart this desire, I will not fail, if one is permitted to sculpt or paint in the next world, to serve your Majesty where none grows old."

Michelangelo to Francis I, April 1546