Tag Archives: Books and Reviews

Black man, white coat

Yeji Lee Toronto, Canada There is a fine line between prejudice and experience, and it is a line that grows all the more important for someone who is a doctor. In his memoir, Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine, Dr. Damon Tweedy ushers his readers through his years […]

Saul Bellow’s Doctor Adler: the achieving medical father and his non-achieving son

Solomon Posen Sydney, Australia   “I’ve learned,” old Doctor Adler lectures his oversized, untidy and bankrupt son, “to keep my sympathy for the real ailments” (42). Saul Bellow’s 1956 novella Seize the Day, arguably his finest work, is the story of a prodigal son (Tommy Wilhelm) who returns to his father, craving love as well […]

Book Review: Alain de Botton’s The Pleasures and Sorrow of Work

Sima Barmania London, United Kingdom   Published by Penguin books, 2009 ISBN: 9780241143537 What do you suppose biscuit manufacturing and the healthcare profession have in common? Well, according to Alain de Botton they both attain a sense of meaning by increasing pleasure or decreasing the suffering of another human being, a necessary prerequisite for a […]

Moreau’s mysterious creatures

Shelley Co Harlem, New York, United States     The tale begins with a shipwrecked man who lands on a mysterious island filled with half human and half animal type creatures. From this, the novel seems a little ridiculous and even simplistic. But in actuality, H.G. Wells’ novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau, can be read […]

The truth in facts is a derelict ruin: forging a self through fiction

Sara Baker Athens, Georgia     Photography by Brendan DeBrincat In his June 2, 2014, New Yorker article Inheritance,1 Ian Parker explores the connection between British novelist Edward St. Aubyn’s early traumatic life and his fiction. When we think of healing through writing, we usually think first of memoir and then perhaps of lyric poetry. […]

North and South and the intersections of environment and health

Roslyn Weaver Sydney, Australia     Elizabeth Gaskell Portrait by George Richmond, 1851 “Why, Mr. Thornton! You’re cutting me very coolly, I must say. And how is Mrs. Thornton? Brave weather this! We doctors don’t like it, I can tell you!” “I beg your pardon, Dr. Donaldson. I really didn’t see you. My mother’s quite […]

Suffering and empathy in the stories of Anton Chekhov and their relevance to healthcare today

Peter McCann London Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) Throughout his life, Anton Chekhov was often faced with the reality of suffering in human existence. His family’s bankruptcy and life of poverty in Moscow influenced young Anton’s thoughts about suffering and degradation in society, and his brief period of medical practice in Moscow provided him with enough experience […]

Thomas Mann’s “The Magic Mountain”: about a whistling pneumothorax and pulmonary tuberculosis

 Peter Korsten  Göttingen, Germany   Thomas Mann, 1937 Photo by Carl van Vechten Originally intended as a novella, Thomas Mann’s (1875–1955) multilayered novel The Magic Mountain documents in fine detail the methods used to treat lung diseases and especially pulmonary tuberculosis at the beginning of the twentieth century. Mann’s protagonist, Hans Castorp, who intended to spend […]

Book review: creative arts in humane medicine

 Mary Ann McDermott Chicago, Illinois, United States McLean’s new book is for all those interested in healthcare and the arts. The book compiles programming descriptions, “how to” instructions, small research studies, personal memoirs, and short essays by medicine, nursing, and dentistry professionals as well as by patients, social service professionals, artists, students, and others! The […]

Doctors and illness in Boccaccio’s Decameron

Maria Sgouridou Greece   Introduction Giovanni Boccaccio was born in Tuscany in 1313, the illegitimate son of a merchant of Certaldo, who launched him on a commercial career hoping he would follow in his steps. Sent to Naples for that reason, he soon abandoned commerce and the study of canon law, and began instead to […]