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Distributed for Iter Press

Midwife to the Queen of France

Diverse Observations

Diverse Observations is a groundbreaking book available for the first time in English. Written by a midwife committed to improving the care of women and newborns, it records the evolution of Bourgeois’s practice and beliefs, comments on changing attitudes related to reproductive health, and critiques the gendered elitism of the early modern medical hierarchy

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"This edition makes an excellent contribution to scholarship on midwife Louise Bourgeois, who provides an incisive eyewitness account of a turbulent period in early modern France and a rare female perspective on the city of Paris from the 'poorest she' to the world of the court. Alison Klairmont Lingo’s introduction, supporting notes, and medical glossary offer precious apparatuses for the presentation and interpretation of the text. Stephanie O’Hara’s translation demonstrates mastery of the scientific, technical, and colloquial vocabularies of the period, capturing the spirit of Bourgeois’s words while making them widely accessible."

Susan Broomhall, The University of Western Australia

"The Diverse Observations of Louise Bourgeois is a fascinating and rare source on women’s lives and the history of obstetrics in early modern France. In vivid prose, Bourgeois leads us deep into the ups and downs of childbirth and her own discoveries as a celebrated midwife. Many thanks to Alison Klairmont Lingo and Stephanie O’Hara for this splendid translation and this wide-ranging introduction to Bourgeois, her writing, and her craft."

Natalie Zemon Davis, Princeton University

Table of Contents

Illustrations xv
Acknowledgments xvii
Editor’s Introduction, by Alison Klairmont Lingo 1
The Writings 1
Life and Times 30
Reception and Afterlife 47
Louise Bourgeois’s Approach to Health and Disease 58
Translator’s Introduction, by Stephanie O’Hara 67
Translating an Early Modern Medical Text: Theory and Practice 67
French Editions of Observations diverses 72
The Compleat Midwifes Practice (1656) versus Observations diverses 73
A Note on the Text 76
Diverse Observations
Volume 1 79
Volume 2 187
Glossary of Materia Medica, by Alison Klairmont Lingo 313
Chronology 389
Appendices 393
A. Sonnet to Madame Concini, Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen 393
B. Examples of Gynecological and Obstetrical Instruments and Devices 395
C. Birthing Scenes and Related Images 399
Bibliography 403
Index 433

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