La epilepsia en la literatura

- based on compilations and commentaries made by P.Wolf, Bielefeld-Bethel -
[Epilepsieblätter 7 (1994); Suppl. 2, S.43-47 und 9 (1996) Suppl. 1, S.56-59)]

Other examples can be found in: "Das ist eine alte Krankheit - Epilepsiemotive in der Literatur." (D.v.Engelhardt, H. Schneble, P. Wolf. Schattauer, Stuttgart 2000)

OV: original version
EV: English version
Tr: translation


ABSE, Dannie

OV: Ash on a Young Man´s Sleeve
       - 1954, England

In one of the intensive, detailed scenes which make up this Entwicklungsroman (novel tracing the development of a character), two boys see the only other person travelling in their train compartment having an epileptic seizure. They feel helpless and are deeply disturbed. The first person narrator will recall this incident years later when he is at a station. The rattling of the fighter plane is compared to an "epileptic samba".


OV: De amor y de sombra - 1984, Chile
EV: Of Love and Shadows - 1986

  1. Description of hysterical fits with arc de cercle in the 15-year-old Evangelina, which are expressly differentiated from epilepsy and are believed to be caused by tabooed sexuality.
  2. Together with the lame and the blind, "epileptics" are counted among those who beg for money and the church’s blessing at the cathedral door.


OV: "Chin Ping Mei" - 16th century, China
EV: The Plum in the Golden Vase (Chin P’ing Mei) vol. 1 (only vol. 1 of the original 5 has been translated into English)
Tr: David T. Roy

A beloved child dies at the age of 14 months from convulsions during a fever.


OV: "The Weeping Ash" - 1980, England

The author believes that epilepsy is preceded by a number of changes in character which could enable someone with experience to diagnose the disease.


OV: "Mot kvaeld" - 1900, Norway

The protagonist suffers abnormal states. When describing these, the author probably draws on his own experience of epilepsy.

ATWOOD, Margaret

OV: Life Before Man - 1979, Canada

A woman compares the absent look of a femlae rival with a petit mal seizure.

OV: Bluebeard´s Egg and Other Stories - 1983r

In the short story "The Salt Garden", a young woman suffers unexplainable attacks of unconsciousness which are triggered by a complex visual hallucination. She wonders whether she could be a "borderline epileptic".

OV: The Handmaid`s Tale - 1985

A perfidious attack of laughter is compared to an epileptic seizure because it cannot be held back.

OV: Cat`s Eye - 1989

A sudden inspiration which is to have a positive influence on the rest of the character’s life is metaphorically compared to an epileptic seizure on account of its overpowering nature.

BARNES, Julian

OV: Flauber`s Parrot - 1984, England

Barnes’s novel, a kind of alternative attempt at a biography, often mentions Flaubert’s supposedly having epilepsy, without giving any more concrete details than can be found in the conventional secondary literature.


OV: Gospel - 1993, USA

This novel, which was inspired by Umberto Ecco, is about the discovery of a copy of St Mark's Gospel from the 1 st century. In a discussion between theologians of different confessions, both Paul and Mohammed are undisputedly declared to have been "epileptic".


OV: L´enfant de sable - 1985, France
EV: The Sand Child
Tr: Alan Sheridan

A woman, who has been brought up as a man and heir, agrees to marry a female cousin who is physically handicapped and suffers from epilepsy.

OV: La nuit sacré - 1987
EV: The Sacred Night
Tr: Alan Sheridan


OV: Amras - 1964, Austria

The epilepsy of a mother and her son, here called the "Tirolean sickness", and depicted beyond the bounds of realism, is given emblematic significance in this story.

BURNIER, Andreas

OV: Een tevreden lach - 1965, Netherlands

The medical student Simone, who feels herself erotically to be a man, suffers two epileptic seizures: once when she has suffered alexia (it is not explained why she gets this) and decides she wants to change her studies to mathematics after and after a sleepless night goes to the department for the first time; and once in her sleep after her first happy sexual experience with a man. After her first seizure she suffers long-term retrograde amnesia and lands in the "loony bin", where nobody does anything to help her. She flushes the Luminal tablets which she is given down the toilet.


