Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Samuel Johnson

  • Noah Webster’s war on words

    JMS PearceHull, England “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” When Claudius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (III.3) speaks this line, he reminds us of the singular importance of the use of words, and hence the need, even for medical writers, to refer continually to fine dictionaries. Noah Webster…

  • Samuel Johnson: “The great convulsionary”

    JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom Samuel Johnson. Portrait by Joshua Reynolds, 1772. Via Wikimedia. Public domain.   This paper reproduces in an abridged form an earlier article by its author1 appraising the evidence that Samuel Johnson suffered from Tourette’s syndrome. Several authors have commented on the many eccentricities of Dr. Samuel Johnson (Fig 1).2…

  • 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…

  • Gouty quotes

    JMS Pearce Hull, England The recent reproduction of G. Cruikshank’s A self-indulgent man afflicted with gout by a demon burning his foot reminded me of many memorable remarks made by sages of various disciplines (several themselves victims of gout) on the subject. That the excruciating pain of gout (Figs 1 and 2) provokes mirth and ribald…

  • Winston Churchill’s Illnesses

    Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover: Winston Churchill’s Illnesses by A. Vale and J. Scadding. Winston Churchill was one of the most important political figures of the twentieth century. As such, it is not surprising that he has been the subject of many biographies that have chronicled his life and many achievements, most…

  • Macdonald Critchley

    JMS Pearce East Yorks, England   Fig 1. Macdonald Critchley by Norman Hepple. Credit: National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, UCLH Arts. Source Macdonald Critchley was a neurologist of elegance and sophistication.1 He was pre-eminently a clinical investigator of disorders of higher mental functions, especially those relating to language. He was the author of many…

  • Doctor Johnson and his ailments

    Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. c. 1770. Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – The National Library of Wales. Public domain. Samuel Johnson, one of the greatest English literary figures of all time, is remembered more for what he said than for what he wrote. Other writers may have been more successful or more profound, but none had as great…

  • Literatim: Essays at the intersections of medicine and culture

    Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, UK   Cover of Literatim: Essays at the Intersections of Medicine and Culture In this interesting collection, medical historian Howard Markel has brought together his previously published essays from the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, and the PBS Newsletter into one volume. The collection of…

  • The legacy and maladies of Jonathan Swift

    JMS Pearce England, UK   Fig 1. Jonathan Swift Jonathan Swift (Fig 1.) is best known for his popular Lemuel Gulliver’s: Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World published in 1726. (Fig 2.) Exciting adventures combine with satirical metaphors that parodied contemporary customs and politics. Lemuel Gulliver, the narrator, begins as a modern man…