Last week we posted about the history and science of tuberculosis to highlight the upcoming World TB Day program coming to the Central Library on March 24. This week, let’s take a dive into representations of tuberculosis in literature and movies.
If you like historical fiction at all, you’ve heard of the heroine who tragically died of consumption—or, in modern terms, tuberculosis. There are characters in Dostoyevsky’s novels Crime and Punishment and The Idiot who suffered from tuberculosis, and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain actually takes place in a TB sanitarium. The scathing novel The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, relates how Chicago’s meatpackers were exposed to the disease through their work, and The Constant Gardener by John Le Carré deals presciently with TB testing and drug resistance. Also, Northwest writer Betty McDonald’s memoir The Plague and I humorously relates her experiences fighting what was then a frightening disease. Continue reading “Tuberculosis in Novels and Film”