Sexual Fables

This article accompanies the fable
Vampires in Venice

The only known photograph of Chopin, taken in 1849.

The only known photograph of Chopin, taken in 1849

There are differing views on what disease finally killed Chopin. Was it the tuberculosis or was it something else? One recent theory suggests it was cystic fibrosis (aka mucoviscidosis), which was not diagnosed officially till 1938.

During his last years, Chopin was treated by Dr. Jean Cruveilhier, who also wrote up the (now disappeared) autopsy report. Cruveilhier was considered an expert on TB and, according to other records from the time, he wrote that this was "a disease I have never encountered before." The listed cause of death was said to be heart failure, not TB, for his lungs did not show the substantial ravages that would accompany TB. Chopin’s heart was embalmed and taken to Poland, where the authorities of this century so far have denied requests for a DNA analysis.

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