“Let it be a consumption,” declares the protagonist of a 1903 short story by the writer I. L. Peretz, “at least something should happen.”1 The man behind these words is neither eccentric nor prone to hyperbole. Among the variety of characters populating Yiddish belles lettres at the turn of the century, he is decidedly typical. An aspiring writer, he is a recent urban transplant. He seesaws between moments of hopelessness and excitement, self-loathing and grandiose visions of his future. He is poor, hungry, and desperately seeking the attention of the Christian object of his affection. Even his cough is decidedly average, neither phlegmy nor blood-flecked. In fact, nothing about the scene portends any grave illness. Yet the brief cough emerges as a moment of potential action. “Zol zayn an optserung,” he charges. “Let it be a consumption.”
The present study takes its subject from this suggestive comment. What would have motivated a wish for a terminal disease? And what would such a diagnosis have afforded the ailing, secularizing, urbanizing Hebrew or Yiddish writer? The disease, of course, was far from physically ennobling. A diagnosis often accompanied brutal coughing fits, bloody hemorrhages, relentless fatigue, and physical emaciation. These symptoms sometimes manifested in alternating patterns of exacerbation and remission for decades.2 For Peretz’s protagonist, however, the prospect of consumption resonates as a moment of unseen possibilities. As he exclaims, “At least something should happen” (abi zol epes geshen). For him, a diagnosis of the disease signals an interruption in his mundane life and, perhaps, the start of something consequential.
Yet Peretz’s would-be patient does not come to experience consumption in his own medical history. His offhand remark is cut short by a highly evocative daydream. Readers quickly learn that it is the protagonist’s capacity to transform his childhood memories into allegorical psychodramas, rather than disease, that will fuel his creative energy. For many of Peretz’s own peers, in contrast, consumption was not simply an abstract idea that one could invoke during moments of existential crisis or routine boredom. Rather, for the Yiddish and Hebrew writers whose biographies and texts occupy this study, tuberculosis was part of their lived reality. The Yiddish humorist Sholem Aleichem was diagnosed in 1908 and spent the next six years recuperating at health resorts in Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. For over a decade, the Hebrew poet Raḥel Bluvshtein suffered from the disease in places as distant as Baku and Tel Aviv. From the 1910s to 1930s, a cadre of Yiddish writers, including Yehoash, H. Leivick, and Shea Tenenbaum, sought treatment in Denver, Colorado. The modernist Hebrew writer David Vogel took “the cure,” in turn, in the mountains of South Tyrol in the winters of 1925 and 1926.
At times, the disease incapacitated these writers and even prevented them from putting pen to paper. Yet the stories of their lives and work also demonstrate that tuberculosis provided a generative context for the development of their writing and the fashioning of their literary reputations. The words of Peretz’s protagonist will soon read less as a desperate outburst than as the prescient and measured expression of a future author. Intentionally or otherwise, his words convey a strategic understanding of the role that tuberculosis played in the lives, careers, and texts of the modern Jewish writer. More than a bacterial infection or multivalent metaphor, tuberculosis served as the condition of possibility for the ailing writer’s literary career. Keeping in mind the plea “abi zol epes geshen,” we will see that something did in fact happen following a terminal diagnosis. Tuberculosis would come to function as a critical mediator in the creation, dissemination, and reception of modern Yiddish and Hebrew writing.3 Addressing medical humanists and literary scholars alike, this study proposes a new analytical model for assessing the historical intersection of the infirmed body and the literary imagination. The cases of these modern Jewish writers offer a comparative paradigm for interpreting the association of illness and literary production across linguistic traditions. Indeed, constellating this series of disparate writers, texts, and geographies will reveal the counterintuitive role played by disease in the construction of a robust, transnational, and multilingual Jewish literary republic.
According to the World Health Organization’s Stop TB Partnership, nearly 1.3 million people worldwide died from tuberculosis in 2012. The majority of these victims lived and perished in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.4 An estimated 8.6 million people became infected by the disease in 2012 alone, and nearly 500,000 became infected with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in 2013.5 Rates of death and contagion, however, remain low in North America and Europe. Since the introduction of antibiotics in the mid-twentieth century, the number of infected Americans has dropped precipitously and stayed relatively stable. The result is that, save for the occasional media interest, tuberculosis does not receive extensive attention in American or European news outlets.6 The disease has remained generally absent from the dominant cultural discourses of disease, infection, and chronic illness in these geographic contexts.
