Now available in paperback, this book delves into the history behind the glamorous baths and spas of Europe and reveals the hidden past of alternate treatments.
From Romans to royalty and hypochondriacs to holiday-makers, natural water spas have been a common feature in society since the first century. Even today, we periodically abandon the cities to "take the waters."
In their heyday, Europe's spas were the main meeting places for aristocracy, politicians, and cultural elites. They were the centers of political and diplomatic intrigue, and were fertile sources of artistic, literary, and musical inspiration. The spas epitomized style and were renowned for their cosmopolitan atmosphere in a glittering whirl of balls, gambling, and affairs, as much as for their healing waters.
Health, Hedonism & Hypochondria reveals the hidden histories of traditional spas of Europe, including such well-known resorts as the original Spa in Belgium; Bath, Buxton & Harrogate in Britain; Baden-Baden & Bad Ems in Germany; Vichy & Aix-les-Bains in France; Bad Ragaz in Switzerland; Bad Ischl & Baden bei Wien in Austria and Karlovy Vary & Mariánské Lázne in the Czech Republic. At once luxurious sanctuaries of relaxation and resorts of the upper classes, they were also the haunts of melancholics, scoundrels, and those seeking escape and excitement.
About the Author
Ian Bradley is Emeritus Professor of Cultural and Spiritual History at the University of St Andrews and a prolific author and broadcaster.
“Here is a book to rekindle your belief in all that is inventive, beautiful, eccentric and fascinating about the world – to flush a bit of joy back into your veins. And god, it's funny... Bradley has a gift for wrestling the most joyous morsels from his sources... Woven into this glorious, exhilarating history are hundreds of examples of the literature inspired by spas.” —The Sunday Telegraph
“... a fascinating picture of the construction of these shrines to wellness - and of a new quasi-religion.” —Financial Times
“The originality of Ian Bradley's book, meanwhile, lies in his extensive exploration of European spas. [...] His first-hand knowledge of many reveals itself in a wealth of observations and anecdotes.” —Times Literary Supplement
“Plenty of shenanigans are recorded by the vigilant Ian Bradley... His new illustrated book is a labour of love - partly a history, partly a record of a lifelong scholarly hobby... While this book will be received as a scholarly contribution to the
literature, it is also great fun: how many other titles can you think of containing five initial aitches? Bradley is a lively and informative guide... One emerges from this book refreshed, as from a multi-angled shower of warm water.” —Church Times
“This book's subtitle is its real selling point. And as Ian Bradley makes clear in his highly entertaining prose, there was much reason to keep the history hidden …” —Airmail
“The book culminates with Bradley's personal experience of treatments exemplifying the contrasting extremes of punishment and pampering... His writing style is engaging and the book contains many entertaining vignettes without losing its more serious treatment of the subject... Bradley provides a useful account of the historic importance of the traditional spas aimed at the general reader.” —The British Society for the History of Medicine
“Bradley's "sparring" with history not only delivers a fascinating and informative account of the many aspects of spas, but also provides a framework for an historical and cultural understanding of contemporary wellbeing.” —Canberra Times