October 23, 2017

Dead at 17: An Illustrated Warning of the Deadly Perils of Self Abuse in 1830

Jim Edmonson of the Dittrick Museum has shared a wonderful post on his museum blog about a rare book from the 1830s entitled “Le Livre Sans Titre” (“The Book Without a Title”).

This beautifully illustrated tome is a graphic warning against the perils of self-abuse, or onanism, via the tale of a healthy and handsome young man's slow decline--symptom by terrifying symptom!--under the influence of the deadly vice.

At that time, masturbation was considered by moralists and physicians as a malady which lead to early death.

Edmonson has generously scanned the lovely hand-colored images and translated the captions from French to English, creating a kind of inadvertent 1830s graphic novel.



He was young, handsome; his mother's fond hope

He corrupted himself!... soon he bore the grief of his error, old before his time... his back hunches...

A devouring fire sears his gut; he suffers horrible stomach pains...

See his eyes once so pure, so brilliant; they are extinguished! a fiery band envelops them.

He can't walk any more... his legs give way

Hideous dreams disturb his slumber... he cannot sleep...

His teeth rot and fall out...

His chest burns... he spits up blood...

His hair, once so lovely, falls as if from old age; his scalp grows bald before his age....

He hungers; he wants to satiate his appetite; food won't stay down in his stomach...

His chest collapses... he vomits blood...

Pustules cover his entire body... He is terrible to behold!

A slow fever consumes him, he declines; all of his body burns up...

His entire body stiffens!... his limbs stop moving...

He is delirious; he stiffens against death; death gains strength...

At the age of 17, he expires, and in horrible torment

(via Dangerous Minds and Morbid Anatomy)




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