OV: Pons Pilate - 1961, France

In Callois's story about Pontius Pilate, the figure of Judas Iscariot follows the interpretation that he was the most loyal of Jesus’ disciples and knowingly took on the role of the evil-doer in order to make Jesus’ martyrdom possible. When he is brought before Pilate, Iscariot, who is "possessed by demons" demands that Pilate order Jesus’ execution, and then breaks out in an epileptic seizure.

CAREY, Peter

OV: Illywhacker - 1985, Australia

The capricious Phoebe unscrupulously uses the devotion of her platonic admirer, the "epileptic" poet Horace Dunlop.

CAVE, Nick

OV: And the Ass saw the Angel - 1989, USA

The protagonist, who was born dumb and who is identified in many allusions with the broken figure of Christ, suffers twilight states, which he terms "dead time". During these states he has hallucinations and significant experiences and sometimes carries out complex actions. The possibility that these states could be epileptic is hinted at.


OV: The Big Sleep - 1939, USA

The case that has to be solved in this detective story is founded on the secret that a woman has shot a man while having an epileptic seizure and cannot remember anything about it.


OV: The Andromedar Strain - 1969, USA

A group of explorers find themselves in danger when one of them has an epileptic seizure at a critical moment.

OV: The Terminal Man - 1972, USA

A man with post-traumatic epilepsy is portrayed as constituting a public danger because of his aggressive actions during his epileptic seizures.


OV: The Murder on the Links - 1923, England

The body of a man who has died during an epileptic seizure is used to fake the murder of a man who looks similar to the dead man and who wants to escape being blackmailed.

AO: The ABC Murders - 1936, England

The villain cleverly tries to foist a series of murders onto a war-disabled ex-serviceman who suffers from traumatic epilepsy.

OV: Nemesis - 1971, England

After being told one morning about the surprising discovery of a corpse in the house, the woman spontaneously asks: "Someone from the family? An epileptic fit?" In two other places "epileptics" are mentioned as examples of people who need sympathy and support.


OV: Poor Miss Finch - 1872, England

After a head injury which causes brain damage, a young man develops epilepsy. He is successfully treated with silver nitrate, which however, causes dyschromia (discoloration of the skin) and thus makes it possible for people to differentiate between him and his twin brother.

COOKSON, Catherine

OV: The Gillyvors - 1990, England

Timothy suffers from epilepsy caused by a trauma. As a result he feels that he cannot ask Anna to marry him, although he is her social superior. His seizures are triggered by ‘conflicts’. In 1883 he is given a new type of medicine which lessens the severity of the seizures but does not stop them. The prejudice that regards epilepsy as being tantamount to a mental disease or mental deficiency is dealt with and refuted.


OV: Elena, Elena, amore mio - 1991, Italy

An ironic retelling of the "Iliad" in which Priam’s epileptic son Aisakos foresees the future.

DALGAS, Ernesto

OV: Lidelsens vej - 1898, Denmark
DA: liegt nicht vor

A visionary experience of the protagonist is described like an epileptic "jamais vu".

OV: Dommedags bog - 1899, Denmark

In this book, which belongs to the genre "fantasy literature", the epileptic author uses images from the world of his own psychosis.

DICKENS, Charles

OV: Oliver Twist - 1837/ 38, England

The features of Oliver's evil half-brother Monks are distorted by epileptic seizures brought on by fright. They are viewed as divine punishment for his evilness.

DOSTOYEVSKI, Fyodor Mikhailovic

OV: Idiot - 1868/ 69, Russia
EV: The Idiot - 1970
Tr: D. Magarshack

Dostoyevski suffered from epilepsy, and epilepsy motifs play an important role in many of his works.

OV: Besy - 1871/72, Russia

OV: Bratja Karamazovy - 1879/80, Russia
EV: The Brothers Karamazov, 1993
Tr: D. McDuff

DREWITZ, Ingeborg

OV: Eingeschlossen - 1986, Germany

A young man who has been diagnosed as having epilepsy is — for reasons which are not explained - put into a closed psychiatric institution. Misleading and repulsive description of a seizure and its treatment.

ELIOT, George (EVANS, Mary Ann)

OV: Silas Marner - 1861, England

The trances of the protagonist, which are called "catalepsy" but which are described as if they were epileptic twilight states, play an important role in the plot.


