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Revolutionary ExperimentsThe Quest for Immortality in Bolshevik Science and Fiction$
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Nikolai Krementsov

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199992980

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199992980.001.0001

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“Professor’s Head”: Isolated Organs

“Professor’s Head”: Isolated Organs

(p.39) 2 “Professor’s Head”: Isolated Organs
Revolutionary Experiments

Nikolai Krementsov

Oxford University Press

Focusing on Alexander Beliaev’s 1925 novella “Professor Dowell’s Head” and Sergei Briukhonenko’s extensive research on extracorporeal blood circulation conducted on isolated dog heads, it compares the goals and outcomes, techniques and values, and traditions and innovations in the fictional and actual investigations of “severed heads” whose life was sustained by elaborate scientific machinery. It follows the transformation of a head separated from its body from a frightening symbol of certain death into both an exciting emblem of “science’s victory over death” and an epitome of “scientists’ ethical deafness,” examining the attitudes of scientists, science patrons, newspaper reporters, writers, literary critics, and the lay public to the possibility of life without a body.

Keywords:   Alexander Beliaev, Sergei Briukhonenko, isolated organs, severed heads, extracorporeal blood circulation, brain in a vat, science and values

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