Swift, Pope and the Doctors

Medicine and Writing in the Early Eighteenth Century

This book explores the impacts, particularly on their writing, of the serious illnesses of Swift and Pope, alongside their respective understandings of health issues and within their period context.
Both Swift and Pope spent most of their lives suffering from serious illness, Ménière’s Disease (Swift) and Pott’s Disease (Pope). This was at a time when medical understanding of these conditions was minimal. This book examines the effects of illness on each writer’s relations with doctors, treatment, and medicine more widely, and how far and in what ways their own experiences affected their writing. The book explains the contemporary medical context and subsequent specialist knowledge of the illnesses, and places each alongside both writers’ attempts to come to terms with their suffering, not least with respect to the different forms and styles of their works. Each writer’s extensive correspondence is drawn on, as well as a range of texts.

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Allan Ingram is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Northumbria, specialising in literature and culture of the eighteenth century. He has worked on James Boswell, on satire, on insanity and language, on depression, on disease and on medicine, the last three as part of major Leverhulme Trust research projects.
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