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Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius

I don’t usually link to book reviews but this one is fascinating. Check it out, from California Literary Review:

The clunky, oddball title is both intriguing and off-putting, the subtitle quaint and risible — evoking images of Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman excavating a plot in a downpour (“Young Frankenstein”) or possibly Oliver Hardy whacking Stan Laurel’s toe in the graveyard dirt (“Habeas Corpus”).

In this age of cremations, cryonic storage, and ashes shot into space, grave robbing seems to hail from another era. However, the theft of human remains persists as a rare but fascinating phenomenon.

… Still, it’s a shock to open Dickey’s book and learn that the skulls of some very prominent people — composers Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Joseph Haydn; painter Francisco Goya; Renaissance scholar and theologian Sir Thomas Browne; and scientist and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg — were dug up, stolen, mutilated, handed from one person to another, and perhaps in some cases mislaid or lost forever.

How could this have happened?

[continues at California Literary Review]

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