The Ignuda Morte of Ruysch Mummie: Bodily Knowledge and Poetics in Giacomo Leopardi

Maria Conforti


Leopardis Operette Morali can be read on the background of developments in medicine and the sciences in the early 19th century. Among the topics most frequently dealt with by the Italian poet, the duration of biological life and the attempts at its prolongation; the possibility of a complete extinction of the human species, and more generally the question of death and its meaning. The dialogue Federico Ruysch e le sue mummie shows a remarkable awareness of the modern debate on mummies and other embalming techniques. With the help of classical motifs, medical and anatomical prowess in preserving dead bodies - as other promises of the medical art - are satyrised and at the same time affectionately staged in a very human and living vision of the afterlife.

Key words: Giacomo Leopardi Embalming techniques Anatomical knowledge

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