Boswell's Clap and Other Essays: Medical Analyses of by William B. Ober

By William B. Ober

During this “cock to Aesculapius,” a distin­guished pathologist exhibits how uncomplicated scientific analyses will be utilized centu­ries later to reconstruct the scene and as­sign a extra possible reason behind incapacity or death. The ten essays chosen for this quantity diversity from an research of Boswell’s repeated an infection with gonorrhea to a serious exam of Plato’s account of Socrates’ demise within the Phaedo, topics either historical and glossy. different essays comprise reports of the illnesses of 2 clinical doctors—William Carlos Wil­liams and Chekhov—and the disabili­ties of Swinburne, Lawrence, Rochester, Shadwell, Keats, Collins, Cooper, and Smart. Documenting a wealth of actual and mental signs that undergo at once upon the writer’s work—“when there's a clinical question,” Dr. Ober writes, “consult a doctor”—Dr. Ober diagnoses Swinburne’s masochism and penchant for writing flagellatory verse and facetiae because the mixed result of anoxic mind harm at beginning, sexual im­potence, and the publicity to flagellation at public institution. D. H. Lawrence’s “dirty words,” he unearths, stemmed from Lawrence’s mental wishes. Law­rence wrote girl Chatterley’s Lover whereas tuberculosis was once weakening him physi­cally, and the mix of his re­pressed gay traits and sexual impotence distorted his view of sexual family members. Rochester’s bisexuality and “double existence” have been on the root of his event, celebrated in his poetry, of untimely ejaculation, Dr. Ober exhibits. Dr. Ober additionally shatters legends by way of proving that Shadwell didn't die of self-administered laudanum and that Soc­rates’ dying was once now not pronounced safely through Plato. A pathologist by means of education and prac­tice, extra in particular a histopatholo­gist, Dr. Ober has spent so much of his existence attempting to diagnose illnesses by way of searching through a microscope at items of tissue faraway from the human physique by way of biopsy, at surgical procedure or post-mortem. via employing clinical analyses, and proof from different disciplines besides, Dr. Ober scru­tinizes chosen literary topics and brings to their mind-body difficulties new and infrequently dazzling interpretations.

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No man searches the literature unaided, and I have had the advantage of being in close proximity to many fine libraries. I must single out for special mention the Library of the New York Academy of Medicine with its extensive historical collection and its two distinguished librarians, Gertrude L. Annan and Alfred N. Brandon, to say nothing of the many skilled and dedicated librarians on its staff. The reading room of the British Museum (now the British Library) has sheltered me on many occasions, and contrary to popular belief, its service has been prompt and perceptive.

8 (Apr. " 77, No. 2 (Feb. 1977), 25458. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic for permission to reprint "Swinburne's Masochism: Neuropathology and Psychopathology," 39, No. 6 (Nov. 1975), 500555. " 65, No. 1 (Mar. 1969), 4163. Annals of Internal Medicine for permission to reprint "Thomas Shadwell: His Exitus Revis'd," 74, No. 1 (Jan. 1971), 12630. Page 1 Chapter 1 Boswell's Clap The world will certainly receive with glee The slightest bit of history of Me. John Wolcot (Peter Pindar) James Boswell as a journalist and biographer is a valued friend; as a patient he is at first unfortunate and finally tragic.

If you are not rendered callous by a long course of disguised wickedness, I should think the consideration of your deceit and baseness, your corruption both of body and mind, would be a very severe punishment. Call not that a misfortune which is the consequence of your own unworthiness. I desire no mean evasions. I want no letters. Send the money sealed up. 18 This is one of the great "end of the affair" letters of all time. Boswell copied the text in full in his journal and subjoined this prim comment: "Am not I too vindictive?

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