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166 BOOK REVIEWS become more interesting to him than the practice of medicine, and Sherlock Holmes was already a lucrative property. Doyle continued to write occasional articles for medical journals until late in life, but it would be hard to argue that his contributions to medical science were very important. Far more interesting are the many references to medicine, doctors, and disease in his fiction. Rodin and Key catalogue these references exhaustively and credit Doyle with enlightened attitudes towards the diseases (not usually recognized as such before the twentieth century) of alcoholism and drug addiction. (Sherlock Holmes, as many readers will remember, injects morphine or cocaine whenever boredom strikes.) More significantly, perhaps, they point out that the very conception of Holmes as a character owes something to Doyle's experience of diagnosis. They doubt that Holmes's almost magical feats of deduction are as similar to the thought processes of diagnosticians as has sometimes been claimed, but they make it clear that had Doyle not been a doctor, Holmes would have been a rather different detective. As this discussion indicates, the authors are not entirely successful in their attempt to refocus attention from Sherlock Holmes to Conan Doyle's other interests. Doyle regretted that the Holmes stories had overshadowed his other writings, but it is not clear that posterity did him an injustice by ignoring most of his non-Holmesian work. Were it not for Holmes and Watson, Doyle would be forgotten today by doctors and general readers alike. Despite its authors' intentions, this book is valuable primarily for the light it sheds on the Sherlock Holmes stories, and to a lesser extent as a study of English medicine in the late nineteenth century. There are twenty-one illustrations. —Christopher Clausen The Pennsylvania State University D. J. Enright, ed., The Oxford Book of Death. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1983. xiii +351 pp. $19.95. A besetting problem for anyone trying to teach literature and medicine is making connections between the two fields without trivializing or oversimplifying either. One must not reduce Middlemarch, or even the Dr. Lydgate subplot, to a study of scientific idealism at odds with a practitioner's worldly need to prosper. On the other hand, one must not assume that reading "Cupping on the Sternum" confers a sufficient understanding of how that nineteenth-century medical remedy was used on the American frontier. Because doing justice to Book Reviews 167 one field without doing violence to the other is difficult, good or even acceptable anthologies of literature and medicine are scarce. The Oxford Book of Death, chosen and edited by the poet D. J. Enright, does not take specific aim at students and teachers of medical humanities—the book's potential audience is far wider. But in my view Enright's anthology is the finest existing collection of literary perspectives on a topic crucial to medicine. Humane, profound, piquant, The Oxford Book of Death offers rewarding insights to any reader and will do for its medical audience what many a literary specialist might prescribe: its extracts present diverse responses to the many-faced, universal experience and, at the same time, encourage further reading for a fuller flavor of the writers (and cultures—some selections are anonymous) sampled. For instance, what browser through the prose and verse collected in Enright's "Hereafters" section could read the eighteenth-century aphorism in haiku stanza Judging by pictures Hell looks more interesting Than the other place without wanting to know more of Japanese poetry? What physician could encounter the epitaph of Anthony Wedgwood, SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF CAPTAIN ANTHONY WEDGWOOD ACCIDENTALLY SHOT BY HIS GAMEKEEPER WHILST OUT SHOOTING "WELL DONE THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT," and remain immune to the fascination of language? Having praised The Oxford Book of Death, let me briefly describe it. Enright has arranged his quotations in fourteen topical sections: "Definitions," "Views and Attitudes," 'The Hour of Death," "Suicide ," "Mourning," "Graveyards and Funerals," "Resurrections and Immortalities," "Hereafters," "Revenants," "War, Plague, and Persecution ," "Love and Death," "Children," "Animals," and "Epitaphs , Requiems, and Last Words." Each section begins with a brief and thoughtful essay in which the editor reflects, as the reader will do, on the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6571
Print ISSN
0278-9671
Pages
pp. 166-168
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-13
Open Access
No
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