Tag Archives: Literary Essays

Dr. AJ Cronin: Still persona non grata?

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Harry Fain, coal loader. Inland Steel Company, Wheelwright #1 & 2 Mines, Wheelwright, Floyd County, Kentucky. Russell Lee. September 1946. National Archives. Via Wikimedia. Public Domain. “I have written all I feel about the medical profession, its injustices, its hide-bound unscientific stubbornness . . . The horrors and inequities detailed […]

Dr. William Minor and the Oxford English Dictionary

JMS Pearce  Hull, England, UK   Fig 1. Johnson’s Dictionary [photo: author’s copy] After the first dictionary of English words (Robert Cawdrey’s A Table Alphabetical… 1604) many dictionaries aimed to provide typical spelling, meaning, and often pronunciation, etymology, synonyms, and quotations. A New English Dictionary was an important advance reflecting everyday language compiled by the […]

Knock, or The Triumph of Medicine

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Louis Jouvet and André Dalibert in Knock, by Guy Lefranc (1951) “The man who feels well is actually sick and doesn’t know it.” —Dr. Knock   Jules Romains (1885-1972), author of the play Knock, or the Triumph of Medicine, was a novelist, poet, essayist, playwright, and short story writer. He […]

Two odes to Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Lazaros C. Triarhou Thessalonica, Greece   (Left) Reproduction of the original Spanish version of the poem in the memory of Ramón y Cajal by “Rafael de Córdoba” (aka Marcos Rafael Blanco Belmonte) from the periodical Blanco y Negro, published in 1934. (Right) A handwritten ode to Ramón y Cajal by Manuel Laza Zerón, dated February […]

Franz Kafka, A Country Doctor, (and Bob Dylan)

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Elk Viewing Sleigh Ride – Thunder Bay Resort, Hillman MI. Photo by Joe Ross. Via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0 Certainly doctors are stupid, or rather, they’re not more stupid than other people but their pretensions are ridiculous; [but] you have to reckon with the fact that they become more and […]

Somerset Maugham

JMS Pearce  Hull, England   Fig 1. Somerset Maugham by Graham Sutherland, black chalk, pencil and gouache, 1953. NPG 5327 I have two professions, not one. Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress; when I get tired of one I spend the night with the other. -Anton Chekov, 1888 As a graduate […]

E.T.A. Hoffmann’s neurological disease

Nicolás Robles Badajoz, Spain   Figure 1. Hoffmann’s drawing of himself, riding on Tomcat Murr and fighting “Prussian bureaucracy.” From Klaus Günzel: Die deutschen Romantiker. Artemis, Zürich 1995, ISBN 3-7608-1119-1. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Ich bin das, was ich scheine, und scheine das nicht, was ich bin, mir selbst ein unerklärlich Rätsel, bin ich entzweit […]

“Of Mice and Men”: a differential diagnosis for Lennie Small

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Colin Waters stars as Lennie in Charleston Stage’s 2018 production of Of Mice and Men. Photo courtesy of Marybeth Clark. Source. In John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel Of Mice and Men,1 the two main characters work as itinerant laborers on farms and ranches in California during the Great Depression. Their only attachments […]

Gouty quotes

JMS Pearce  Hull, England   Fig. 1 A decrepit man screaming in pain from gout, rheumatism and catarrh; represented as three tormenting devils. Coloured etching by J. Cawse, 1809, after G.M. Woodward. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) The recent reproduction of G. Cruikshank’s A self-indulgent man afflicted with gout by a demon burning […]

The use of language in health and illness narratives

Mariella Scerri Victor Grech  Malta   Portrait of Virginia Woolf in 1902. By George Charles Beresford. Public Domain. Via Wikimedia. “While I was as busy as anyone on the sunny plain of life, I heard of you laid aside in the shadowy recess where our sunshine of hope and joy could never penetrate to you.” […]