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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser


Tristram Shandy


"When my father had got so far,—what a blaze of light did the accounts of the Caesarian section, and of the towering geniuses who had come safe into the world by it, cast upon this hypothesis? Here you see, he would say, there was no injury done to the sensorium;—no pressure of the head against the pelvis;—no propulsion of the cerebrum towards the cerebellum, either by the os pubis on this side, or os coxygis on that;—and pray, what were the happy consequences? Why, Sir, your Julius Caesar, who gave the operation a name;—and your Hermes Trismegistus, who was born so before ever the operation had a name;—your Scipio Africanus; your Manlius Torquatus; our Edward the Sixth,—who, had he lived, would have done the same honour to the hypothesis:—These, and many more who figured high in the annals of fame,—all came side-way, Sir, into the world.

The incision of the abdomen and uterus ran for six weeks together in my father's head;—he had read, and was satisfied, that wounds in the epigastrium, and those in the matrix, were not mortal;—so that the belly of the mother might be opened extremely well to give a passage to the child.—He mentioned the thing one afternoon to my mother,—merely as a matter of fact; but seeing her turn as pale as ashes at the very mention of it, as much as the operation flattered his hopes,—he thought it as well to say no more of it,—contenting himself with admiring,—what he thought was to no purpose to propose." - Tristram Shandy

This novel is meant to be kinda silly. History is a bit murky on c-sections, some were delivered by c-section if the mother died in labor but before antibiotics and sanitation, it would be a really bad idea as an elective procedure. Julius Caesar's mother survived his birth, so he was probably born the normal way