cover image Kore: On Sickness, the Sick, and the Search for the Soul of Medicine

Kore: On Sickness, the Sick, and the Search for the Soul of Medicine

Andrzei Szczeklik, trans. from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Counterpoint, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61902-019-1

No medical experience necessary: readers need only approach with a love of the human body and an understanding of how it relates to emotion and story. Carrying on a tradition of physician-writers, Dr. Szczeklik (Catharsis: On the Art of Medicine), at one time or another, has written works of poetry, history, philosophy, biology, and theology. He begins by diagnosing the woman in the Raphael painting La Fornarina with breast cancer, going on to explore the history of medicine and question distinctions between ancient theories and modern technology. Finding life defined by NASA and death by medicine, he listens closely when the Polish poet and Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, nearing his life's end, says: "A new book absolutely has to be written about dying and death." In a rare unambiguous moment, Szczeklik firmly pronounces that doctors need not always tell patients the truth. Otherwise, his fluid stream of consciousness takes precedence over definitive statements and clearly structured chapters, at one point skipping from Greek myths to Norman invasions to Terri Schiavo in just a few particularly memorable pages. Readers may find it difficult to keep up, but few are likely to forget this book. (Nov.)