Pox: Genius, Madness, and the Mysteries of Syphilis

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Basic Books, Jan 1, 2003 - Medical - 379 pages
2 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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Pox: genius, madness, and the mysteries of syphilis

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Independent scholar Hayden has written a fascinating account of the role that syphilis may have played in the lives of noted historical Western figures from Columbus to Hitler. Over the course of ... Read full review

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User Review  - maiadeb - LibraryThing

Intiguing title and content, just had to pick it up and read... 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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