Patrick's Rare Books

Dionis, Anatomy of Human Bodies Improv’d, 2nd ed, 1716

Dionis, Anatomy of Human Bodies Improv’d, 2nd ed, 1716

The Anatomy of Human Bodies Improv’d, According to the Circulation of the Blood, and all the Modern Discoveries. Publickly Demonstated at the Theatre In the Royal Garden at Paris by Monsieur Dionis, Chief Surgeon to the late Dauphiness, and to the present Dutchess of Burgundy. Translated from the Third Edition, Corrected and Enlarged by the Author; with an Ample Dissertation upon The Nature of Generation; And several New Systems. With Figures of all the Parts of the Body, and an Useful Index of the Principal Matters. The Second Edition. London. 1716.


Full brown leather Cambridge binding with raised bands and black title plate on spine. Scattered scuffs and scratches. Small grey stain on rear board. Top coroners chipped. Top and bottom of spine chipped with exposed cords. Front hinge repaired. Small marginal tear at bottom corner of first page of preface and L2 (not affecting text). Several folded corners scattered throughout. Folding plate intact and free of tears. Clean, bright, and tight throughout with minimal foxing. Only internal markings noted are penciled prior dealer’s price on front paste down and ink “En” at end of index. 


Approval of Royal College of Physicians, title, 3 pg translator’s preface, 8 pg author’s preface, 8 pg contents, plate 1, 1 (B) - 451 (Gg2) text and plates, 20 pgs index, 2 blanks.


Twenty-one plates: Nineteen numbered plates, one unnumbered folding plate, and one plate labeled as two tables. Plate I precedes page 1, plate II precedes 9, III follows pg 22, IV follows 36, V follows 50, VI follows 60, VII follows 70, VIII follows 80, IX follows 90, X precedes 113, XI precedes 139, XII follows 162, XIII follows 178, Tab I/II precedes 195, XIV follows 248, XV follows 280, XVI precedes 311, XVII precedes 343, XVIII precedes 375, XIX precedes 407, folding plate of heart precedes pg 445.


Pg 342 marginal note on pituitary marked by an eighth note.


Dionis’ book is a pleasure to read. The author references ancient and modern authorities (Galen, Bartholin, etc). The text is conversational and often addresses the reader as “Gentlemen.” Anecdotes of dissections are interspersed among the chapters on descriptive anatomy. The plates provide clues to the dissection methods. The scalp is reflected bilaterally after a midsagittal incision. The thorax is opened along the anterior midline from the suprasternal notch. The abdomen is opened by a cruciform incision.


The text also breathes life into the dissections, as these excerpts from pages 197 and 199 well illustrate:


“The King’s first physician...laid open the Corps in the usual manner. ...the first thing that presented it self to our View, was a Child lying upon the Intestines, tied fast by the String to its Secundine, and swimming in a great Quantity of Blood that fill’d the whole Cavity of the Abdomen.”


“But in regard the Time commonly allotted for the Dissection of a dead Corps, is so short, that one cannot trace all the uncommon Particulars; I chose to cut out these two Bodies, with the Neck of the Womb, the Testicles, the Tubae, the Ligaments, and part of the Spermatick Vessels; and wrapping ‘em up in a Napkin, sent ‘em to my House, to be viewed at more Leisure.”


“The Physicians that were present not finding it proper to cut up the Head.... At Night I made a nicer Dissection of the Womb at my own House but took care not to gash it too much, meaning to keep it as entire as I could, in order to have a Draught of it.”


“Her Majesty had not the same Aversion to Anatomical Demonstrations that other Women have.”


Per Heirs of Hippocrates 428, Dionis’ Anatomia corporis humani (1st Latin ed) was published in 1696. He was considered “the most illustrious French surgeon of the seventeenth century.” And “his Anatomia is considered a good text.”


Not in Garrison-Morton, however, see G-M 5575: “Dionis taught operative surgery at the Jardin-du-Roi, a famous training ground for surgeons.”


See also Osler 2468 (for the French edition of 1690): “In 1671 Louis XIV established a demonstratorship in operative surgery at the Jardin Royal and appointed Dionis, who conducted the course until 1680.”