Articulating the Elephant Man: Joseph Merrick and His Interpreters by Peter W. GrahamThe surgeon Frederick Treves and the anthropologist Ashley Montagu helped make him famous. Filmmaker David Lynch and playwright Bernard Pomerance made him a star. According to the popular press, singer Michael Jackson wanted to buy his bones from London Hospital. Stories about Joseph Merrick--the Elephant Man of Victorian England--combine elements of myth and fable, tragedy and melodrama, freak show and farce. And they seem to have perennial appeal. In Articulating the Elephant Man, Peter W. Graham and Fritz H. Oehlschlaeger examine how the phenomenon called the Elephant Man has been constructed and reconstructed--how Joseph Merrick has been transformed from a suffering individual into an exhibit, a shape-shifting curiosity whose different guises variously suit the needs of particular audiences, genres, and interpreters. Merricks presenters have been a varied group of artists, medical experts, scholars, and biographers. But preceding them all is Merrick himself, no mere passive sufferer but an individual who bravely endured--and, when he had to, successfully exploited--his outrageous bodily disorder. According to Graham and Oehlschlaeger, each account--starting with Merricks autobiographical pamphlet--blends description and creation, observation and self-revelation, and the selective recording, alteration, and suppression of details. Telling the story of the Elephant Man, whether as a drama, a film, a sequence of poems, or a medical case study, often reveals as much about the observer as it does about the subject. The Victorians accounts of Merrick, for example, reflect that eras tendency to normalize the extraordinary, to colonize the exotic. For them, Merrick was both an ideal object of charity and a challenge to their most basic assumptions about humanity. In our own time, Merrick is cast as the ultimate outsider. If it was culturally convenient for the Victorians to patronize Merrick and congratulate his benefactors, contemporary cultural biases
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The ‘Real’ Elephant Man: A Look at the Life of Joseph Merrick
The play ran for over performances in New York, an impressive number for a nonmusical. Joseph Merrick was photographed for a carte de visite circa Photo: Wikicommons. In later years, his left and right arms began to grow significant differences and both feet were enlarged. To add to his troubles, during his childhood he fell and suffered an injury to his hip which left him permanently lame. Despite his physical appearance, the boy and his mother were close.
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The London Hospital Medical College, where the skeleton is on display, politely turned down Jackson's initial offer last month to buy the remains of John Merrick, a hideously deformed man with a rare disease who died in and inspired the hit movie 'Elephant Man. Merrick's remains,' Dileo said. Merrick, whose life inspired a movie that was nominated for eight Oscars, became a darling of London society after a sympathetic doctor rescued him from a life in freak shows. Dileo said Jackson has acquired an 'absorbing interest' in Merrick 'purely based on his awareness of the ethical, medical and historical significance of the 'Elephant Man. The multi-millionaire singer 'has no exploitative intentions' for the remains, Dileo said, but has become a 'student of Merrick, and has visited the hospital in London twice with great curiosity. The reclusive Jackson recently purchased an oxygen chamber to help him maintain hisyouthful looks.
Posted by Johnny Wright. One of the "addictions" that was attributed to the late Michael Jackson was shopping. In the famous Martin Bashir interview he is shown going through a shop in Vegas spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on kitschy junk. However, Jacko couldn't buy Joseph John Merrick's skeleton. The reports were admittedly dubious. To no avail.