Pale Faces: The Masks of Anemia

Pale Faces: The Masks of Anemia

by Charles L. Bardes
     
 

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Who would have thought that something so commonplace as iron deficiency would lead to prehistoric ochre, Egyptian amulets, Renaissance alchemy, Victorian projections of maidenhood, and the astrophysical end of everything?

Whether mild or deadly, anemia affects an essential body fluid: blood. In Pale Faces, Charles L. Bardes probes deeply into this

Overview

Who would have thought that something so commonplace as iron deficiency would lead to prehistoric ochre, Egyptian amulets, Renaissance alchemy, Victorian projections of maidenhood, and the astrophysical end of everything?

Whether mild or deadly, anemia affects an essential body fluid: blood. In Pale Faces, Charles L. Bardes probes deeply into this illness as metaphor by exploring the impact of both science and culture on its treatment across the ages. His innovative “life” of this condition ranges widely through history, mythology, literature and clinical practice to examine how our notions of specific medical conditions are often deeply rooted in language, symbolism and culture.

Delving into the annals of anemia and its treatment, he takes us on a fascinating journey back through the history of medicine—from the Greeks and ancient practices of bloodletting and magic up to the diagnostic rituals of a modern medical office. A scholar of the literary as well as the medical arts, Bardes gives us a beautifully written, free-ranging text, resonant with poetic associations yet anchored in concrete clinical experience.

As a practicing physician, Bardes is also able to draw upon his direct experience with patients to demystify the doctor/patient relationship. Through detailed descriptions of the diagnostic processes involved in blood related conditions, as well as the particular understanding of the inner workings of the human body provided by modern medical science, we are treated to the complex ways in which doctors think.

Charles L. Bardes, MD, is a practicing physician who teaches extensively at Weill Cornell Medical College, where he directs the Medicine Clerkship and serves as Associate Dean. He is the author of Essential Skills in Clinical Medicine, a guide for students and interns, and Pale Faces: The Masks of Anemia, the first book in the Bellevue Literary Press Pathographies series. He has been the Bernard DeVoto Fellow in Nonfiction at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and his essays have appeared in numerous journals, including Agni. He lives in New York.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Pale, pallid, wan: when we say that someone looks anemic, the implication is less about iron-poor blood than about the presence of some underlying illness. Launching Bellevue's Pathography series, Bardes (associate dean at Weill Cornell Medical College) examines how anemia and other diseases of the blood have been perceived and understood in various places and times. Anemia ("without blood") is a deficiency in hemoglobin, the molecule within red blood cells that shuttles oxygen around the body. But, Bardes asks, what constitutes a deficiency? How does a doctor interpret whether the patient is "really sick"? The author traces the concept of ruddiness and its association with health through the centuries and devotes an especially interesting chapter to the mysterious "green sickness," which, though well known in Shakespeare's time, seems to have disappeared by the early 20th century. Bardes casts a wide net over science, literature and philosophy in this marvelously literate study, although occasional extended flights of word play might have been reined in a bit. Readers with a passion for multidisciplinary and well-crafted writing will find pleasure here. (June)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781934137918
Publisher:
Bellevue Literary Press
Publication date:
04/22/2014
Series:
Bellevue Literary Press Pathographies
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
192
File size:
770 KB

Meet the Author

Charles L. Bardes, MD, is a practicing physician who teaches extensively at Weill Cornell Medical College, where he directs the Medicine Clerkship and serves as Associate Dean. He is the author of Essential Skills in Clinical Medicine, a guide for students and interns, and Pale Faces: The Masks of Anemia, the first book in the Bellevue Literary Press Pathographies series. He has been the Bernard DeVoto Fellow in Nonfiction at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and his essays have appeared in numerous journals, including Agni. He lives in New York.

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