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TB, infertility may have affected Orwell

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BOSTON, Oct 19, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- A Boston scientist says George Orwell, author of such works as "Animal Farm" and "1984", may have been influenced by tuberculosis and infertility.

Dr. John Ross of Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston says Orwell suffered multiple respiratory ailments as a child. As a young man, he had several episodes of bacterial pneumonia, and also contracted dengue fever during his time in Burma.

Then Orwell developed bronchiectasis, a condition characterized by perpetually dilated bronchi and fits of coughing.

In 1938, Orwell went to a sanatorium because he was coughing up blood and was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Eight years later, Orwell's health worsened further while he worked on the first draft of "1984". Fever, weight loss, and night sweats sent him to the hospital, where he underwent "collapse therapy," a treatment designed to close dangerous cavities in the chests of tuberculosis patients.

Ross suspects Orwell's experience TB "may have influenced the depiction of the tortures of Winston Smith" in 1984.

Ross also believes Orwell's overall, lifelong poor health might have made him a better and more empathetic writer.

He details his theory in the Dec. 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online.


Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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