Tag Archives: Robertson Davies

Dancing with spiders: tarantellas and tarantism

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “There are always hysterical people undergoing extraordinary cures.” – Robertson Davies, The Cunning Man Etching of people dancing the tarantella and playing music as an antidote to a tarantula bite. Wellcome Collection. Public domain.   The industrial city of Taranto is in the “heel” of boot-shaped Italy. The Romans called […]

Depiction of defecation in the works of Pieter Bruegel

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Two behinds out the same window. Detail from Netherlandish Proverbs (The Blue Cloak). Pieter Bruegel the Elder. 1559. Gemäldegalerie. Via Wikimedia. “Civilization rests upon two things – the discovery that fermentation produces alcohol, and the voluntary ability to inhibit defecation.” —Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels The life of the peasant […]