Till death do us part

Dalrymple’s new BMJ column (subscription required), on the suicide of uncelebrated writer Charles Christian Wertenbaker, begins with this point:

Perhaps the greatest, because unintended, tribute to the triumph of modern medicine is the number of detailed literary accounts now published of illness experienced by patients or witnessed by their relatives: for writers choose as subject matter what strikes them as out of the ordinary or worthy of note. Where illness rather than health is quotidian, therefore, accounts of it will not be frequent. Only where good health is assumed to be normal, the default setting of the human frame, as it were, will the experience of illness be thought worth writing about.

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