The Life and Work of Semmelweiss: A Fictional Biography
Louis-Ferdinand Celine (1894-1961) is best known for his early novels "Journey to the End of the Night" (1932)--which Charles Bukowski described as the greatest novel of the past 2,000 years--and "Death on the Installment Plan" (1936), but this delirious, fanatical "biography" predates them both. The astounding yet true story of the life of Ignacz Semmelweis provided Celine with a narrative whose appalling events and bizarre twists would have lain beyond credibility in a work of pure fiction. Semmelweis, now regarded as the father of antisepsis, was the first to diagnose correctly the cause of the staggering mortality rates in the lying-in hospital at Vienna. However, his colleagues rejected both his reasoning and his methods, thereby causing thousands of unnecessary deaths in maternity wards across Europe. This episode, one of the most infamous in the history of medicine, and its disastrous effects on Semmelweis himself, are the subject of Celine's semi-fictional evocation, one in which his violent descriptive genius is already apparent. The overriding theme of his later writing--a caustic despair verging on disgust for humanity--finds its first expression here, and yet he also reveals a more compassionate aspect to his character. "Semmelweis" was not published until 1936, after the novels that made Celine famous. "It is not every day we get a thesis such as Celine wrote on Semmelweis!" wrote Henry Miller of this volume.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
absurd ambassador of death Arneth asked Auscultation Austria Bartsch's clinic became began Birley brilliant Buda Budapest cadaveric calcium chloride Celine Celine's cervix childbirth corpse Corvisart course Danube day in Klein's death destiny dissection doctor doubt dream dying enthusiasm especially everything everywhere fact Faculty fatal followed frenzy futile genius hatred heart Hebra henceforth Hospital in Vienna hostility howled human Hungary Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis Klein's clinic Klein's wards Kolletschka later LEGION D'HONNEUR living longer lying-in Markusovszky master Maternity Hospital medical students medicine mind months morning mortality rate never night obstetricians obstetrics once one's Paris passions Pasteur patients perhaps Philippe Sollers physician Professor Klein puerperal fever puerperal infection reason recognised Rokitansky seemed Semmelweis wanted Semmelweis's discovery sentimental shadow silence simple Skoda knew soon soul street stupidity surgery talent thesis things tragic truth Venice Vienna General Hospital wished women wrote