The Mesmerist by Wendy Moore
The Society Doctor Who Held Victorian London Spellbound

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Moore tells her story with gusto. Her style is racy and she does her best to transform medical history into human drama by focusing on the relationship between Elliotson and the friend who eventually accused him of charlatanism...
-Guardian

Synopsis

Medicine in the early 1800s was a brutal business. Operations were performed without anaesthesia while conventional treatment relied on leeches, cupping and toxic potions. It was said of one surgeon, 'His surgical acquirements were very small, his operations generally very badly performed and accompanied with much bungling, if not worse.' It was lucky, for the doctor at least, that his deafness made him immune to his patients' dying groans.

Into this milieu came John Elliotson, the dazzling new hope of the medical world. Charismatic and ambitious, Elliotson was determined to transform medicine from a medieval hodgepodge of archaic remedies into a practice informed by the latest science. In this aim he was backed by Thomas Wakley, founder of the new Lancet magazine and a campaigner against corruption and malpractice. Then, in the summer of 1837, a French visitor - the self-styled Baron Jules Denis Dupotet - arrived in London to promote an exotic new idea: mesmerism. It was a trend that would take the nation by storm but would ultimately split the two friends, and the medical world, asunder, throwing into sharp focus fundamental questions about the line between medicine and quackery, between science and superstition.

 

About Wendy Moore

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Published April 27, 2017 by Orion Publishing Group Limited.
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Mesmerist
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Lucy Hughes-Hallett on Apr 30 2017

Moore tells her story with gusto. Her style is racy and she does her best to transform medical history into human drama by focusing on the relationship between Elliotson and the friend who eventually accused him of charlatanism...

Read Full Review of The Mesmerist: The Society Do... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Kathryn Hughes on Apr 27 2017

More troubling, though, is the way she flattens the terrain over which her hero travels. Notwithstanding his “bumpy” rides and “uphill struggles”, Elliotson is figured as a proto-modern, fighting the corrupt conservatism of a sclerotic medical establishment in his desire to deliver free, effective and painless healthcare to the people.

Read Full Review of The Mesmerist: The Society Do... | See more reviews from Guardian

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