OV: Jakob und seine Freunde - 1993, Germany

Children's book with sensitive description of a boy who has epileptic absences.

FARMER, Penelope

OV: Snakes and Ladders - 1993, England

A research project about ways of improving the treatment of epilepsy in developing countries plays in important role in this novel by the author, who is married to a well-known epileptologist.


OV: The Closed Hanging - 1987, USA

Matt Sinclair, a homosexual and a successful attorney and antique dealer in New Orleans, gets epilepsy after a riding accident. He takes a combination of Dilatin and Luminal and is seizure-free. When a drug addict exchanges the drugs for a placebo, Sinclair suffers a relapse and is suspected of murder.

OV: Kiss Yourself Goodbye - 1989, USA

The villain tries to murder Matt Sinclair, who appears in this book as a detective. Sinclair tells the murderer himself that a series of seizures would lead to suffocation caused by spasms of the respiratory muscles. The villain ties and gags him, intending to trigger the seizures using electric shocks and then to remove the bonds after he has died so that he appears to have died spontaneously during a normal seizure. , so dass es nach einem spontanen Tod im Anfall aussähe.

FICHTE, Hubert

OV: Das Waisenhaus - 1965, Germany

One of the girls in the orphanage run by nuns is protected from the Nazi officials because she has a special form of epilepsy with absences triggered by photosensitivity.


OV: Owls do Cry - 1957, New Zealand

The seizures of one of the protagonists described here in poetic metaphors (in as far as they are her own subjective perception) play an important role in the plot.

OV: To the Is-Land. Autobiography 1 - 1982, New Zealand
OV: An Angel at my Table. Autobiography 2 - 1984, New Zealand
OV: The Envoy from Mirror City. Autobiographie 3 - 1984, Newzealand

The epileptic story of the author’s younger brother, which she uses in a free form in "Owls do Cry" — together with much other autobiographical material — is discussed in the first and in the second volume of her autobiography.


OV: Chamber Music - 1979, USA
DA: liegt nicht vor

EA boy with a great talent for music defends himself against a physical attack with a wild counter-attack which is explained with the diagnosis "epilepsy".


OV: Das Windrad - 1983, Germany

The development of an emotional relationship with an autistic boy becomes very important to the main character. At the beginning of the novel, an epileptic seizure which the child suffers is dramatically described, but then the motif is forgotten.


OV: The Falling Women - 1992, Australia

During a journey with her lover in the desolate Australian north, Stella/Estella, the author's alter-ego, remembers her adolescence, the discovery of her homosexuality, and the many facets of her epilepsy.


OV: White Horses - 1982, USA

The psycho-reactive narcoleptic attacks of a young girl are described to other people as a minor type of epilepsy with the aim of playing down the disease.


OV: The Rich are Different - 1978, USA

EA big businessman suffers from a hereditary epilepsy, which he is able to overcome for many years through strict discipline and by doing sport, but he has to keep this secret from his opponents. The reoccurrence of the seizures during a time of emotional crisis make him impotent.


OV: The Blindfold - 1992, USA

In this brilliantly written novel, which revolves around the theme of sight in ever new variations and in which attacks and crises repeatedly occur (migraine, asthma, fainting, sudden ideas), the observation and photographing of an epileptic seizure, which is shot unusually from a bird’s eye view and is described as in agonising slow-motion, plays a central role.


OV: Die Epigonen - 1823/ 35, Germany

In one scene in a country inn, a chambermaid suffers an epileptic seizure and all the bystanders have their say about it.

JACOBSEN, Jens Peter

>OV: Niels Lyhne - 1880, Denmark

A beloved child dies, aged 2, of convulsions during a fever.


OV: Class Reunion - 1979, USA

A young woman had absences and a few grand mal seizures when she was a girl and years later still lives in fear that they might recur.

OV: After The Reunion - 1985, USA

When the woman has a seizure again, her husband, for whom the seizures were in theory not a problem, turns away from her.


OV: The Children of Men - 1981, England

After 25 years of universal sterility, a woman with a crippled hand has a child by a man who had epilepsy in his youth. The new hope for humanity rests on this child.


