They wander off in twos and threes, and they have become curiously silent. Some have dragged out pipes from their pockets, and are filling them absently. One is whistling an incoherent fragment of a tune. They look towards the horizon and perhaps see nothing but the barren veldt, or perhaps they see a familiar village in England, and within a cottage in the small street the figure of a woman with her face buried in her hands.
Last week I completed my index to Joanne Vigor’s new biography of Joseph Merrick, the ‘Elephant Man’. It’s an interesting book that digs into Merrick’s family history and early years in Leicester, and examines especially the relationship between Merrick and the London surgeon Frederick Treves, who began by photographing and examining Merrick as a medical specimen and ended up inviting him to his Wimpole Street home.
As well as his reminiscences on the Elephant Man, Treves authored several medical textbooks, volumes of travel writing, and an account of his experiences treating the wounded at a travelling field hospital in South Africa during the Second Boer War. I’ve been reading his ‘The Tale of a Field Hospital’ (1900) which consists of thirty short, sombre essays. They are excellent: here he is describing a group of soldiers pretending indifference at the funeral of their fallen comrades:
David A. Green is a freelance indexer living in Petersfield, Hampshire.
The Indexed Word
Random thoughts about books, indexes, and book indexing.