Fine Specimens

Americans in the second half of the nineteenth century had no sure prospect of resting in peace after death. If their bodies weren’t embalmed for public viewing or dug up for medical dissection, their bones were liable to be displayed in a museum. In some cases, their skin was used as book covers by bibliophiles and surgeons with a taste for human-hide binding. The preservation, exhumation, and exhibition of human remains become, in the hands of the literary critic Lindsay Tuggle, an illuminating basis for a provocative reassessment of America’s foremost poet, Walt Whitman.

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