I hope all my American readers (which is probably most of them) had a wonderful Thanksgiving and have lots of leftovers to get them through the weekend!
Jeopardy! category: TEXTBOOKS (21-11-1996)
FJ! Clue: Dr. Henry Van Dyke Carter provided 363 drawings for this work first published in 1858
The gist: In 1996, it was even still best known as a book, not a TV show. Gray’s Anatomy (as opposed to ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”), in full Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body, was written by the eponymous British surgeon and anatomist, and first published when he was just 31 years old. Gray was something of a wunderkind – he entered medical training at 18, and became a Royal Society Fellow at 25. Although not preternaturally bright (although of course far from dim), his colleagues described him as an extremely methodical and determined worker, devoting long hours to his own studies of human dissection. He approached Dr. Carter, a well-known anatomical artist and dissectionist, with his idea for a comprehensive textbook on human anatomy, and Dr. Carter enthusiastically agreed. The two spent a year and a half performing and recording dissection after dissection, until the entire body had been meticulously documented, described, and drawn. After its publication, work began on a revised second edition, but Gray sadly died shortly thereafter, having contracted smallpox while caring for his sick nephew. Dozens of editions of the book have been published since then, most recently the 40th, released in September 2008. The 39th edition was the first to order its sections by region rather than by system – that is, by looking at all structures in a given part of the body before moving on to the next, rather than describing the entirety of each biological system (like the nervous, the circulatory, etc.) separately.
The clue: Two major hints are present in this clue, assuming you don’t know who Henry Van Dyke Carter is off the top of your head: first, the illustrator was a doctor, and second, the illustrations are important enough to the work that their mention should let you figure out the correct response. Still, Carter could have been a doctor of any number of things, not necessarily a medical doctor, and certainly there have been many textbooks for which illustration has been important. Certainly, then, this is a pretty tough clue, and only one of the day’s contestants got it right – the other two both guessed The McGuffey Reader, which leads me to suspect they just wrote down the first well-known textbook they could think of. And that’s not necessarily a bad strategy… except of course that it was wrong.
In Jeopardy!: If you need more evidence that Gray’s Anatomy is an influential book, here it is: its had no fewer than three of its very own Jeopardy! categories, besides being mentioned in six other regular and this FJ! clue, for a total of 22 in the J!Archive. The three categories and of the stand-alone clues consist of relatively straightforward anatomy clues, although one presents its clues as quotes from the text itself. The others are about the book itself rather than the subject matter. Three plus the one discussed here mention its illustrations explicitly. One of the two remaining clues describes it as a book about the human body, and the final one is actually about the Steven Soderbergh film of the same name about writer Spalding Grey. When the book comes up, it’s usually because you need to know about anatomy, but it’s going to be the correct response if the clue is looking for a book on the subject.