Tag Archives: Literary Essays

New opioid epidemic: another long day’s journey

Carol Levine New York, New York, United States (Spring 2018)   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 […]

George Gordon Lord Byron and his limp

JMS Pearce (Spring 2018)   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 […]

Alabama and the healing of memories

Jack Coulehan  Stony Brook, NY (Fall 2017)   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 […]

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 […]

Hawthorne’s ‘The Birthmark:’ a failure to find a perfect future in an imperfect present

Sylvia R. Karasu New York City, NY (Winter 2017)   In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Birthmark, 1 Aylmer, “a man of science” leaves the somber, factory-like atmosphere of his laboratory to marry the beautiful Georgiana.  Aylmer “had devoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned from them by any secondary passion,” and […]

The doctor in literature: the abortion and the abortionist

Solomon Posen Sydney, Australia (Fall 2011) “I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art.”1 “It’s an awfully simple operation.”2   The Doctor and His Patient By Jan Steen, Dutch (1626-1679) Oil on canvas, 76 x 64 cm Rijksmuseum, […]

Tobias Smollett, MD: his medical life and experiences

Martin Duke Mystic, Connecticut, United States (Spring 2016) Every generation seems to produce its share of physicians and surgeons who are remembered for their literary accomplishments—Avicenna and Maimonides in the middle ages, Rabelais during the French Renaissance, Thomas Browne in the 17th century and Keats and Goldsmith in the 18th century.  Anton Chekhov, Arthur Conan […]