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Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Christine Sparks - The Elephant Man 

The Elephant Man
Christine Sparks

I associated freaks with elephants after watching this show on tv when I was young, being the impressionable kid I was then, which resulted in my healthy disinclination for even cutesy animated Elephas maximus characters on tv, like the one of a little, orphaned elephant that became king of the elephants - Barbar The Elephant.

Reading this real life story of Joseph Merrick a dozen years later, I am humbled by his will, courage and determination to be educated even with the public contempt and stigma his unfortunate disfigurement brought. Joseph apparently suffered frm Proteus Syndrome, a condition which involves atypical growth of the bones, skin, head, and a variety of other symptoms. Joseph had a misshapen head due to an extreme overgrowth of bone in his skull and the right side of his body. He was thrown out of the house by his step-mother, sold shoe-black in the streets, paraded in a Victorian circus freakshow, but was later rescued by Surgeon Frederick Treves. After several appearances to the medical community, he becomes somewhat of a celebrated medical observation, and then is well cared for. However, it is his struggle for survival, the never-ending quest for knowledge and thirst for genuine human relationship that makes the book worth reading.

If you are interested in reading this extraordinary story of courage and human dignity, look out for the Book Swap Meet III on March 7th.


graceshu  # 5:17 AM
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