8vo, pp. [xvi], 447, ; title vignette, woodcut portrait of author to verso of title, four anatomical cuts and a horoscope within text, initials; some light foxing, small paper flaw to lower blank corner of E4; a very good copy in seventeenth-century calf, spine richly gilt in compartments, red morocco lettering-piece, marbled endpapers; upper joint split at head and foot but holding firm, corners worn, some staining to covers; very occasional contemporary underlining; contemporary ownership inscription to title.
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Des Hermaphrodits, accouchemens des femmes, et traitement qui est requis pour les relever en santé, et bien élever leurs enfants. Où sont expliquez la figure des laboureur, et verger du genre humain, signes de pucelage, defloration, conception, et la belle industrie dont use nature en la promotion du concept et plante prolifique.
First edition of this important contribution to the study of hermaphroditism by the Rouen doctor Jacques Duval (c. 1555-1615) who played a crucial role in a landmark case in shaping notions of gender and sexual identity. In 1601 Duval was summoned by the Rouen parlement to examine one Marie Le Marcis, who at the age of 20 had discovered she was a man and had determined to marry, only to be imprisoned for lesbianism and condemned to death. Duval’s medical colleagues concluded, upon inspection, that Le Marcis was a woman, but Duval, driven both by curiosity and sympathy, conducted a more intimate examination which, while scandalising his peers, revealed evidence of a male reproductive organ. Classified by Duval as a ‘gynanthrope’, Le Marcis was saved, took the name Marin, and lived henceforth as a man.
Duval was deeply affected by the case and eleven years later published Des Hermaphrodits. In the second part of the work, Duval examines hermaphroditism in fable and ancient medical writings, distinguishes three classes of hermaphrodite and proposes a nomenclature for each. The first part, composed in reaction to the high infant mortality rate in Rouen and intended as an aid to midwives and physicians, discusses male and female genitalia, the foetus, natural and caesarean birth, care for mother and baby post-delivery, and the importance to the individual and to society of correctly recognising the sex of a newborn. Due to the scarcity and appeal of this work it was reprinted in 1880.
Gay-Lemonnyer I, 862; NLM/Krivatsy 3586; Waller 2664; Wellcome I, 1975. Only three copies on COPAC (British Library, Oxford, and Wellcome).
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