Philip Larkin’s Myxomatosis and the Problem of Empathy

  • Michael D. Shulman none

Abstract

Philip Larkin's well-known poem Myxomatosis records the poet's disturbing encounter with a rabbit dying of a disfiguring viral illness introduced into the wild as a measure of pest control. The poet's response to this experience reveals the complex nature of empathy, which has been described in the psychological literature as eliciting behavior far removed from the tenderness we associate with sympathy and the ministrations of medical professionals.

Author Biography

Michael D. Shulman, none
I have received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Fordham University and a medical degree from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsyvania.  I am a nephrologist in private practice.

References

Booth, James. Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love by James Booth. London:Bloomsbury, 2014.

Vendler H. Why aren’t they screaming? London Review of Books. 2014;36(Nov 6):18-22.

Motion, A. Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life. NY: Farrar Straus Giroux,1993, p 459.

Villafuerte R, Castro F, Ramirez E, Cotilla I et al. Large-scale assessment of myxomatosis prevalence in European wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) 60 years after first outbreak in Spain. Research Vet Sci. 2017;114:281–286.

Chaproniere DM & Andrewes CH. Cultivation of rabbit myxoma and fibroma viruses in non-susceptible hosts. Virology. 1957;4:351-365.

Bartrip PWJ. Twentieth Century British History. 2008;19(1):83–105.

Bloom P. Against empathy: The case for rational compassion. Random House, 2017.

de Waal, F. Our Inner Ape:A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We are Who We Are. 2005. NY: The Berkley Publishing Group, p 184.

Published
2018-10-11