Collapse Volume IV, 367–390


Arbor Deformia


Among manuscripts published and treatises written on teratology and cryptozoology, one work has been more influential than others: Ambroise Paré’s Des monstres et des prodiges, written in the sixteenth century. Paré was a distinguished French surgeon, the royal surgeon of Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III. Monsters and Prodigies was penned by Paré at the peak of the sixteenth-century teratological frenzy inherited from the occult and medical preoccupations of the Middle Ages. Written toward the later stages of his professional life as a surgeon, Monsters and Prodigies is a monstrous paean to arborescent models of taxonomy. For Paré, as a scientist who believed that his teratologic treatise should be incorporated with his works on surgery and practical medicine, the problem of taxonomy is more twisted and deformed than monsters and deformities themselves…