By Holly Tucker
Wonders and Marvels has been a little quiet this past week. But life has actually been not quiet at all!
I just returned from a whirlwind research trip to Paris. Mission: to delve into the mysteries of a stash of 400 year-old documents in the archives of the French Academy of Sciences. The picture above will you a sense of why I left the library with more than a little dust on me.
My archival sleuth work will figure prominently in the book that I'm finishing up. So stay tuned!
In the meantime, a few highlights:
Over the course of just of few days, I dug gently around in cartons and cartons of manuscripts and corrected page proofs from the 17th century.
I stood awkwardly in front of an equally old building in the busy Marais quarter, waiting for someone to let me in. I wanted desperately to have a chance to where one of my historical guys lived, and did some of the crazy experiments I describe in the book. I lucked out when a mail person showed up. And lost my pride once again as I begged and pleaded to have a look around. (It worked!)
I visited the Paris Observatory, which was built by another fascinating historical figure that I bring back to life in the book. And then, what the heck, I sat quietly in an anatomical amphitheatre in the heart of the Latin Quarter.
My French surgeons learned their craft in these two-storied dissection halls. I spent a good twenty minutes, sitting right in the very spot where the dissection table would have stood, soaking it all in.
I didn't have to beg to get in, but I did get many odd looks from the workers of the Paris Human Resources department who inhabit this small historical building now.
Que la vie est belle!
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