Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet
S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University
of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor; adviser
for new media, Robert Hogan, MD, San Diego.
In On Being Ill, an essay written between her
two most famous novels, Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf asserts that illness, a human condition
no less universal than "love and battle and jealousy," has seldom served as
a theme for the literary imagination. Much has changed in the 73 years since
she made this claim. The human body in pain has become a legitimate and even
trendy topic for imaginative and scholarly discourse. A distinct literary
genre called pathography has emerged. The academic discipline of medical humanities
has arisen and currently flourishes. Contemporary doctoral students of British
literature are far more likely to study Victorian representations or constructions
of illness than they are to assess the works of Virginia Woolf's eminent father
Leslie Stephen—or even those of Tennyson, Browning, or Arnold.
Graham PW. Illness. JAMA. 2003;289(9):1170-1171. doi:10.1001/jama.289.9.1170