Hong Kong Med J 1998;4:77-88 | Number 1, March 1998
The healing hand in literature: Shakespeare and surgery
Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, 30 Gascoigne Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong
The interplay between surgery and dramatic literature in the plays of Shakespeare is reviewed. This review attempts to explore medical references in Shakespeare's works and to analyse the medical and social background of his time. Caution should be taken in interpreting Shakespeare's works through a modern medical view; diseases and their therapy are used metaphorically as a means to an end in the Bard's masterly hands. Shakespeare's medical knowledge may be accounted for by his avid reading of contemporary medical texts, from primary or secondary sources; an astute sense of observation of London's medical practitioners-bona fide or otherwise-and their activities and patients; and a medical connection by way of his son-in-law, Dr John Hall. It should be remembered that nothing in Nature stands alone; but every art and science has a relation to some other art or science, that it requires us to have a knowledge of those others, as this connexion takes place, to enable us to become perfect in that which engages our particular attention. John Hunter (1728-93)
Key words: History of medicine, ancient; History of medicine, medieval; History of medicine, 16th cent.; History of medicine, 17th cent.; History of Medicine, 18th cent.; Medicine in literature
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