Hardy the Physician: Medical Aspects of the Wessex Tradition by T. Fincham

By T. Fincham

Was once Thomas Hardy clinically depressed or simply syphilitic? was once Egdon Heath imbued with melancholic vapours? And does this clarify why lots of his characters suffered from melancholy, took their very own lives or constructed homicidal developments? This publication via a rural GP explores those and plenty of different clinical concerns in Hardy's lifestyles and works.

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Extra info for Hardy the Physician: Medical Aspects of the Wessex Tradition

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This strange ritual was alleged to have 32 Hardy the Physician had pre-historic origins as a ‘means of preserving the heart from the flames’ and as such might well have appealed to Hardy – as a source of ironic humour, if nothing else. But to return for the moment to 1880/1, Sir Henry, ‘all that was eminent in European surgery’ (WB 57), does not seem to have considered that Hardy had a bladder stone. In Clinical Lectures, Lecture XI is entitled ‘Stone In The Bladder’. Thompson starts his lecture by stating the stone is most common from the age of ‘about fifty-five to seventy-five’ and that ‘the most rare period is that of middle age’ (Thompson 1879: 135); Hardy was 40 when he developed this illness.

A Sunday Morning Tragedy’, CP 205) and despite the fact that demographic studies reveal a steady decline in the birth rate from the census of 1861 onwards (Mason 1994: 53). Most revealingly, these studies show the highest decline in fertility to be amongst medical families. Despite evidence of the widespread availability of contraception during Hardy’s lifetime, it plays no part in his Obsextrics 19 fiction. When Sue informs Young Father Time that ‘There is going to be another baby’, he jumps up wildly and bursts out weeping: How ever could you, mother, be so wicked and cruel as this, when you needn’t have done it till we was better off, and father well!

The medical profession could not cope with this degree of frankness about a problem, which was of major – and often life-threatening – importance to much of the population, so the General Medical Council prosecuted Dr Allbutt. At a disciplinary hearing in November 1887, the full Council of 26 eminent men resolved that: (a) He had published, and publicly caused to be sold a work entitled The Wife’s Handbook in London and elsewhere, at so Obsextrics 21 low a price as to bring the work within the reach of the youth of both sexes to the detriment of public morals.

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