Medical Humanism in the Poetry of Raymond Carver

Journal of Medical Humanities 27 (1):39-55 (2006)

There is an analogy between a scientific approach to medicine in which the patient ultimately becomes an object of study rather than a whole person, and a post/modern aesthetic in literature in which the subject has little or no agency in a chaotic linguistic universe. Raymond Carver died of cancer in 1988, and in both his pre- and post-diagnostic poetry there is humanistic lyricism that contributes to re-establishing empathic bonds between readers and characters, and to re-humanizing the patient as a whole person in the context of contemporary health institutions. Close readings of poems with descriptions of the autopsy room and of patient-doctor relations bring out the medical humanism in Carver's verse
Keywords Raymond Carver  poetry  medical humanism  literature and medicine  metapathography  cancer  autopsy  dehumanization  empathy
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DOI 10.1007/s10912-005-9002-5
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