In contrast, when Peretz sat down to write his story in 1903, tuberculosis loomed large in the public health imagination as well as the lived reality of populations across the United States, the Russian Empire, and Europe. In Warsaw, where he wrote his short story, two publications outlining the sources and threats of tuberculosis had appeared only a few years earlier. The works specifically addressed Jewish readerships in both the language of a growing minority, Hebrew, and the language of the masses, Yiddish. The first, Y. Ḥ. Zagorodski’s Our Lives and Longevity (Ḥayenu ve-’orekh yamenu), warned its readers in 1898 against the threat of consumption (razon).7 The author cautioned his audience that the wasting disease spread through contact with the sick as well as by inhaling the air of a patient’s room. Without mincing words, Zagorodski suggested that readers disinfect the clothing and personal belongings of a consumptive patient, refrain from drinking unboiled milk (to prevent contraction of bovine tuberculosis), and, if already coughing and feverish, seek respite in the high mountains or near the seacoast where fresh air was readily available.
Climatological therapies that advised patients to leave densely populated urban spaces or industrial centers were common in this period and soon became standard selling points of sanatoria and health clinics around the world.8 Shortly after Zagorodski’s text appeared, Tsukerman’s Folksbibliotek published Zayt gezund by the physician M. Gotlieb.9 The literal meaning of the title—“Be Healthy”—existed in an uncomfortable tension with the title’s more colloquial meaning—“Good-bye.” The work, a general introduction to various diseases, devoted the second of four volumes to the subject of Tuberculosis (Consumption)—in Yiddish, Sukhote (shvindzukht). After opening the volume with several biblical quotations and couching his health agenda within a Jewish textual frame, Gotlieb echoed Zagorodski in urging his readers to seek out living conditions with good airflow. He further suggested that they make sure to drink clean water and take care to nourish themselves heartily if they wanted to keep the disease at bay.
Similar health pamphlets and texts were common throughout Europe at the turn of the century. Across the continent and throughout the Russian Empire, tuberculosis claimed high exposure and mortality rates. In the United States, from 1900 to 1910, it ranked as one of the top ten leading causes of death.10 In Poland, as late as 1931, tuberculosis was measured as the leading cause of death nationwide.11 As David Barnes has written, “It is possible that a near-totality of the population of many large European cities in the nineteenth century technically ‘had’ tuberculosis—that is, would have tested positive for exposure to the tubercle bacillus.”12 Global awareness of the disease only continued to grow after the German physician and scientist Robert Koch presented his research at the Physiological Society of Berlin in the spring of 1882. There, Koch attested to the discovery of the tubercle bacillus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.13 Introducing his work to a scientific community already sympathetic to the germ theory of disease, his findings spread quickly.14 In 1909, the physician, writer, and advocate of Yiddish literature Gershn Levin published an article in the Warsaw daily Haynt titled “The Battle with the Consumption” (Der kamf mit der shvindzukht). Like many before him, Levin pointed to Koch’s discovery as the key moment in the history of the disease. Levin emphasized just how important the work “of the great scholar Koch” truly was.15 For the first time, tuberculosis had been rendered identifiable in the laboratory and, by extension, potentially treatable.
According to medical historians Jean and René Dubos, Koch’s discovery also marked a semantic shift from a discourse of “consumption” to one of “tuberculosis.” Prior to the discovery of the bacillus, diagnostic imprecision allowed a variety of so-called wasting diseases to be conflated as “consumption.” Following the discovery, they explain, “certain types of nonpulmonary diseases [were] recognized as being caused by the tubercle bacilli,” allowing a whole host of symptoms to be identified as “tuberculosis” that might have escaped such a diagnosis.16 The importance of the shift for medical historians is further evident, for example, in such collections as From Consumption to Tuberculosis: A Documentary History by Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz, which includes a variety of statistical, scientific, and historical accounts of the trajectory of the disease from the 1860s to 1990s.
