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September 16, 1998

Haitian Diethylene Glycol Disaster and Dante's Darkwood—Reply

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor


Copyright 1998 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1998

JAMA. 1998;280(11):965. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-280-11-jbk0916

In Reply.—My apologies to Dr Purdy, whose thinking was apparently confused, distracted, or muddled by the misimpression that, in the Editorial, I was literally referring to 13th-century Florence, Italy. My intention with the metaphor was simply to involve the reader in a deeply personal way in the anguish experienced by these Haitian parents when their trust in a medication used to relieve fever was betrayed.

I would take issue with Purdy's contention that we cannot apply Dante's work in a 20th-century context. We can learn much about ourselves by studying Dante and how he might be speaking to us in his unique and beautiful verse. The human condition of spiritual despair when confronting the evils of secular folly is not restricted to the 13th century but is universal in nature, which, in part, lends to the timelessness of a classic.

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