Tag Archives: Literary Essays

Esperanto and the babble of dreamers

Simon Wein Petach Tikvah, Israel   L.L. Zamenhof L.L. Zamenhof (1859–1917) was an ophthalmologist and philologist from Białystok, then in Russia, now Poland. In the 1880s, he created a new language called Esperanto. The word Esperanto comes from the Latin, spiro, which means “to breathe.” Spiro also means one who hopes. Thus, loosely translated, Esperanto […]

The Medical Inkling: R.E. Havard, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien

Sarah O’Dell Irvine, California, United States   R.E. Havard and C.S. Lewis at The Trout Inn, Oxford, circa 1950s. Private collection. Used with permission of the Havard Family.  In a smoky back corner of an Oxford pub and the book-filled rooms of Magdalen College, the celebrated writing group known as the “Inklings” gathered, debated, and laughed […]

Poets at the Craiglockhart War Hospital

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kindom   Wilfred Owen (left) and Siegfried Sassoon (right; source). In the First World War, the writer Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967) (Figs 1 and 2) received the Military Cross for bringing back wounded soldiers under heavy fire.1 He was admitted to the Craiglockhart War Hospital, Edinburgh in 1917,2,3 where he befriended […]

Greater than the sum of her parts: The journey of a medical student

Japjee Parmar Amritsar, Punjab, India   “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I […]

Blake’s autonomous newborn: Neonatal mortality in “Infant Joy” and “Infant Sorrow”

Zoya Gurm Detroit, Michigan, United States   Virgin and Child. Artwork by William Blake, 1825. Yale Center for British Art Paul Mellon Collection. Public domain.  William Blake (1757–1827) was an artist, poet, and progenitor of the Romantic era. Romanticism represents the artistic and intellectual movement responding to the Enlightenment, industrialization, and political revolutions of the […]

Ondine’s curse: You sleep, you die

Trisha Kesavan Tamil Nadu, India   Undine. Oil on canvas by John William Waterhouse, 1872. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. In the 16th century, philosopher Paracelsus wrote about undines as nymphs that gained souls by marrying humans.1 According to German mythology, Ondine or Undine was a water nymph (de la Motte Fouque’s version) who married a […]

The new pandemic

Maite Losarcos Navarra, Spain   Photo by Bruno Feitosa on Pexels. It is just another day. The traffic light is red as pedestrians cross the street before you, always in a hurry. At last, the light turns green, but just as you prepare to start the car, the world goes white. People shout, cars honk, […]

“No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money-changer”: Who said it first?

Robert Schell Brooklyn, New York   Biblical inspiration: Christ Driving the Money-Changers from the Temple (or The Purification of the Temple). El Greco, c. 1600, Frick Collection. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. In these days of rampant biomedical commercialization, the Bible-inspired admonition “No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money-changer” […]

Baudelaire’s spleen

Nicolas Roberto Robles Badajoz, Spain   Figure 1. Frontispiece of the 1857 proof of Les Fleurs du Mal, annotated by Charles Baudelaire. Gallica Digital Library. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Je suis comme le roi d’un pays pluvieux, Riche, mais impuissant, jeune et pourtant très-vieux, Qui, de ses précepteurs méprisant les courbettes, S’ennuie avec ses chiens […]

The Joys of Motherhood: The classic Nigerian novel

Oyenike Ilaka Albany, New York   Cover of The Joys of Motherhood, published in London, UK, by Allison & Busby in 1979.2 The Joys of Motherhood is a Nigerian novel written by Buchi Emecheta in 1979. Emecheta was a Nigerian woman from the Igbo tribe. Born in 1944, she spent her childhood in Lagos. At […]