Nonetheless, the potential shift in naming practices following Koch’s paper did not prevent physicians, patients, or writers from calling on the language of both “consumption” and “tuberculosis” to refer to the condition. This was true even when laboratory tests and, later, X-rays were made regular parts of the diagnostic process. Similarly, when Peretz’s protagonist declares, “Let it be a consumption,” he is not being willfully anachronistic. Rather, he draws on one of the many terms used in Yiddish to name a sickness that had only recently acquired a specifically bacterial identity. Alongside Peretz’s optserung, which derives from the German word meaning “emaciation” (Abzehrung), Yiddish possesses multiple terms to evoke the dreaded vayse pest (white plague). Some of the terms are akin to “consumption,” and others more directly translate the name “tuberculosis.” Besides the Latinate tuberkuloze, one may refer to the disease in Yiddish using words of Germanic origin, such as shvindzukht (consumption), di der (alt., di dar; the withering), or, ironically, di gute krenk (the good disease); words of Slavic origin, such as sukhote (drying) or tshakhotke (wasting); or katute, a local term employed by patients at the Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society of Denver, Colorado, alongside te-be, a Yiddish version of the English acronym.
By 1900, Hebrew boasted a similarly rich range of terms to refer to the disease, including the Latinate tuberkulozah, the biblical term shaḥefet (cf. Leviticus 26:16 and Deuteronomy 28:22), the Hebrew phrase gniḥat dam (moan of blood), and the descriptive razon (thinning) used by Zagorodski in Our Lives and Longevity. The tubercular Hebrew poet Raḥel Bluvshtein, known simply as Raḥel, also referred to the disease in her private correspondence by the more allusive expression maḥalat ha-sofrim, “the authors’ disease.”17
While 1882 may mark the biological recognition of the disease called tuberculosis, it certainly did not precipitate the complete dismissal of all other terms that remained at the Yiddish or Hebrew writer’s disposal. Even writers who were diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis using the most advanced scientific methods of the twentieth century continued to draw on a wide range of vocabulary to define their own as well their subject’s ailments.18 Despite the medical profession’s ability to define the illness more precisely, tuberculosis retained a myriad of associations. These connotations, in turn, were inflected by social, linguistic, and aesthetic considerations. Throughout this study, I refer to the illness in question using a variety of site-specific names, paying close attention to the writer’s word choice and the connotations attending it. Relatedly, I restrict my inquiry to writers who specifically self-identified as tubercular or consumptive and who explicitly sought treatment for the disease. I leave the practice of retrospective diagnosis to medical historians and physicians.19
In addition to a rich and varied set of naming practices, the disease itself bore with it a tradition of interpretation that had long associated the illness with sexual attractiveness and refinement. Although it may seem surprising, a disease marked by bloody hemoptysis and emaciation was also considered a sign of beauty, delicacy, and creative potential. Already by the seventeenth century, consumption had been aestheticized as a manifestation of lovesickness across European belles lettres.20 Melancholy gaunt lovers plagued by consumption—or pthisis as it was often called—filled the work of early-modern writers and poets alike. It was a depiction that also drew on and contributed to contemporary medical discourse on the subject.21 By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the illness had come to be seen as a mark of refinement, Christian spiritual grace, and even bourgeois luxury, as consumptive victims “took the cure” in port cities and mountain retreats around Europe. The grand health tour was so well documented that the critic Susan Sontag once noted with evident disdain that “the Romantics invented invalidism as a pretext for leisure.”22 The disease came additionally to be linked to ideals of beauty. The pale consumptive was modeled by such figures as the dying heroine of Alexandre Dumas’s novel La Dame aux camélias (1848) and by portraits of Elizabeth Siddal, the consumptive muse of the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti.23
Both Dumas’s heroine and Siddal came to exemplify the ailing female body, wasting away with genteel grace, burning eyes, and seductive red lips—all established tropes of European Romanticism. These female figures were deemed attractive in their suffering, and their wan, emaciated faces conveyed erotic allure. The figure of the pale tubercular beauty similarly appeared in fin de siècle German texts, such as Thomas Mann’s novella Tristan (1903), in which the male hero finds the pallid visage of the consumptive heroine Gabriele Klöterjahn intoxicating.24 By the mid-twentieth century, the elegant beauty associated with consumption had also morphed into a sign of sexual appetite, as tuberculosis was sourced as the cause of an increased sex drive.25
In addition to an illness of sensuality, sensitivity, and sexual allure, consumption became known as both the source and manifestation of creativity. The prevalence of wasting poets in the English tradition, most notably John Keats, only served to cement a reputation for the illness as one intimately connected to literary genius. As the Duboses summarize, “Throughout medical history there runs this suggestion—that the intellectually gifted are the most likely to contract the disease, and furthermore that the same fire which wastes the body in consumption also makes the mind shine with a brighter light.”26 The idea extended far beyond the borders of the British Empire, as Russian Romantic poets, such as the late nineteenth-century writer Semyon Nadson, became known not only for their elegant sentimental verse but for the symbiotic relationship between disease and cultural production. As Robert Dietrich Wessling has argued, “Nadson inscribed his life into a larger cultural context, employing a dualistic approach in a cultural idiom that fused the medical physiology of bodily illness with the literariness of the poet’s suffering.”27 In short, the poet’s aesthetics were understood to be inseparably linked to his physiological ailment.
