Literary Vignettes | Hektoen International

Mean dudes and mean deeds: Tarantino’s vision

Bernardo Ng San Diego, California, United States (Summer 2014)     Cinema as an educational method for psychiatric trainees, medical students, and other mental health specialists has been successfully used for decades. Films portray mental illness and mental health problems in a variety of ways. Watching a film can be useful when learning to examine […]

The illusion of rainbows

Bryant Phan Palo Alto, California, United States (Fall 2014)   The street lamps in my neighborhood flicker in Technicolor before shutting off. A glimmer of orange surrounding the houses outside the window catches my eye. The outline of each house turns grey before imprinting a series of geometrical shapes in the back of my mind. […]

All life is a gift

“I am tired,” said Mr. Hale. “I’m fifty-five years of age, and that little fact of itself accounts for any loss of strength.” “Nonsense! I’m upward of sixty and feel no strength, either bodily or mental. Don’t let me hear you talking so. Fifty-five! Why, you’re quite a young man.” Elisabeth Gaskell, North and South, […]

The doctor’s revenge in Jules Verne’s Mathias Sandorf

Mathias Sandorf Illustrated by Léon Benett Dr. Antekirtt is immensely clever and immensely rich. He owns an island off the coast of Libya and has surrounded it with tall ramparts to make it impregnable. He employs a large retinue of attendants and has agents and spies in many countries. His fast electric ships crisscross the […]

Edgar Allen Poe and The Masque of the Red Death

The Masque of the Red Death by Abigail Larson The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with […]

The real Monte Cristo

Général Alexandre Dumas, XIXesiècle Olivier Pichat Musée Alexandre Dumas, Villers-Cotterëts The father of Alexandre Dumas (Père), famous author of The Count of Monte Cristo and of The Three Musketeers, was the son of a French nobleman and a black Caribbean slave. During the turmoil of the French Revolution, Alex Dumas, for that was the name […]

Gulliver’s visit to the Academy of Lagado

When Lemuel Gulliver left his beloved wife and children in August 1706 to undertake a sea voyage to the East Indies, his ship was boarded by pirates who set him adrift in a small canoe with only four days’ provisions. By skillful navigation he managed to land in the country of Balnibarbi and was able […]

Madame Bovary: The clubfoot operation

Charles Bovary is a country medical practitioner, mediocre, a simple man, not the brightest, but not unambitious. He reads that a simple tendon cutting operation could cure the village stable boy’s club foot, perhaps also bringing recognition to himself and celebrity to the village. At night he studies, trying to work things out. Is it […]

Doctor in the House

Poster for the film Doctor in the House, 1955 How strange and distant the world of Doctor in the House must appear to the present day generation. It was a world in which medical students purchased skeletons, not laptops; microscopes, not handhelds. They smelled of formaldehyde, dissected cadavers, and performed autopsies. To survive they washed […]

The physician in spite of himself

Image from Le Médecin Malgré Lui Le Médecin Malgré Lui (The Physician in Spite of Himself) is written by the French playwright Molière (1622-1673). In the play, Martine, recently beaten by her husband, seeks revenge by convincing two servants (who are seeking a doctor for their master’s daughter) that her husband Sganarelle is a great […]