OV: The Pugilist at Rest - 1991, USA

Epilepsy is mentioned in 5 of the 11 stories—3 times as a main motif.

  • In the title story, the first-person narrator fractures his skull while boxing and gets a temporal lobe epilepsy with auras like Dostoyevski. He believes that there is an "epileptic personality" which appears before the onset of a seizure, that dogs can be trained to help during a seizure and that anti-epileptic drugs have no effect and are harmful. Finally he is persuaded by a dubious neuro-surgeon to undergo surgery.
  • "The Black Lights" varies the theme of temporal lobe epilepsy, which causes the same first-person narrator to be admitted to a navy psychiatric institution. The black lights are ictal hallucinations.
  • In "Unchain my Heart" a young editor describes her love to an animalistically strong, fearless man and talks of "orgasms like epilepsy".
  • In "Silhouettes", a young girl gets her own way by having pseudo-epileptic seizures, the term which the author also uses for them.
  • In "A White Horse", the main character comes round after a car accident in Bombay, where she had travelled to during a "fugue epileptique", a twilight state caused by epileptic seizures.

KADARÉ, Ismail

Le pont au trois arches - 1981 (French translation of the Albanian original, Tr: Jusuf Vrioni)

In this story, which is set in the 14th century, a secret agent posing as a "travelling seer" gains entrance by faking an epileptic seizure.


OV: Die mischpoche Maschber - 1939/ 48, USSR

In the development of Alter, the eldest of 3 brothers, phases of great talent and progress alternate with phases of mental derangement. Alter's first epileptic seizure, triggered by a dramatic break - up between the other two brothers — interpreted by the doctor as the crisis in the course of the disease - is the beginning of a new phase of mental clarity.


OV: Utazas a koponyam körül, Hungary, 1937

This book is the author’s literary examination of his own cerebellar neoplasm and his being operated on by Olivecrona. Karinthy knows that differentiations are made between different epilepsies and that "Jacksonian Epilepsy" can be treated operatively. He sees a film which shows Cushing performing such an operation.


OV: One Flew Over the Cuckoo´s Nest - 1962, USA

For Kesey, who describes an epileptic seizure being triggered by sexual intercourse, the diagnosis "epilepsy" is enough indication for long-term psychiatric treatment in an institution. In this story, the therapeutic problems of epileptic patients are reduced to two alternatives: seizures or gum proliferation.


OV: Das Taschentuch - 1994, Germany

Willi, the everyday hero of the book, dies after he falls during one of his epileptic seizures, which are seemingly arbitrarily termed "epilepsy", "unconsciousness", "dizziness", "absence" or "convulsive disorder". Repeated descriptions of seizures which bear no similarity whatsoever with actual types of epileptic seizure.

KUBIN, Alfred

OV: Die andere Seite - 1909, Austria EV: The other Side, 2000 Tr: Mike Mitchell

The fantasy novel describes a "dream world" whose ruler Patera is an "epileptic" whose seizures are viewed by all the inhabitants of the empire (figures in his dreams?) as proof of his being crazy, as a curse, a moment of unspeakable distress which leaves exhaustion and destruction in its wake.

LENZ, Siegfried

OV: Deutschstunde - 1968, Germany
EV: The German Lesson

The epileptic seizures of a minor character have less influence on the development of the plot than expected.

LEVI, Primo

OV: La tregua - 1963, Italy

After being in the concentration camp in Ausschwitz and then in a Russian prison camp, people are on the train journey home. In the train an epileptic boy appears. He always stays with one group until he has the next seizure, after which he shyly withdraws.


OV: Lamb - 1980, England

The 12-yer-old Owen Kane has grown up in asocial conditions and slips into crime. He suffers from grand mal seizures which are preceded by an aura. He experiences the aura as something pleasant and would like to be always in this state. Owen tells this to a runaway monk, Lamb, who wants to be a father figure to him. Out of misunderstood love in a situation which Lamb sees as being hopeless, he drowns Owen during a provoked seizure.

