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Florence NIghtingale


Enviado por   •  6 de Abril de 2015  •  836 Palabras (4 Páginas)  •  146 Visitas

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When Florence Nightingale died, aged 90, in 1910, a female doctor signed the certificate that allowed the event to be recorded and registered. In 1820, the year of Nightingale's birth, there had been no female doctors, no systematic registration of births and deaths and no training institutions for nurses. The lack of any perceived connection between hygiene and disease ensured that mortality rates in crowded, poorly maintained hospitals were high.

Little change had taken place by the time that Nightingale, then in her mid-30s, arrived at Scutari in the Crimea in the autumn of 1854 to take charge of a vast, ramshackle barracks-turned-hospital into which wounded and dying soldiers were being brought at a rate that sometimes exceeded 700 in a single day. No anaesthetic was available for the surgical operations that were performed, unscreened, with saws. Bandages and sheets were in short supply. Following one of her daily visits to the Purveyor's Store, Nightingale reported: "No knives & forks, no spoons, no scissors (for cutting the men's hair, which is literally alive . . .), no basins, no towelling, no Chloride of Lime." Scutari hospital, poetically envisioned by one lady visitor as a night scene from Rembrandt, might more aptly have been compared to a season in hell.

Even Lytton Strachey, an acid-penned early critic of Nightingale's bossiness and what he privately decried as her "tiresome religiosity", admired her heroic reform. Mark Bostridge's masterly study enables us to appreciate the courage with which Nightingale had already defeated the conventional expectations of her parents and the neediness of a possessive sister, Parthenope, to pursue what was regarded by her family and her peers as a thoroughly unsuitable career.

Nightingale's scorn for the privileged life of her own class is nicely caught in her characterisation of the fashionable water cure (to which her family were addicted) as a remedy "for those indefinite diseases which a large income and unbounded leisure are so well calculated to produce". Placed, at an early age, in the power of an evangelical governess, Nightingale never doubted that she had been intended to serve God through active service - and also, whenever He fell behind, as his prompter. "O God, are you sure you are doing all you can for the Bosnians?" she once remonstrated with the Almighty. But an active life was also Nightingale's method of dealing with an aspect of herself that she found troubling and demeaning: from youth, she had been prone to falling into curious states of dreaming trance (a subject upon which Bostridge has disappointingly little to say, beyond the matter of factual record).

Following in the footsteps of Gillian Gill, whose excellent family biography, Nightingales, appeared in 2004, Bostridge draws heavily on a vast collection of

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