Right now, I'm reading a phenomenal book - Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth. I guess you'd call it historical fiction and, normally, I don't go for that kind of thing. But this book is amazing and I'm not surprised it won the Booker Prize. It's the sort of tale that sucks you in and rolls you over at the end of every page. And it's challenging - I have to keep my dictionary close by so I can figure out what Unsworth is on about.
One of the characters is a doctor named Matthew Paris. He served time in prison for publishing essays questioning the existence of God. After his release, he wound up working on a slave ship owned by his uncle. He's passing the journey to Africa making a translation of a work by an English physician named Harvey called de motu cordis. I had to look it up:
In 1628, physician William Harvey published a treatise on the circulation of blood. Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus (Concerning the motion of the heart and blood), more commonly referred to as de motu cordis.
de motu cordis was a landmark study in physiology because it was the first to look upon the heart as a mechanical pump instead of a mystical "seat of the spirit." Harvey also used a formal approach to his study that ascribed a layer of reliability to his findings unusual for the time.
The illustrations are amazing.