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.
This anthology is clearly a labor of love with its 71 different excerpts
and selections of poems, essays, stories, plays, aphorisms, and diaries by
physicians, patients, and other authors. Its physician-editor lives in Strasbourg
and has worked across Europe and Australia. His essays, reviews, and books
of poetry have been widely published.
The title, an allusion to classic detective stories, also encompasses
writings about the human body, including anatomical treatises. An erudite
and witty essay introduces the study of the body in medical history, beginning
with the publication in 1543 of Vesalius' anatomical atlas On the Structure of the Human Body. The author discusses the early
"morbid anatomy's hunger for corpses and the work of the executioner" and
the later emergence of serious physical examination during the Victorian era.
In the present age of technological advances, the bedside examination of the
body has been supplemented by technical medicine and analytic computer technology.
Nevertheless, argues the editor, we should not "lose touch with ourselves
as embodied beings, with the very corporeal source of our individuation."
Mathiasen H, Alpert JS. Medicine, Literature. JAMA. 2004;292(4):507-508. doi:10.1001/jama.292.4.507