Anatomist, The

Federico Andahazi
Though it is set in sixteenth-century Venice, Federico Andahazi's The Anatomist could not be more contemporary in its wit, its ironic turns, and its themes of hypocrisy, censorship, and the nature of sexuality--so much so, in fact, that it was denounced by the wealthy sponsor of Argentina's prestigious Fortabat Prize, sparking a literary scandal and charges of modern-day censorship that eerily echoed the book's major themes. As the novel opens, Mateo Colombo, the most famous physician in Renaissance Italy, finds himself behind bars at the behest of Church authorities. He has been charged with heresy, but not for organizing a clumsy team of body snatchers to feed his anatomical research, nor for his obsessive pursuit of Mona Sofia, Venice's most beautiful prostitute. His crime is even more heinous, not only heretical in the Church's eyes, but equally subversive of the whole secular order of Renaissance society. Like his namesake Christopher Columbus, he has made a discovery of enormous significance for mankind. But whereas Christopher voyaged outward to explore the world and found America, Mateo looked inward, across the mons veneris, and uncovered the clitoris.Based on historical fact, The Anatomist is an utterly fascinating excursion into Renaissance Italy, as evocative of time and place as the work of Umberto Eco. Above all, it is an audacious novel, exposing not only the social hypocrisies of the day, but also the prejudices and sexual taboos that may still be with us four hundred years later. Brilliantly translated from the Spanish by Alberto Manguel, The Anatomist introduces American readers to a new writer of consummate wit and subversive flair.


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