Satirising sympathy
in Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture
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Chapter four considers the overwhelmingly dominant popular understanding of Tagliacozzi’s method. The story of the ‘sympathetic snout’ had its roots in Tagliacozzi’s own lifetime, but developed significantly over the seventeenth century in poems, plays, and pseudo-scientific texts before its inclusion in the first book of Samuel Butler’s hit poem, Hudibras, cemented its domination of Tagliacozzi’s legend. This remained the popular image of Tagliacozzi into the early twentieth century: a man who took the ‘flesh’ for his ‘supplemental noses’ from a lower-status man’s ‘bum’. When the allograft donor died, the nose would also putrefy and drop off, through the medical doctrine of sympathy. The chapter therefore positions this narrative in the history of transplantation. Sympathy had always been a controversial doctrine, but in the early eighteenth century it was increasingly relegated to quackery. The sympathetic snout proved a surprisingly persistent and flexible metaphor up to the early twentieth century, satirising notions of personal and political autonomy, and producing troubling echoes for sympathy as an important interpersonal emotion.

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