Venice: Remondini, 1761.
First edition, first issue, an exceptional copy, completely untouched in the original printer’s interim-boards, of “one of the most important [works] in the history of medicine” (Garrison & Morton).
“After Antonio Benivieni [1443-1502], Giovanni Battista Morgagni is considered the founder of pathological anatomy. His ‘De sedibus’ [the offered work], regarded as one of the most important books in the history of medicine, established a new era in medical research.” (Haskell F. Norman). “Morgagni’s contribution to the understanding of disease may well rank with the contributions of Vesalius in anatomy and Harvey in physiology.” (Heirs of Hippocrates).
“On the basis of direct examination and records of some 700 post mortem dissections, he advanced the procedure of basing diagnosis, prognosis and treatment on a detailed and comprehensive knowledge of the anatomical conditions of common diseases. In the above volumes, some of the cases are given with a precision and details hardly surpassed in medical history. His proposal was a shift of emphasis from the traditional ‘nature’ of a diseace to its anatomaical ‘seat’. It combined the approach of anatomist and pathologist, making their special knowledge available to the diagnostician.” (Dibner).
“Morgagni’s most important work, …, is his ‘De sedibus et causis morborum per anatomen indagatis’ of 1761. This book grew out of a concept of Malpighi, which Morgagni then developed into a major work. The concept may be stated simply as the notion that the organism can be considered as a mechanical complex. Life therefore represents the sum of the harmonious operation of organic machines, of which many of the most delicate and minute are discernible, hidden within the recesses of the organs, only through microscopic examination.
“Like inorganic machines, organic machines are subject to deterioration and breakdowns that impair their operation. Such failures occur at the most minute levels, but, given the limits of technique and instrumentation, it is possible to investigate them only at the macroscopic level, by examining organic lesions on the dissecting table. These breakdowns give rise to functional impairments that produce disharmony in the economy of the organism; their clinical manifestations are proportional to their location and nature.
“This thesis is implicit in the very title ‘De sedibus et causis morborum per anatomen indagatis’. In this book Morgagni reasons that a breakdown at some point of the mechanical complex of the organism must be both the seat and cause of a disease or, rather, of its clinical manifestations, which may be conceived of as functional impairments and investigated anatomically. Morgagni’s conception of etiology also takes into account what he called ‘external’ causes, including environmental and psychological factors, among them the occupational ones suggested to Morgagni by Ramazzini.
“The parallels that exist between anatomical lesion and clinical symptom served Morgagni as the basis for his ‘historiae anatomico-medicae’, the case studies from which he constructed the ‘De sedibus’. There had, to be sure, been earlier collections of case histories, in particular Théophile Bonet’s Sepulchretum (1679), but Bonet’s work was, as René Laënnec wrote of it, an ‘undigested and incoherent compilation,’ while the special merit of Morgagni’s work lies in its synthesis of case materials with the insights provided by his own anatomical investigations. In his book Morgagni made careful evaluations of anatomic medical histories drawn exhaustively from the existing literature. In addition, he describes a great number of previously unpublished cases, including both those that he had himself observed in sixty years of anatomical investigation and those collected by his immediate predecessors, especially Valsalva, whose posthumous papers Morgagni meticulously edited and commented upon. The case histories collected in the ‘De sedibus’ therefore represent the work of an entire school of anatomists, beginning with Malpighi, then extending through his pupils Valsalva and Albertini to Morgagni himself.
“Morgagni may thus be considered to be the founder of pathological anatomy. This work was, in turn, developed by Baillie, who classified organic lesions as types (1793); Auenbrugger and Laënnec, who recognized organic lesions in the living subject (1761 and 1819, respectively); Bichat, who found the pathological site to be in the tissue, rather than the organ (1800); and Virchow, who traced the pathology from the tissue to the cell (1858).” (Luigi Belloni in DSB).
“The first issue of ‘De sedibus’ had the title page of Volume I printed in red and black. In a second issue, also of 1761, the title page was printed entirely in black, and there exists at least one copy of the first edition with imprint, Venice: Ex Typographia Remondiniana, 1762. The work was reprinted in Naples in 1762 and at Padua in 1765, as well as 1769, a German translation in 1771-76, a French translation in 1821-24, and an Italian version in 1823-29.” (Haskell Norman in Grolier/Medicine).
Evans 98; PMM 206; Dibner 125; Grolier/Medicine 46; Heirs of Hippocrates 792; Norman 1547; Garrison-Morton 2276; Waller 6672; Osler 1178; Lilly Library, Notable Medical Books, p. 125.
Two volumes, large folio: 390 x 245 mm, both volumes entirely ntouched in their original state from the printer; uncut and un-pressed in carta rustica, internally fine and clean with only occasional light spotting, an exceptional set. Engraved frontispiece portrait by Jean Renard after Giovanni Volpato, pp. [i-viii] ix-xcvi, [1-2] 3-298 ; [1-2] 3-452. Highly rare in such fine condition.