Clavis Medicinae Duplex, published in 1766, is a short treatise of only some thirty pages. It is nonetheless hard to categorise. One could regard it as a number of pharmacological tables but also as a physiological map of how the body reacts to various impressions. It may be described as a summation of the natural-history tradition of medicine, with roots extending deep into history, and it contains features that make it the medical testament of Linnaeus, to be opened much later and only then to be intelligible. In order to be understood, the Clavis must therefore be correlated with texts of a similar kind and with the medical aspirations of its own time. In many ways it is the most challenging of Linnaeus’s publications and at the same time one of the hardest to interpret, perhaps even his least successful one, rarely or never given its due, as it demands a good deal from its readers. It combines the approach of the natural-history taxonomist with that of the speculative medical author who maintains that the human being essentially consists of marrow and bark. Disease classification, physiology and pharmaceutics are compounded. The Clavis is a text that provides keys to Linnaeus’s personality.
This edition includes an introduction, a facsimile of Clavis medicinae duplex, with translation, notes on the translation, a botanical commentary with English and Latin names, the English names in the translation and the corresponding modern scientific names, the names of diseases in Linnaeus and in the 21st century, explanations of words and concepts, Linnaeus’s lectures on life, ‘Notata subitanea’ (1771), and illustrative foldouts. This publication (2012) is also the first complete edition in English with commentaries, since it was originally published by Carl Linnaeus in Latin in Stockholm in 1766 at the expense of Lars Salvius.
The book - as No. IV in the MUNDUS LINNÆI Series - is illustrated with images of Clavis medicinae duplex in the form of pages of a manuscript and of a copy of the book from Linnaeus’s own collection in the library of the Linnean Society of London. In addition there is a facsimile in original size, comprising the entire book from a well preserved first print of Clavis medicinae duplex owned by a private collector of Linneana in Sweden. The MUNDUS LINNÆI Series as a whole incorporates new themes, forgotten stories, facsimile reprints and original research by leading experts in general culture, the arts and natural history - all presented in beautiful and scholarly volumes.
With introduction and commentary by
Birger Bergh (1935-2008), Professor emeritus of Latin at
Lund University and an expert on Saint Bridget.
Gunnar Broberg, Professor emeritus of the history of ideas
and learning at Lund University and the editor of the
yearbook of the Swedish Linnaeus Society.
Bengt Jonsell, Professor Bergianus emeritus in Stockholm,
and former chairman of the Swedish Linnaeus Society.
Bengt I. Lindskog, Professor emeritus in medical history in
Copenhagen and author of a dictionary of medical terminology
that has been published in several editions.