(2) The terms 'consumption' and 'laphtisie' (or 'phthisic
") can refer to a range ofwasting illnesses, many of which were difficult to differentiate from tuberculosis in the nineteenth century.
Larynx no longer in diapason, Lungs in phthisic
: sputum in cicada sound.
Later, one character is described as "thin as a rail and as wan as a brown girl could get, like an Edgar Allan Poe lady, phthisic
perhaps, to use an obsolete word that Legion's lost novelist friend, Clayton Supul, often used to describe the appearance of tubercular people" (293).
There, the narrator relates how Eugene's father, as a 15-year-old boy, "had walked along a street in Baltimore, and seen within a little shop smooth granite slabs of death, carved lambs and cherubim, and an angel poised upon cold phthisic
feet, with a smile of soft stone idiocy....
His mind is also immediately filled with a range of images and thoughts that capture both the dread of having to interact with this man and the desire to leave everything in his hands[.] (88-89) Laderman then quotes from Wolfe's physical description of Horse Hines, including his "cold phthisic
hand, freckled on its back," and he relates some of Eugene's morbid thoughts on the "awful mysteries of burial--the dark ghoul-ritual, the obscene communion with the dead, touched with some black and foul witch-magic." Eugene also wonders "Where is the can in which they throw the parts?
About the only authentic Wolfean touch is the plot-thickening use of the word "phthisic
" in the journal, likely one of the few appearances of that word in a novel since Look Homeward, Angel.