Tag Archives: Summer 2013

Medical mysteries and detective doctors: metaphors of medicine

Roslyn Weaver Sydney, Australia   Most classical detective novels start out with a community in a state of stable order. Soon a crime (usually a murder) occurs, which the police are unable to clear up. The insoluble crime acts as a destabilizing event, because the system of norms and rules regulating life in the community […]

Hunters

Nam Nguyen Palo Alto, California, United States     I led her well into the center of the Russian Market, holding her hand behind me so that I could navigate the two of us around curious eyes. I was careful to stay in the dark, aware that the market had not yet been entirely vacated. […]

Pushing back at perceptions of epilepsy: the interplay between medicine and literature in three 19th-century British novels

Laura Fitzpatrick New York, United States   If I wished to show a student the difficulties of getting at truth from medical experience, I would give him the history of epilepsy to read. —Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1891.1 As the nineteenth century dawned, the average Briton still understood epilepsy much in the way his ancient Greek […]

Sylvia Plath: the tortured artist?

Kathleen Coggshall San Francisco, California, United States   The image of a chain-smoking, booze-addled writer is a common one, occurring so frequently in modern culture that one begins to wonder if depressed people find solace in creative endeavors, or if the soul-searching process of crafting a sonnet or composing a musical piece puts one at […]

Dr. Blockhead’s victory: up there, down here

Angela Belli Queens, New York, United States   The iconic image of the prizefighter raising his hands above his head in a gesture of victory is given life in Flannery O’Connor’s The Enduring Chill.1 He appears not as a heavyweight champion of the world but as a country doctor. The main character in the story […]

One woman’s journey for a tuberculosis cure

Terri Sinnott Chicago, Illinois, USA   Edmund and Theresa Brouillette c. 1900, Sinnott Family Collection “By 1900 . . . one-third of the new-comers to Colorado had come in search of health benefits.”1 My great-grandmother Theresa Brouillette became the “one in three” on October 31, 1902 when she boarded the train in Vincennes, Indiana to […]

The real Monte Cristo

Général Alexandre Dumas, XIXesiècle Olivier Pichat Musée Alexandre Dumas, Villers-Cotterëts The father of Alexandre Dumas (Père), famous author of The Count of Monte Cristo and of The Three Musketeers, was the son of a French nobleman and a black Caribbean slave. During the turmoil of the French Revolution, Alex Dumas, for that was the name […]

Hubris syndrome – a moment in history?

Lord David Owen has written extensively about politicians and heads of state who became insufferable from being intoxicated by the power of their office. He called this aberration from gentlemanly behavior the hubris syndrome, an acquired personality disorder that most often went away after they left office. Hubris has come down to us from the […]

The mystical prophet and his Bride of Christ

Hansjörg Rothe Austria and Klinikum Coburg, Germany   Sabbatai Zvi (1626-1676), as sketched in 1666 by an eye witness.  From Thomas Coenen, “Ydele Verwachtinge der Joden…” Amsterdam, 1669. In 1648, the year when the exhausted European powers at last ended the Thirty Years’ War, the Orthodox Ukrainian peasants rose against their Catholic Polish overlords and […]

Madness at the Opera

  Joan Sutherland in Lucia di Lammermoor It is ironic and tragic that Gaetano Donizetti, author of the most famous mad scenes in the history of opera, should himself have died in a state of utter madness from what has been described “as the most terrible of all brain diseases”.1 In two of his operas, […]