Thursday, October 22nd, 2015...10:00 am

Story of Eleonore

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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Img0003L’homme considéré dans l’état d’aliénation mentale : ouvrage divisée en trois livres … is a 19th-century French volume about the state of insanity, which starts off with a frontispiece of the beautiful Eleonore.  As the text accompanying her visage reveals Eleonore is a “folie tranquille” or a woman who is not overtly insane (by our modern standards), but coldly and cleverly plotted to discredit her husband.

It doesn’t appear that the author, Charles Dunne, had a very high opinion of women.  He goes on to state that English women are exceedingly more badly behaved than their counterparts on the Continent, partly because they’re so prudish and repressed.  However Dunne claims that once those prudish barriers are down the English women can be wild so caution is advised.


Apparently Dunne was a Surgeon of the Royal College of Surgeons in London, as well as part of the Faculty of Medicine in Paris.  He authored several texts on insanity and participated in a few courtroom dramas where it appears they were either drawing on his expertise with insanity or he was being attacked by opposing counsel.

You can find a digitized version of the Brand’s lunacy case; a full report of this most interesting and extraordinary investigation, including copious animadversions on the principal actors in this drama … the late Lord chancellor, Mr. Sugden, and Mr. Dunne’s reply to councellor Austen, extracts from the author’s “Observations on insanity.” of which he was a principle player in Harvard’s catalog as well as at the Law School.

L’homme considéré dans l’état d’aliénation mentale : ouvrage divisée en trois livres … par le docteur Charles Dunne … Paris : Chez Dentu … ; Bruxelles : Chez Lecharlier …, MDCCCXIX [1819] RC340 .D92 1819 can be found at the Countway Library at the Harvard Medical School in Longwood.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, and Joan Thomas, Rare Book Cataloger at Countway for contributing this post.

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