Literary Essays | Hektoen International

Narrative control and the monster within: empowering disability in Jane Eyre

Mary Vallo Glastonbury, CT (Winter 2018)   “Jane Eyre on Page and Screen 14: The Veil.” Linnet Moss. The author of the article credits Monro Orr (1921) for the image. In chapter twenty-five of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Jane tells Rochester that the night before, “a form emerged from the closet” in her room and tried on […]

Why ‘Nurse’ Grace Poole is the greatest puzzle in Jane Eyre

Sarah Wise City University, London, UK (Winter 2017)   Plate 5 (V), unnamed artist, illustration in Dr Alexander Morison’s Outlines of Lectures on Mental Diseases, 1826, purporting to show:‘Monomania With Pride, a female in whom, although a pauper, ideas of wealth and grandeur are predominant. She is liable to violent fits of fury when her delusions […]

Muthulakshmi Reddi: physician, activist, and social revolutionary

Sumana Vardhan Chicago, IL (Winter 2018)   “Muthulakshmi, the medical student.” India International Centre, V. Shanta, 16 Mar. 2012 Born in 1886 under British rule in Tamil Nadu, India, Muthulakshmi Reddi faced an era of gender inequalities and fated child marriage. Despite the social limitations of the time, Reddi’s parents encouraged her interest in learning, […]

Poe’s Consumptive Paradox

Gregory Rutecki Cleveland Clinic, Internal Medicine (Fall 2017)   Tuberculosis may have killed more people than any pathogen in history1  leaving an array of terrible stigmata whenever it extinguished life. The essential image of tuberculosis in the  eighteenth century was that of foul decay.2 Morgagni vividly described the road to a consumptive death as, “(she) […]

Walt Whitman: a difficult patient

Jack Coulehan Stony Brook, NY  (Fall 2017) On June 15, 1888, the following notice appeared in  the New York Times under the headline AGED POET SUFFERS RELAPSE: “Prof. William Osler, of the University of Pennsylvania, was summoned by telegraph this afternoon to go to Walt Whitman’s bedside. The aged poet had a relapse, and it […]

Patrick Branwell Brontë (1817-1848): A tale of aspiration and decline

JMS Pearce Department of Neurology, Hull Royal Infirmary (Summer 2017)   On the bleak, rocky, windswept Yorkshire moors is the famous Brontës’ parsonage of St Michael and All Angels’ Church, Haworth. Here the celebrated Brontë sisters wrote their varied poetry and tales of romance, repressed passions, and frustrated love. This year (2017) marks 200 years […]

The morbid poet: Gottfried Benn, the morgue and the mysterious postcard

Annette Tuffs Heidelberg, Germany (Spring 2017)   The poet Gottfried Benn in 1951 Drawing by Tobias Falberg “Worst of all: not to die in summer, when everything is bright and the earth is easy on the spade.” So wrote the German poet Gottfried Benn (1886 -1956), three years before his death, in the poem “What’s […]

Sir Roderick Glossop: Wodehouse’s “eminent loony doctor”

Paul Dakin North London, UK (Spring 2017)   Sir Roderick Glossop (right) and J Washburn Stoker appear in court following Jeeves’ intervention P.G. Wodehouse is one of the greatest comic authors of the twentieth century. He wrote nearly a hundred books containing a fascinating array of characters. Many inhabited the confined geography of 1920’s London […]

Love, cancer, and the caregiver’s faith of C.S. Lewis

Joshua D. Niforatos Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH (Spring 2017)   Poi se torno all’ eternal fontana. Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, Canto XXXI Author C.S. Lewis wears a bathrobe in his house. Photo by © Norman Parkinson C.S. Lewis, the medieval and Renaissance scholar of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, wrote prolifically on myriad topics and won international recognition […]

About face: from revulsion to compassion

Sylvia Karasu New York City, NY (Winter 2017)   L’antigrazioso, (“Anti-graceful”) by Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), demonstrating an artist’s abstract rendition of asymmetrical, deformed features.4 Skin Graft (Transplantation) (1924) by Otto Dix1 Winter, 1563 by Giuseppe Arcimboldo(1527-1593) demonstrating an artist’s rendition of grossly deformed features5   “I was too ugly to go to school,” writes Lucy Grealy […]