Frances Larson’s Severed, reviewed: the book and the head both contain a beautiful internal structure


Peculiarly timely and timeless…

National Post | Arts

Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found
Frances Larson
Granta Books
336 pgs; $29.95

91a8+bmeLwLFrances Larson’s Severed is a book about the human head detached from the human body. In the wake of recent ISIS beheadings, its relevance is clear. While bloodthirsty crowds no longer gather publicly to witness decapitations, many people watch them online in the privacy of their homes. Larson exposes the persistence, prevalence and power of this brutal and terrifying act.
Though it may not occur to you at first, almost every civilization has collected heads. We see remnants of this in our idioms: “You may be trying to keep your head or managing not to lose your head; biting someone’s head off… laughing your head off or keeping it screwed on… wanting someone’s head on a platter or else watching heads roll…” It makes a certain kind of sense that heads have been so…

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