Like the Rainbow on the Waterfall: the Mystical Aura of Consumption

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tumblr_o1cz8uVjKd1ummtoro1_1280 John William Waterhouse, “Sleep and His Half Brother Death,” painted after both younger brothers of the painter died of tuberculosis

While the fourteenth century was ravaged by the Black Death, the nineteenth century belonged to tuberculosis, or the White Death, a disease much more insidious and widespread. John Keats died of it at the age of twenty-six, and so did many creative geniuses of the time, such as Friedrich Schiller, Novalis, Emily Brontë, Juliusz Slowacki (a Polish Romantic poet), Frederic Chopin, and countless others. Would Romanticism ever have happened with its eruption of creative spirit, had it not been for tuberculosis? In general, is creativity ever possible without the feeling of malady and dis-ease? In ancient Greece, the sick headed for an asclepeion, a healing temple to the god Asclepius, to find cure for their maladies. In the nineteenth century, it was in the sanatoria typically located in high mountains…

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