Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Doctor as a Fictional Character...


The doctor as a Character in literature has always enthused the literati of all ages and in all climes – for their multifarious depictions – from the nefarious to the generous, from the avaricious to the capricious, from the fabulous to the disastrous, from the mischievous to the adventurous – well, you have ‘em all here, giving us the culturati, goody-goody reasons to witness both the Jekylls and the Hydes of a doctor’s persona.

This three-part series on ‘Docs in Lit,’ seeks to throw further light on Docs of all hues and shades!

So it’s basically Doctors all the way!

Dr. Faustus (1588), a play by Christopher Marlowe, is a dramatization of the Faust legend and a masterpiece of Elizabethan playwright Marlowe.

Doctor Faustus (1947), a novel by Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann. Nobel Prize winner Mann wrote this book in the United States, after fleeing both Nazi Germany and Switzerland during World War II. This novel is a fictional return to the Germany Mann left, and an attempt to come to terms with the society that had forced him out.

Doctor Zhivago (1957), a novel by Nobel Laureate Boris Pasternak. The book was refused publication in the USSR, due to its independent-minded stance on the October Revolution.

Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party (1980), is a novel by Graham Greene. This somewhat bleak novel centers on a rich Englishman living in Geneva who gives dinner parties in which he humiliates his guests.

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a novella by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson first published in 1886.

The Country Doctor, a novel by Honoré de Balzac, published in 1833 as Le Médecin de campagne. Dr. Benassis is a compassionate and conscientious physician who ministers to the psychological and spiritual as well as physical needs of the villagers among whom he has chosen to practice medicine. He has been instrumental in transforming the once-impoverished community into a progressive and healthy town.

The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts (1920), written and illustrated by Hugh Lofting, is the first of his Doctor Dolittle books, about a man who learns to talk to animals and becomes their champion around the world.

“Dr. Heidegger's Experiment” is a short story by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, about a doctor who claims to have been sent water from the Fountain of Youth.

Madame Bovary (1856), the debut novel by Gustave Flaubert, is about a doctor’s wife, Emma Bovary, the title character, who has a series of affairs to escape the boredom of her life as a doctor’s wife.

“The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife” is a short story by Ernest Hemingway published in 1925.

Doctor No (1958) is the sixth novel by Ian Fleming, and the first James Bond film.

The Doctor Is Sick (1960) is a novel by Anthony Burgess.

[Flashback to the work: In 1959, while giving a lecture in a Malaya classroom, Burgess collapsed and was flown to a hospital in London for examination and treatment. He was informed by British doctors that he had a brain tumor and would probably be dead within a year. Concerned about his wife’s financial security, Burgess began writing as fast as he could, hoping that his work would make enough profit to support her after his death. One year and five manuscripts later, Burgess was alive in Sussex and continuing to write. Burgess later regarded his collapse as a ‘‘willed collapse out of sheer boredom and frustration’’ and claims to have found the year of his ‘‘death sentence’’ one of exhilaration rather than depression. Certainly it was a year of creative productivity. In 1960 Burgess published The Doctor Is Sick, in which his movement toward fantasy is evident, and The Right to an Answer. In 1961 he published two more novels—Devil of a State and One Hand Clapping, a black comedy about the debilitating effects of television, published under the pseudonym Joseph Kell because his publisher was concerned that the novels would be undervalued if he were to acquire the reputation of being too prolific. The ‘‘Joseph Kell’’ books got few reviews and sold poorly, however, until they were republished under Burgess’s name.

The Abyssinian (2000), the debut novel of Jean-Christophe Rufin, tells of an adventurous doctor in seventeenth-century Cairo who, through a strange turn of events, is ordered on a dangerous diplomatic mission to the king of Abyssinia.

The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman is a 1972 picaresque novel by Angela Carter.

The Doctor's Dilemma (1906) is a problem play by George Bernard Shaw. The play deals with the moral dilemmas created by limited medical resources, and the conflicts between the demands of private medicine as a business and a vocation.

To be contd in Part II...

Source(s)

English Literature by Edward Albert [Revised by J. A. Stone]
History of English Literature, by Legouis and Cazamian
The Routledge History of Literature in English: Britain and Ireland, by Ronald Carter and John McRae
Gale’s Contextual Encyclopedia of World Literature

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