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Article
September 1964

The Historic Shudder

Arch Intern Med. 1964;114(3):461-462. doi:10.1001/archinte.1964.03860090195025

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Abstract

"Out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer" (Judges V, 14)

Gleanings From the Commonplace Book of a Medical Reader

The phrase, "the historic shudder," is Gustave Flaubert's. By it he meant the sensation one gets when some event or condition of a past time is brought home to one with the vividness of present-day life. It is seldom to be found in formal history, and then only by the historian's resort to a recorded personal experience. Such records, however, crop up in all sorts of places, and notably in letters, diaries, and memoirs. The discovery of such gems is a justification for browsing, a disease to which I am much addicted, as the word "gleanings" at the masthead of these columns bears witness. Let me quote an instance of "the historic shudder" from my own experience.

In the early 30's a young man consulted me about

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