Medicine: Love Links & TB

The end was drawing near. Marguerite Gautier, propped up amid her tortured pillows, was feverishly wasting away with "consumption." To her lover Armand, from whom his stern father had parted her a year before, she wrote: "If we had lived together this year, I should not have died so soon."

This belief of Alexandre Dumas' Lady of the Camellias was shared by her vast public. For the 19th century, which made tuberculosis both romantic and fashionable, was sure that somehow it was inextricably connected with thwarted love and melancholia. Early 20th century medicine,...

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