JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.
There has been so much discussion in recent years in the newspapers and magazines with regard to euthanasia, that is, the question of the ethical rights of the physician to shorten the lives of patients who are suffering from what he knows to be incurable disease, that it has evidently only been a question of time until some novelist would take the subject for the basic material for a work of fiction. It was scarcely to be expected, however, that so careful a writer as Mrs. Edith Wharton would make the experiment and work up as the central incident of one of her studies of modern society this problem of shortening life. Her recent book, “The Fruit of the Tree,” which has been appearing serially in one of the magazines for some time and is now published in book form, revolves around this question. If there has been any doubt as to the attitude of the public with regard to the euthanasia question it will be brushed away by the reception which the book is meeting from critics generally, for very few of them fail to condemn this feature of the novel.
Euthanasia as a Romantic Motive.. JAMA. 2007;298(17):2076. doi:10.1001/jama.298.17.2076