Pox: Genius, Madness, and the Mysteries of Syphilis

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Basic Books, Jan 1, 2003 - Medical - 379 pages
19 Reviews
Was Beethoven experiencing syphilitic euphoria when he composed "Ode to Joy"? Did van Gogh paint "Crows Over the Wheatfield" in a fit of diseased madness right before he shot himself? Was syphilis a stowaway on Columbus's return voyage to Europe? The answers to these provocative questions are likely "yes," claims Deborah Hayden in this riveting investigation of the effects of the "Pox" on the lives and works of world figures from the fifteenth through the twentieth centuries. Writing with remarkable insight and narrative flair, Hayden argues that biographers and historians have vastly underestimated the influence of what Thomas Mann called "this exhilarating yet wasting disease." Shrouded in secrecy, syphilis was accompanied by wild euphoria and suicidal depression, megalomania and paranoia, profoundly affecting sufferers' worldview, their sexual behavior and personality, and, of course, their art. Deeply informed and courageously argued, Pox has already been heralded as a major contribution to our understanding of genius, madness, and creativity.

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Review: Pox: Genius, Madness, And The Mysteries Of Syphilis

User Review  - Livia - Goodreads

Just okay; the tone and narrative style was better suited to a scholarly article. Not that the writing was bad, but the author wrote as though the reader was already an expert on the historical ... Read full review

Review: Pox: Genius, Madness, And The Mysteries Of Syphilis

User Review  - J Eseltine - Goodreads

Fascinating - interesting to consider the impact this disease has had on the history of the world; terrible suffering physically and mentally, not to mention the social stigma related to this epidemic condition. Read full review

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About the author (2003)

DEBORAH HAYDEN, an independent scholar and marketing executive, has lectured on syphilis and creativity, most recently at UCSF Medical School, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Bay Area History of Medicine Society. She lives in Mill Valley, California.

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