MANN, Thomas

OV: Buddenbrooks - 1901, Germany
EV: Buddenbrooks, 1996
Tr: H.T. Lowe-Porter

The portrayal of complex febrile convulsions which the little Hanno Buddenbrook suffers during teething is "probably the first proof in Thomas Mann's work for the author's preoccupation with the disease epilepsy as part of his creative development." (Kruse, 1994)

OV: Der Zauberberg - 1924, Deutschland
EV: The Magic Mountain, 1996
Tr: H.T. Lowe-Porter

The teacher Popov's grand mal seizure during lunch, which causes an indescribable tumult among the other patients in the tuberculosis sanatorium, reminds those present that Dr Krokowski, a doctor with a psychoanalytical bent, has interpreted the falling sickness according to the Freudian theory of instincts as the "equivalent of love and orgasm in the brain".

OV: Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull - 1922/ 36/ 54, Germany

The protagonist is able to get out of doing military service by faking a seizure during the initial medical examination.


OV: Disappearing Acts - 1989, USA

Among other things, the epileptic seizures of one of the main characters are used to show the others how to cope better with their own problems.


OV: La storia - 1974, Italy

The epileptic seizures of the child Useppe, his mother and — occasionally — his brother are a central motif in the plot.

OV: Aracoeli - 1982, Italy

Whilst in "La Storia" an epileptic seizure triggered by rape is misinterpreted by the man as a sexual climax with an orgasm, an orgasm in this story which is accompanied by shouting and flailing arms, is said to be more like an epileptic seizure than an expression of lust.

OE, Kenzaburo

OV: Shizuka na seikatsu - 1990, Japan

The role of the mentally handicapped older brother of the fictive narrator begins to shimmer between being protected and protecting, e.g. during a seizure in a crowded railway station.

ORUM, Poul

OV: Lyksalighedens o - 1958, Denmark

The 12-year-old Emilie has absences and occasional convulsions which she can induce herself in order to get her own way. She is depicted as being especially bold and daring, thus confirming one line of psychoanalytic literature which states that absences can take the place of the perception of fear.

OV: Kun sandheden - 1974, Denmark
DA: liegt nicht vor

A woman who is supposed to suffer from "petit mal" seizures cannot remember anything about a certain period of time when a murder was committed. Did she commit the crime unconsciously during a seizure or is she pretending to have lost her memory in order to protect someone else?

OZ, Amos

OV: Lada´at ischa - 1989, Israel
EV: To Know a Woman, 1992

The question whether the their daughter's convulsions are epileptic or psychogenic is one of the main reasons for Joel Ravid’s arguments with his wife.

PALMEN, Connie

OV: De Wetten - 1991, Netherlands

The second of 7 portraits of men which make up this novel depicts a highly intelligent philosophy student who with, many subtle details, reflects upon his own perception of his epilepsy.

PARKER, Robert B.

OV: Perchance to Dream - 1991, England

Chandler's epileptic girl from "The Big Sleep" is once again involved in criminal activities, but this time they have no connection with her epileptic seizures, which are only mentioned in passing.

PEAKE, Mervyn

OV: Titus Groan - 1946, England

Among the characters who inhabit this fantasy novel are two feeble-minded old maids: twins who say that they had epileptic seizures as young girls and that since then their limbs have been "starved" and stiff.

PENNAC, Daniel

OV: Au bonheur des ogres - 1985, France
OV: La fée carabine - 1987
OV: La petite marchande de prose - 1989

In all three volumes of this trilogy an epileptic dog gets seizures at critical points in the action.

PERCY, Walker

OV: The Last Gentleman - 1966, USA

In this novel we encounter Will Barrett (later the ageing protagonist in "The Second Coming") as a young man, a sensitive anti-hero who goes through life as if in a daydream. His frequent seizure-like attacks of memory impairment, partly déja vus, partly anamnesia and twilight states, have little to do with a medical diagnosis, they rather point to the sleepwalking state of his existence. Epilepsy is not a theme here.

OV: The Second Comming - 1980, USA

An unusual love story between a sensitively portrayed schizophrenic girl and a retired lawyer (the "Last Gentleman" from the book of the same name) who suffers from episodic unusual states and drop attacks, which are expressly stated as being epileptic ("temporal lobe petit mal"). However, the description of the seizures as being of an epileptic nature is unconvincing.