This conflation between tuberculosis and literary creativity also flourished in the German sphere. As late as 1932, medical historian Erich Hugo Ebstein could still publish a collection of fifty-two sketches of consumptive figures. The collection, Tuberkulose als Schicksal, asserts the pivotal role played by Tuberculosis as Destiny in the lives of such famous men as Chopin, Goethe, Gorki, Keats, Klabund, Molière, Novalis, Paganini, Rousseau, Schiller, and Spinoza.28 One might convincingly add to this list Thoreau, Chekhov, and, of course, Kafka. Less than a decade later, the American medical historian Lewis Moorman echoed Ebstein in his own work, Tuberculosis and Genius (1940), arguing that the feverish tubercular experience corresponds to an equally feverish burst of creativity. “Inescapable physical inactivity,” wrote Moorman, “begets mental activity.” That mental activity, in turn, was sparked as the tubercular patient suffered.29 Across the globe and linguistic traditions, tuberculosis was commonly accepted as a mark of literary chosenness and creative potential, even as the disease proved physically harrowing and incurable.
For Romantic writers, the tubercular visage was deemed beautiful, alluring, and interesting. In what has now become almost legend, we are told of an occasion when the poet Lord Byron looked into the mirror and exclaimed, “How pale I look! I should like, I think, to die of a consumption.” When Byron was asked why, he responded, “Because then the women would all say, ‘See that poor Byron—how interesting he looks in dying!’”30 His initial exclamation foreshadows those of Peretz’s protagonist—“zol zayn an optserung.” Yet these words, in contrast to those of Byron, are recognizably tinged with irony. The possibility of an ennobling illness is unavailable to the Yiddish protagonist who is poor, cold, and beginning to cough. The story as a whole works to undermine the Romantic impulse of the narrator. He may long to live a life of fairy-tale love, but his Jewish identity and material circumstances prevent him from yielding to those urges.
As an impoverished urban writer, Peretz’s protagonist also would likely have been aware of the reputation of tuberculosis as a “social disease.” Although the “perverted sentimentalism” of Romantic literary expression would continue well into the twentieth century, public health activists in Europe, Russia, and the United States increasingly assessed the disease as an affliction of poverty and poor labor conditions.31 Across Europe, tuberculosis was decried as an illness that was “inherent in the lifestyle of the working classes” and “determined by the dictates of industrial capitalism and wage labor.” Unsanitary conditions and overcrowding only exacerbated contagion rates among the urban poor.32 Similarly, in fin de siècle Moscow a scientific understanding of the causes of tuberculosis dovetailed with a social explanation. “Tuberculosis, as a social disease,” writes the physician-historian Michael Zdenek David, “straddled the divisions among hygienists and bacteriologists because in the contemporary medical understanding, it was at once a bacterial disease and the result of poverty, poor social policy, and ignorance.”33
For many Yiddish public health activists and writers, the idea of tuberculosis as a social disease also translated into a direct association of di vayse pest with the poor working conditions of the Jewish laborer. As Irving Howe later recalled, tuberculosis was known among Jews on the Lower East Side as “the tailors’ disease.”34 Writing in Warsaw in 1925, Gershn Levin warned his Polish Jewish readership in words both sympathetic and authoritative to be aware of the relationship between a chosen vocation and a propensity for tuberculosis:
There are many jobs that incline towards tuberculosis, those that are not conducted in the fresh air, in poorly ventilated apartments, in smoke, or in small rooms. That is why there is a lot of tuberculosis among printers, lithographers, waiters, painters, bookbinders, joiners, upholsterers, hat makers, bakers, and others similar. . . . I know it’s not easy to change jobs, but if it’s an issue of tuberculosis, one needs to figure it out.35
In this text, Levin calls on Jewish workers to advocate for themselves and to endeavor, to the best of their ability, to change their life circumstances. Of course, to do so, as Levin admits, would likely have been difficult if not impossible.
