The Beating Heart: The Art and Science of Our Most Vital Organ

The Beating Heart: The Art and Science of Our Most Vital Organ
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Published by Bloomsbury on 12th September 2024

The heart has been portrayed in art and texts from Ancient Egypt, China and India. In Western religious and secular art, images of the heart denoting all manner of passions were abundant from the Middle Ages on. Even in the modern era, in which its function is fully understood, the heart's place in the language, idiom and art of popular culture remains undiminished.

In The Beating Heart, Robin Choudhury explores how the heart has been represented over time and across cultures. He investigates the interplay between the heart depictions of successive eras and the prevailing cultural discourse - religious, social, philosophical - of each. In parallel, he considers how the 'scientific' understanding of the function of the heart has unfolded over 2,500 years, from the observations of Aristotle, through detailed anatomical descriptions beginning in the Renaissance, to the emergence of experimental physiology in the 17th century, culminating in the 20th in full understanding of the molecular and cellular processes by which the heart beats autonomously.

The Beating Heart is a beautifully illustrated journey of discovery across four millennia of human history, in the company of an author whose medical knowledge of the heart is matched by his fascination with the visual arts.