OV: The Thanatos Syndrome - 1987, USA

The story forges a link between the ethical problems surrounding modern technological medicine, organised medical developments and the medicine of National Socialism. The "status epilepticus" is given as an indication for euthanasia. One figure in the novel has gerontological and psychiatric problems and gets seizures which are convincingly described as being temporal lobe epilepsy.

PILCHER, Rosamunde

OV: The Shell Seakers - 1987, England

A young man has had a convulsion whose cause was unclear and, believing himself to have epilepsy, thinks that he is condemned to remain single for the rest of his life. The novel gives the false impression that to diagnose epilepsy a CT scan is needed as well as an EEG.

POE, Edgar Ellen

OV: Berenice - 1835, USA

All three stories are about being buried alive by mistake. In "Berenice" the apparent death is explained by epilepsy, in "The Fall of the House Usher" and in "The Premature Burial" by catalepsy.

OV: The Fall of the House of Usher - 1839, USA

AO: The Premature Burial

POLLCK, Richard

OV: The Episode - 1986, USA

The author, who himself suffers from epilepsy, intervenes in this book in the debate on epilepsy as a basis for defence in a criminal case. The novel can be read as an educational book on the subject "epilepsy and crime", or on epilepsy in general in the guise of a crime thriller.


OV: Dearly Beloved - 1990, USA

In a well-researched portrayal of epilepsy a boy can quell an oncoming seizure by using a kind of autosuggestion. His father had seizures as an adolescent and was cured.


OV: V. - 1961, USA
DA: V. - 1968
ÜB: Dietrich Stössel und Wulf Teichmann

In his first novel, Pynchon brings in the epilepsy motif which will play such a major role in "Lot 49" only once in an aside when he mentions a poet living on Ischia "who had the misfortune to be both homosexual and epileptic." There is perhaps a humorous point in this because the poet’s name is Cingolossa (tongue mover).

OV: The Crying of Lot 49 - 1966, USA

The metaphorical use of the epileptic aura is suggestively elaborated on and becomes the key metaphor in this highly artificial parody of a detective story.

OV: Gravity`s Rainbow - 1973, USA

The perception of an indescribable but apparently familiar smell, "an aura that threatens to go epileptic any second" points to a submerged memory from early childhood; a secret which, if it were disclosed, would be too terrible to survive.

OV: Slow Learner. Early Stories - 1984, USA

In the story "Lowlands", the presentiment of a marital row is compared to the premonition of an epileptic seizure experienced in an aura.

QUENEAU, Raymond

OV: Le dimanche de la vie - 1951, France
EV: The Sunday of Life, 1976

A servant girl has an epileptic seizure; her employers can only find scant reason to sack her and eventually keep her after all.

RANSMAYR, Christoph

OV: Die letzte Welt - 1988, Austria

The "epileptic" boy Battus, who repeatedly has to assure himself of the existence and tangibility of the world, falls victim to the fascination of illusions made by an episcope and is turned to stone.

RICHLER, Mordecai

OV: The Aprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz - 1959, Canada

An apparently eccentric epileptic young man has a car accident while having a seizure and is paralysed from the waist down. From then on he tries to organise a self-help group and edits a magazine for people with epilepsy.

ROTH, Joseph

OV: Hiob. Roman eines einfachen Mannes - 1930, Austria
EV: Job, 2000

In this legend-like novel a misshapen, mentally retarded and epileptic child miraculously turns into a beautiful, elegant, world-famous musician.


OV: Midnight´s Children - 1981, England

A slovenly fortune-teller in Delhi foretells in an ecstatic state the future of the main character and then falls into an epileptic fit.

OV: The Satanic Verses - 1988, England

The false prophet Ayesha, who leads a whole village on a pilgrimage and finally lets herself be drowned in the sea, has the "falling sickness" and is "possessed by the demon of epilepsy".

SAND, George

OV: La mare au diable - 1845, France

The country idyll contains a vividly depicted portrait of a likeable gravedigger, who is probably based on a real person. In spite of his epilepsy he is an important figure in his village as the organiser of celebrations. He dies "tragically" when he realises that he is going to have a fit and in order to spare his relatives from having to see it, hides in the hayloft, from where he falls.

SCHNEBLE, Hansjörg

OV: Das Eigentor oder die Geschichte vom Peter-Guck-in-die-Luft - 1994, Germany

A book with a richness of detailed information about epilepsy which is woven into a children's story.


