What Did I Die Of?
By: J.B. Lyons
Medicine and literature are the unifying strands in this skilfully wrought tapestry of Irish biographical portraiture. It delineates the pioneering 18th-century Limerick surgeon Sylvester O’Halloran, his contemporary Oliver Goldsmith MD, Dublin’s Milton editor Edward Hill, and the polymath Sir William Wilde; the deaths respectively of his celebrated son, Oscar, Charles Stewart Parnell and J.M. Synge are anatomized, as are the lives of the forgotten scholar John Freeman Knott, the soldier-poet Tom Kettle and the northern Irish medievalist Helen Waddell. The volume concludes with James Joyce and Malcolm Lowry, unlikely but fascinating bedfellows, in a sympathetic study of alcoholism.
Erudite yet entertaining, this sparkling collection of essays by Dublin’s leading medical historian combines literature with science in a delightfully peripatetic excursion through Irish history.