Tag Archives: Literary Essays

New opioid epidemic: another long day’s journey

Carol Levine New York, New York, United States   Papaver somniferum  (opium poppy) D. G. J. M. Bois (1896-97) Edmund Tyrone, age 23 (August 1912, New London, Connecticut) “It’s pretty hard to take at times, having a dope fiend for a mother!” From Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill, Act III1   Alexis […]

George Gordon Lord Byron and his limp

JMS Pearce   Fig 1. Plaque of Byron erected in Westminster 4/10/2012 Few would dispute that Lord Byron (Fig 1) was both a poetic prodigy and a flamboyant rogue. George Gordon Noel, sixth Baron Byron (1788–1824), was born on 22 January 1788 at Holles Street, London, son of Captain John (“Mad Jack”) Byron and his […]

The Brothers Grimm under the knife

Valerie Gribben San Francisco, California, USA    The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm (1916). Magic-infused fairytales and modern medicine are intertwined as closely as the curving double helix of DNA. Do you doubt this? Well, let us start by acknowledging that the word “magic” has to a large degree regrettably lost its luster. “Magic” […]

The unsexed woman: depictions of women in 19th century fictional literature

Katherina Baranova London, Canada   A vicar asking a woman if she likes her new female doctor, the woman retorts that she prefers male doctors and finds them more gentle. Wood engraving after G. Du Maurier (1834-1896). The nineteenth century saw unprecedented changes in medicine, both technical and professional, as two parallel tales dealing with clubfoot […]

Joseph Roth, a visionary poet and victim of European history

Frank Wollheim Sweden   Joseph and Friedl in Berlin 1927. From Wilhelm von Sternberg. Joseph Roth, Kiepenheuer & Wirtsch,2009 Joseph Roth was born on 2 September 1894 in Brody, then a Galician town in the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy, bordering Russia. His parents married in 1892 and like two thirds of the 20,000 inhabitants were Hassidic Jews. […]

Madness, mind-doctors and Mrs Dalloway

Sabina Dosani London, England   London top-hat, from the period of Mrs Dalloway, similar to the hats made by Rezia and likely worn by the treating psychiatrist Mrs Dalloway, published in 1925 as the fourth novel by Virginia Woolf, is a life-in-a-day novel, almost certainly influenced by James Joyce’s Ulysses. In her 1919 essay Modern […]

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

Mary Vallo Glastonbury, CT, USA   “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 her […]

Poe’s Consumptive Paradox

Gregory Rutecki Cleveland, Ohio, USA   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) threw up pus […]

Alabama and the healing of memories

Jack Coulehan  Stony Brook, NY, USA   Hospital ward, circa 1969. T.S. Eliot’s poem “Burnt Norton” begins with the famous lines: “Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future, / And time future contained in time past.” 1My memories  are a part of my present experience. I recall clinical experiences […]

Walt Whitman: a difficult patient

Jack Coulehan Stony Brook, NY, USA   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 […]