A Conversation for Leprosy


Post 1


Very interesting article, I must say. The thing about about deformity and fingers dropping off is of particular interest as it is such an abiding image in films and books - 'Ben Hur' and 'Papillon' being two well-known examples. As you mentioned in the entry, it seems that deformity is very common amongst advanced leprosy sufferers though because of this problem with anaesthetic limbs. No feeling = no awareness of problem until too late. So, a thorn in a foot or some grit in an eye will simply be ignored until it has already become infected or caused advanced damage. So, the image is often correct, lepers often do have missing limbs, blindness or other deformities and the cause of that is the presence of leprosy in the first place.

In the case of 'Papillon', both book and film, there is the famous episode where the leper hands a drink to the hero, only to find that a finger has remained stuck to the mug when he takes his hand away. But it should be noted that the book was originally sold to the publisher as 'a novel' and the author was persuaded to change it to 'an account' as a, very successful, marketing ploy. It then became known as 'a true story' after a while.

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