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The Body in the Library: A Literary…
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The Body in the Library: A Literary Anthology of Modern Medicine (udgave 2003)

af Iain Bamforth (Redaktør)

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The Body in the Library provides a nuanced and realistic picture of how medicine and society have abetted and thwarted each other ever since the lawyers behind the French Revolution banished the clergy and replaced them with doctors, priests of the body. Ranging from Charles Dickens to Oliver Sacks, Anton Chekhov to Raymond Queneau, Fanny Burney to Virginia Woolf, Miguel Torga to Guido Ceronetti, The Body in the Library is an anthology of poems, stories, journal entries, Socratic dialogue, table-talk, clinical vignettes, aphorisms, and excerpts written by doctor-writers themselves. Engaging and provocative, philosophical and instructive, intermittently funny and sometimes appalling, this anthology sets out to stimulate and entertain. With an acerbic introduction and witty contextual preface to each account, it will educate both patients and doctors curious to know more about the historical dimensions of medical practice. Armed with a first-hand experience of liberal medicine and knowledge of several languages, Iain Bamforth has scoured the literatures of Europe to provide a well-rounded and cross-cultural sense of what it means to be a doctor entering the twenty-first century.… (mere)
Medlem:jockmurray
Titel:The Body in the Library: A Literary Anthology of Modern Medicine
Forfattere:Iain Bamforth (Redaktør)
Info:Verso (2003), Edition: 1, 320 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
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Nøgleord:Ingen

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The Body in the Library: A Literary Anthology of Modern Medicine af Iain Bamforth

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I picked up this book on a whim. It was remaindered, poor thing, because of its vanishingly small target audience: those with an interest in the crossover between medicine and literature. I finally made my way through the 71 collected essays, novel snippets, and poems, and discovered a good 16 of them that were trully remarkable. Not a bad ratio for an anthology.

In particular I'll note the following:

Lytton Strachey's Florence Nightingale for showing me what heroism is. It's not her unfailing bedside manner. It's her ability to cut through red tape, stay up through the night writing to various health ministers, go out to market and purchase supplies when no one else would, and stand up to prideful doctors who refuse to ask for help. A remarkable woman!

Fanny Burney's Letter from 1812 which describes her breast cancer surgery prior to the discovery of anaesthesia.

Paul Valery's Socrates and his Physician for a charmingly light look at when the great philosopher must turn to another for wisdom.

Miguel Torga's Diary for a personal look at a career as a physician. He is both a poet and a doctor, and the tension between those two loves is evident in every page.

Virginia Woolf's Illness for making the argument that illness should have a greater role in literature. After all, does it not bring us the heights and depths of feeling that love, war, and philosophy do?

Mikhail Bulgakov's The Killer for his consummate story telling.

George Orwell's How the Poor Die for his personal account of recovering from Tuberculosis in a public hospital in France.

Bert Kaizer's My Father's Death for showing how our treatment of end-stage illness is not so different from the doctors who bled Byron to death in an effort to unclog his humors.

and finally Peter Goldsworthy's A Statistician to His Love for a dark satirical poem that is so brilliantly humorful.

I did have to pick through this book -- or rather, after reading its whole I found only about a quarter to my tastes -- but Bamforth did a remarkable job in collecting these pieces. I've never seen such attention paid to non-English speaking authors (primarily European but also Latin American), nor a collection that has both fictional and non-fictional accounts drawn together. He has everything from the monograph of the doctor who invented the stethoscope to letters or diaries written by writer-doctors or writer-patients, and fiction including doctors or illness, such as the marvellous description of Lydgate in George Elliot's Middlemarch. This is an imperfect anthology. In trying to please everyone, I'm afraid that each reader must pick through. Nonetheless, it was a fine read for anyone who is interested in medicine but demands good writing as well.
1 stem myfanwy | Oct 12, 2007 |
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Please distinguish between Iain Bamforth's The Body in the Library: A Literary History of Modern Medicine and Agatha Christie's 1942 novel, The Body in the Library. Thank you.
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The Body in the Library provides a nuanced and realistic picture of how medicine and society have abetted and thwarted each other ever since the lawyers behind the French Revolution banished the clergy and replaced them with doctors, priests of the body. Ranging from Charles Dickens to Oliver Sacks, Anton Chekhov to Raymond Queneau, Fanny Burney to Virginia Woolf, Miguel Torga to Guido Ceronetti, The Body in the Library is an anthology of poems, stories, journal entries, Socratic dialogue, table-talk, clinical vignettes, aphorisms, and excerpts written by doctor-writers themselves. Engaging and provocative, philosophical and instructive, intermittently funny and sometimes appalling, this anthology sets out to stimulate and entertain. With an acerbic introduction and witty contextual preface to each account, it will educate both patients and doctors curious to know more about the historical dimensions of medical practice. Armed with a first-hand experience of liberal medicine and knowledge of several languages, Iain Bamforth has scoured the literatures of Europe to provide a well-rounded and cross-cultural sense of what it means to be a doctor entering the twenty-first century.

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