Реферат: Bleeding The Past Essay Research Paper Bleeding

Bleeding The Past Essay, Research Paper

Bleeding the pastThe Blood Doctor by Barbara Vine 400pp, VikingThere is something despicable about the genetics of haemophilia. Sufferers are male. Women carry the gene silently, realising their inheritance only when they give birth to an affected boy, who need not be their first son. By then they may have had daughters, some of whom will, in turn, pass the mutation to their children. Barbara Vine constructs her new novel around this fateful roulette. The Blood Doctor is narrated by Martin Nanther, a biographer whose latest subject is his great-grandfather. Dr Henry Nanther was a 19th-century expert in bleeding disorders. When Queen Victoria’s eighth child, Leopold, was diagnosed as a “bleeder” – as haemophiliacs were termed in less enlightened times – Henry was appointed physician to the royal household. As Martin investigates his illustrious forebear’s life, he stumbles upon haemophilia in his own convoluted family tree. Retracing its spread through the generations, he finds confirmation of his deepening suspicions about his great-grandfather’s morality and character. Anyone who has compiled a detailed family tree, let alone superimposed a genetic pedigree on it, will know it is a truly tedious business. Vine is rather too faithful to the process, and although the great-grandparental mystery at the heart of Martin’s researches holds the reader’s attention for some while, fatigue eventually sets in. Rather than shocking, the “monstrous” denouement feels curiously anticlimactic, such is the lack of motivation for it in the narrative. Fortunately, there are other facets to The Blood Doctor. Henry, ennobled by Queen Victoria, has passed the title of Lord Nanther down his line. The novel is set during the long passage through parliament of the House of Lords bill. As an hereditary, Martin faces banishment. Vine brings the rituals, procedures, and atmosphere of the Upper House vividly to life. Perhaps surprisingly, one begins to appreciate, even to share, Martin’s pride and affection for the place. Haemophilia need no longer result in disability and early death, and recent advances reflect the capacity of modern medicine to intervene in the reproductive process. Vine draws these issues in. Throughout The Blood Doctor Martin’s second wife, Jude, is trying for a baby. A series of miscarriages devastates her, petrifies the marriage, and eventually un-masks the couple’s own genetic fallibility. The portrayal of Jude’s repeatedly dashed hopes is noteworthy. It is surpassed by Vine’s clear-eyed characterisation of Martin, whose conflicting feelings about a future child only deepen as Jude is offered IVF and genetic selection of the resultant embryos. The science is incorporated with considerable skill, and although The Blood Doctor never approaches the finesse of Vine’s earlier works, such as A Dark-Adapted Eye, it does repay perseverance, not least for the light it casts on the business of having babies.· Phil Whitaker is a GP and forensic medical examiner. His third novel, The Face, is published by Atlantic

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