Other voices participating in the discussion were less instructive and far more strident. For example, the Yiddish novelist Sholem Asch describes one of the many Jewish types populating his New York saga East River (1946) as “the victim [der korbn] of the capitalist system.”36 It was an idea that had been reinforced in Yiddish writing for nearly fifty years, where coughing sweatshop laborers appeared ever more gaunt in publication after publication. We might consider, for example, the poem “A Teardrop on the Iron” by the so-called sweatshop poet Morris Rosenfeld. In the poem, Rosenfeld immortalizes the figure of the consumptive Yiddish laborer. The speaker is a typical garment worker. In the dank, dark space of the shop, he holds an iron in his hand and exclaims:
My heart is weak, I groan and cough;
my sick chest barely rises.
I groan and cough and press and think,
my eye grows moist, a tear falls,
the iron glows: my little tear
it seethes and seethes and does not boil away.
Mayn harts iz shvakh, ikh krekhts un hust;
es heybt zikh koym mayn kranke brust.
Ikh krekhts un hust un pres un kler,
mayn oyg vert faykht, es falt a trer,
der ayzn glit: dos trerl mayn
dos kokht un kokht un zidt nit ayn.37
The teardrop, presumably ephemeral but evidently persistent, remains the lone physical remnant of the worker otherwise consumed by his wasting disease. In the German collection of Rosenfeld’s poems published around 1903, “A Teardrop on the Iron” appears several pages after a woodcut by E. M. Lilien of a pot-bellied vampiric capitalist sucking the life from an emaciated tubercular tailor slumped over his work.38 Tuberculosis, as writers, artists, and health advocates contended, was the symptom of a global economic system that exploited workers, rendering them sickly, weak, and helpless.
1. I. L. Peretz, “Mayses,” in Di tsayt, vol. 2, Ale verk fun Y. L. Perets (New York: Morgn-Frayhayt with the Permission of B. Kletzkin Farlag, Poland, 1920), 178.
2. For a medical overview of tuberculosis, including basic facts about the disease, its pathology, and treatment practices, see Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Tuberculosis (TB),” accessed December 26, 2014, http://www.cdc.gov/tb/.
3. My use of the term “mediator” here draws on the work of Bruno Latour, who defines the “mediator” as that which “render[s] the movement of the social visible to the reader.” Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 128.
4. World Health Organization, “TB: Reach the 3 Million,” WHO Document Production Services, 2014, 5,
5. Ibid., 3; World Health Organization, “Tuberculosis: WHO Global Tuberculosis Report,” 2014, 1, http://www.who.int/tb/publications/factsheet_global.pdf?ua=1.
6. Richard Luscombe, “Florida Closes Only Tuberculosis Hospital amid Worst US Outbreak in 20 Years,” The Guardian, July 9, 2012, US edition, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jul/09/florida-closes-tuberculosis-hospital-outbreak?newsfeed=true.
7. Recognizing that a modern medical vocabulary to describe various aspects of tuberculosis would not be available to his readers, Zagorodski at times translates his terminology into Yiddish. For example, he follows the Hebrew term ha-shi‘ul with the parenthetical Yiddish hustn, both referring to coughing. See Y. Ḥ. Zagorodski, “Ḥayenu ve-’orekh yamenu: ‘Etsot ve-ḥukim li-shemor beri’ut ha-guf” (Warsaw: Schuldberg, 1898), 106.
8. René J. Dubos and Jean Dubos, The White Plague: Tuberculosis, Man, and Society (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996), 142–44.
9. M. Gotlieb, Zayt gezund (Warsaw: Tsukermans Folksbibliotek, 1899–1900).
10. David S. Barnes, The Making of a Social Disease: Tuberculosis in Nineteenth-Century France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 4, 13; Michael Zdenek David, “The White Plague in the Red Capital: The Control of Tuberculosis in Russia, 1900–1941” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2007) ProQuest/UMI (Publication No. 3287026), 1; Dubos and Dubos, The White Plague, 10; “Ten Leading Causes of Death in the United States, 1900, 1940, 1976,” in From Consumption to Tuberculosis: A Documentary History, ed. Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993), 3–4.
11. As reported by Joseph Marcus, Social and Political History of the Jews in Poland, 1919–1939 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1983), 191. As Marcus notes, however, these statistics are based on official death certificates and likely do not account for all death from tuberculosis (ibid., 493n17).
