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Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever
Ignaz Semmelweis

Wisconsin Publications in the History of Science and Medicine


In 1859 a Hungarian obstetrician named Ignaz Semmelweis, reflecting on his years as resident in the Vienna maternity clinic, wrote a graphic account of his attempt to diagnose and eliminate the then epidemic scourge of childbed fever. The resulting Etiology triggered an immediate and international squall of protest from Semmelweis’s colleagues; today it is recognized as a pioneering classic of medical history. Now, for the first time in many years, Codell Carter makes that classic available to the English-speaking reader in this vivid translation of the 1861 original, augmented by footnotes and an explanatory introduction. For students and scholars of medical history and philosophy, obstetrics and women’s studies, the accessibility of this moving and revolutionary work, important both as an historical document and as a groundbreaking precursor of modern medical theory, is long overdue.

Carter’s translation of this radical work, judiciously abridged and extensively footnoted, captures all the drama and impassioned conviction of the original. Complementing this translation is a lucid introduction that places Semmelweis’s Etiology in historical perspective and clarifies its contemporary value.

When this book was published, K. Codell Carter was professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University. His articles on nineteenth-century medical theory have appeared in a variety of scholarly journals, and his previous books include A Contemporary Introduction to Logic.

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Ocober 1983
LC: 91-026346 RG
288 pp.    5 1/2 x 8 1/2

ISBN-10: 0-299-09364-6
ISBN13: 978-0-299-09364-8
Paper $19.95 s

The 1983 cloth edition of this book is out of print, but the paperback is still available.


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