The Book about Blanche and Marie by Per Olov Enquist
Reviewed by Per Olov Enquist
Washington Post Book World
"Women's intellectual history is rich in ironies, but this is a particularly strange one: In Paris, at the turn of the 20th century, a visionary Polish scientist had just discovered a peculiar new radioactive substance, for which she became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. Her laboratory assistant was a former inmate of the city's infamous Salpetriere Hospital — the star subject of some of the most ignorant experiments ever performed on women in the name of science, conducted by male doctors seeking the cause and cure for hysteria. The first woman, of course, was Marie Curie. What we know about the second, whose name was Blanche Wittman, occupies — in the words of Swedish playwright, poet and novelist Per Olov Enquist — just 'a paragraph in the history of medicine.'" Read the entire Washington Post Book World review.