Manual of Surgical Anatomy ... Translated from the Fourth German Edition, by Special Permission of the Author.
First English edition. The greatest endeavour of Wilhelm Roser (1817-1878) was the improvement of medical training and knowledge in Germany, by employing the methods and insights of medical teachers and doctors in other countries. Roser studied of medicine at Tubingen from 1834, and lectured there 1841 to 1846, and, following a few years in private practice, was made professor of surgery and ophthalmology in 1850 at Marburg, where he established a new surgical clinic, advancing ophthalmological studies. However, he also travelled to universities and hospitals across the German-speaking countries (Wurzburg, Halle, Berlin, Bonn, Jena, Leipzig, Vienna), and to Paris and London, as a result of which he came to believe the English and French medical schools, with their emphasis on practical experience and lively exchange between students and teachers, superior to the German system. Notably, as a consultant in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871, Roser specialised in reconstructive plastic surgery, surgery on broken limbs and other orthopaedic procedures, and urinary stones (which, famously, were of much trouble to Napoleon III at the time). All these themes are present in the present work, which, with its rich illustrations providing ‘window-sections’ (i.e. apertures in the skin or muscle created to show what lies beneath) also shows Roser’s conviction that a solid medical knowledge must be founded upon precise physiological and pathological observations.
Based on the fourth, enlarged edition of Roser’s Chirurgisch-Anatomisches Vademecum (first published in Stuttgart in 1847 and followed by further German editions in 1852, 1863 and 1870 – the fourth and most recent at the time of publication), this is a condensed, practice-oriented guide to the human body from head to toe. In his preface to the third German edition, reproduced here, Roser remarks that this ‘vade-mecum has not been put together with the intention of sparing beginners in medicine more accurate study of the dead body […] but rather to serve pre-eminently as an inducement and a guide to chirurgo-anatomical exercises on the dead subject’, in preparation for experience in surgery (p. ix). This publication was intended to complement Roser’s more comprehensive but more theoretical Handbuch der anatomischen Chirurgie (first published at Tubingen in 1844, and revised and re-published in numerous editions through the nineteenth century), and was only work of Roser’s to be made available to an English-speaking audience. The translator explains in his preface that in England, ‘no handbook of Surgical Anatomy has been either written, or introduced from foreign sources, in the English tongue’, but that ‘nearly all of those with whom I have spoken on the subject have – strange to say – regarded a manual on Surgical Anatomy and a manual of Operative Surgery on the Dead Body almost as convertible terms; thus failing to recognise the fact that a work such as the latter, all-important though it be, deals only with the carpentry, so to speak, of surgical science, while the former is concerned with the salient points to which the surgeon must ever have regard, as well in the living as in the dead body’ (pp. v-vi).