12. Barnes, The Making of a Social Disease, 4, 258n9.
13. For narration of his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis as well as the near-simultaneous discovery by other scientists, see Dubos and Dubos, The White Plague, 101–4.
14. The article first appeared in English in the American Veterinary Review 13 (1884): 54–59, 106–12, 202–4. For a reprint, see Robert Koch, “Aetiology of Tuberculosis,” trans. Rev. F. Sause, in From Consumption to Tuberculosis: A Documentary History, ed. Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994), 197–224.
15. Gershn Levin, “Der kamf mit der shvindzukht,” Haynt, February 20 [March 5], 1909, 6.
16. The Duboses date the first printed record of the term “tuberculosis” to 1840. Dubos and Dubos, The White Plague, 6–7.
17. As quoted in Muki Tsur, “Ke-ḥakot Raḥel: Kavim biyografiyim,” in Ha-shirim, by Raḥel (Bene Barak: Ha-Kibuts Ha-Meʾuḥad, 2011), 66.
18. David Barnes has also recently shown that, in the case of France, “the redemptive-spiritual view persisted long after the sociomedical understanding arose that (far from being mutually exclusive) the two sets of meanings coexisted, at once complementing and contesting each other throughout the Belle Epoque.” As Barnes proves, the shift from an understanding of “consumption” to an understanding of “tuberculosis” in France was not a decisive break. Barnes, The Making of a Social Disease, 51.
19. For example, I do not include an analysis of Uri Nissan Gnessin, who suffered from a variety of heart and chest ailments but never specifically named his disease as tuberculosis or consumption. On Gnessin’s heart disease (maḥalat ha-lev), see Bentsiyon Benshalom, Uri Nisan Genesin: Monografiyah (Krakow: Miflat, 1934), 104; Sh. Bikhovsky, “Uri Nisan Genesin,” in Ha-tsidah: Kovets zikaron le-A. N. Genesin, by Uri Nissan Gnessin (Jerusalem: Defus Aḥdut, 1913), 89–91; Zalman Shneur, “Al Uri Nisan Genesin,” in Ḥ. N. Bialik u-vene doro (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1958), 405.
20. Clark Lawlor, Consumption and Literature: The Making of the Romantic Disease (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 15–27.
21. Ibid., 8. See also, Katherine Byrne, Tuberculosis and the Victorian Literary Imagination (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 4.
22. Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors (New York: Picador USA, 2001), 33.
23. Byrne, Tuberculosis and the Victorian Literary Imagination, 96–99.
24. Thomas Mann, Tristan, in Death in Venice and Other Stories, trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947), 320.
25. Sander L. Gilman, Franz Kafka: The Jewish Patient (New York: Routledge, 1995), 187–89.
26. Dubos and Dubos, The White Plague, 59.
27. Robert Diedrich Wessling, “Semyon Nadson and the Cult of the Tubercular Poet” (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1988), 2, ProQuest (Order No. 9923103).
28. Erich Ebstein, Tuberkulose als Schicksal: Eine Sammlung pathographischer Skizzen von Calvin bis Klabund, 1509–1928 (Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke Verlag, 1932).
29. Lewis Jefferson Moorman, Tuberculosis and Genius (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1940), xi.
30. Thomas Moore, The Life of Lord Byron (London: John Murray, 1844), 113. See also Sontag, Illness as Metaphor, 31.
31. Dubos and Dubos, The White Plague, 65.
32. Barnes, The Making of a Social Disease, 31, 36.
33. David, “The White Plague in the Red Capital,” 59.
34. Irving Howe, World of Our Fathers: The Journey of the East European Jews to America and the Life They Found and Made (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1976), 149.
35. G[ershn] Levin, Lungen-shvindukht iz heylbar! (Warsaw: TOZ, 1925), 32–33.
36. Sholem Asch, Ist river: Roman (New York: Elias Laub, 1946), 39.
37. Morris Rosenfeld, “A trer afn ayzn,” in Gezamelte lider (New York: International Library, 1906), 14–15. I have drawn on Marc Miller’s translation and modified it slightly. Marc Miller, Representing the Immigrant Experience: Morris Rosenfeld and the Emergence of Yiddish Literature in America (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2007), 123.
38. Morris Rosenfeld, Lieder des Ghetto, trans. Berthold Feiwel (Berlin: S. Calvary, 1903), 36.