Off with your heads: isolated organs in early Soviet science and fiction


Abstract
In the summer of 1925, a debutant writer, Aleksandr Beliaev, published a ‘scientific-fantastic story’, which depicted the travails of a severed human head living in a laboratory, supported by special machinery. Just a few months later, a young medical researcher, Sergei Briukhonenko, succeeded in reviving the severed head of a dog, using a special apparatus he had devised to keep the head alive. This paper examines the relationship between the literary and the scientific experiments with severed heads in post-revolutionary Russia, which reflected the anxieties about death, revival, and survival in the aftermath of the 1914–1923 ‘reign of death’ in that country. It contrasts the anguished ethical questions raised by the story with the public fascination for ‘science that conquers death’
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2009.03.001
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Big Revolution, Little Revolution: Science and Politics in Bolshevik Russia.Nikolai Krementsov - 2006 - Social Research: An International Quarterly 73 (4):1173-1204.
Last Judgment: The Visionary Biology of J. B. S. Haldane. [REVIEW]Mark B. Adams - 2000 - Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):457 - 491.
In a Solitary Place: Raymond Roussel’s Brain and the French Cult of Unreason.John Tresch - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 35 (2):307-332.

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