OV: Schlafes Bruder - 1992, Austria
EV: Brother of Sleep
Tr: Shaun Whiteside

Epilepsy (in this book aptly called the falling sickness) never really becomes a theme, but is one of the many threats and dangers which are always hovering in the background of everyday life in the harsh world of an isolated village in Austria at the beginning of the 19th century.

SCHNURRE, Wolfdietrich

OV: Als Vaters Bart noch rot war - 1958, Germany

The short story "Die Verbündeten" depicts the sympathy and solidarity felt between a teacher and a pupil who both suffer from epilepsy.

SCHUMMEL, Johann Gottlieb

OV: Empfindsame Reisen durch Deutschland - 1772, Deutschland
Excerpts in: "O Lust, allen alles zu sein. Deutsche Modelektüre um 1800", 1991

The main character witnesses a young girl having an epileptic seizure. Deeply moved by the scene, he stands by her and helps her.

SIMENON, Georges

OV: Le haut mal - 1977, France

A young farmer who has epileptic seizures is pushed to his death through the hatch in the granary by his hard-hearted mother-in-law, who pretends that he fell during a seizure.

SPARK, Muriel

OV: The Bachelors - 1960, England

The author says she was inspired to make the empathetic portrayal of a seizure and depict the problems of an epileptic employee after she witnessed someone having a seizure on the street.

SPIEL, Hilde

OV: Der Mann mit der Pelerine - 1985, Austria

The volume contains the short story "Das kleine Weh", written in 1950, which melodramatically describes something which is misleadingly termed "petit mal" and wrongly translated as "Das kleine Weh" ("The Little Hurt").


OV: Mein Hund, meine Frau, mein Leben - 1994, Germany

In this novel, fits of unconsciousness which the protagonist suffered long ago are diagnosed by the episcopal doctor as epilepsy and prevent him from being ordained as a priest. The expression "falliges Weh" ("falling hurt") is used here.


OV: The Princess - 1847/ 51, Englandr

As a result of a curse lying on the family, the prince who tries to win the hand of the princess gets strange seizures, during which he is unable to differentiate between "substance and shadow". "Catalepsy" is given as a diagnosis, but the seizures fit the description of an epileptic "jamais vécu".

THACKERAY, William Makepeace

OV: Vanitiy Fair - 1847/ 48, England

Epilepsy is mentioned three times in passing (twice equated with mental deficiency and once probably confused with apoplexy), reflecting the contemporary beliefs surrounding epilepsy.


OV: Hocus Pocus - 1990, USA

In einem Internat für lernbehinderte Kinder reicher Familien ist "Petit mal" eine der typischen Diagnosen und wird mit einem Satz zutreffend definiert.


OV: Ganz unten - 1985, Germany

In one chapter of the alleged documentary work, the author describes how someone takes part in tests for an anti-epileptic drug. The description contains errors which only a specialist could recognise.

WILDER, Thornton

OV: The Ides of March - 1948, USA

In Wilder's attempt to portray the downfall of Julius Caesar, interpretations of his epileptic seizures play a major role. The descriptions of epilepsy are based almost exclusively on Dostoyevski's self-portrayals.


OV: Herbstmilch - 1984, Germany

The hard life of the poor farmer which Wimschneider herself experienced and depcits here in the style of an oral narration, is made harder by the fact that her son has occasional convulsions ("Fraisen") as a toddler.

WOOD, Barbara

OV: Green City in the Sun - 1988, USA

In a boarding school for children from rich families who have learning difficulties, "petit mal" is one of the typical diagnoses and is accurately and concisely defined.


OV: Ephesiacorum libri V, De amoribus Anthiae et Abrocomae (A.D. Papanikolaou, ed., in Greek)

In this ancient Greek "dime novel" about the most improbable terrible adventures of two lovers, Anthia is sold to a brothel in Syracus and saves herself by pretending to have a convulsion and to have contracted the "sacred disease" after having a frightening experience.


OV: The Firebrand - 1987 - USA

In this retelling of the Trojan War as seen by Cassandra, a priest of Apollo who tries to seduce Cassandra under the mask of the god. He is stricken with the "falling sickness" as a punishment.

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