By Jeremy J. Citrome (auth.)
Jeremy Citrome employs the language of latest psychoanalysis to provide an explanation for how surgical metaphors turned an incredible instrument of ecclesiastical energy within the wake of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. Pastoral, theological, leisure, and clinical writings are one of the texts mentioned during this wide-ranging study.
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Extra info for The Surgeon in Medieval English Literature
The surgical metaphor is therefore seen to work both ways: not only are we handled by a "gropande" God, but we too "grope" His body. The grace of Incarnation brings with it certain responsibilities, and the anxiety that Christ's literal body in the form of the Host might be misused surfaces in much penitential literature. The poem thus is strewn with both negative and positive examples of hands and handling: the protagonists make proper use of their hands, the antagonists improper. Christ possesses "gropyng so goud" (1.
Where "rote has ben ever," there is now the potential for salvation rather than extermination. The detail here is carefully chosen to create an oppositional symmetry between these two scenes that frame the birth of Christ. " 55 In this fashion, the poet extends the representation of spiritual corruption as a physical ailment beyond the previous scene of Old Testament punishment, to the merciful New Testament present. Yet the poet carries over not only the medical metaphor of the disease, but of the cure as well.
The etymology of surgery, literally "handicraft," becomes the basis by which all surgical authors describe their profession. De Chauliac repeatedly calls it a "manuel craft. " 67 So, surgeons stressed the importance of clean hands. According to John Arderne, for example, a surgeon should have "clene handes and wele shapen nailey and clensed fro all blaknes and filthe. " 68 Early historians of medicine took this as Arderne' s prefiguring of surgical hygiene, 69 but this emphasis on cleanness possesses a deeper, spiritual import.
The Surgeon in Medieval English Literature by Jeremy J. Citrome (auth.)