Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: George Orwell

  • George Orwell: Obsessed with rats

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Of all the horrors—a rat.”– George Orwell, 1984 It is said that author George Orwell (1903–1950), born Eric Blair, was “obsessed” with rats.1 Rats are mentioned in his novels, essays, diaries, and letters. As he got older, he became more rat-obsessed. He has been called “a kind of literary pied piper dancing…

  • George Orwell: An attempt at a diagnosis

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “It’s better to die violently and not too old…‘natural’ death, almost by definition, means something slow, smelly and painful.”– George Orwell, “How the poor die,” 1946 Many readers of the English author George Orwell (1903–1950) know that he died of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). He wrote Animal Farm, 1984, four other novels, three…

  • The smell of dystopia: Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “It’s a sad commentary on our age that we find Dystopias a lot easier to believe in than Utopias: Utopias we can only imagine, Dystopias we’ve already had.”– Margaret Atwood Brave New World1 is a science fiction novel about a high-tech, controlling dystopia. It is clearly a satire. Nineteen Eighty-Four2 is a…

  • Comments on Dr. James Franklin’s article on George Orwell and the Spanish Civil War

    Stuart Poticha Chicago, Illinois, United States   In 1966 as a young surgeon who had just completed his residency, I was drafted into the United States Army. Following basic training at Fort Sam Houston, I was sent to Vietnam, where I became the Chief of Surgery of the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi. The…

  • William Blake

    JMS PearceHull, England William Blake (1757–1827) (Fig 1) was and still is an enigma. He was born on November 28, 1757, one of seven children to James, a hosier, and Catherine Wright Blake at 28 Broad Street in London.1 He once remarked: “Thank God I never was sent to school / To be Flogd into…

  • Sports and the uneven playing field

    Jayant Radhakrishnan Darien, Illinois, United States   An illustration from Clinical Gynecology Medical and Surgical by Keating JM, Coe, Clark H. Published by Lippincott, Philadelphia in 1895. The illustration is labeled as Masculine pseudo-hermaphroditism but it appears to be of a patient with Persistent Mullerian Duct Syndrome with one discrepancy. Such a patient would not…

  • Somerset Maugham

    JMS Pearce Hull, England I have two professions, not one. Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress; when I get tired of one I spend the night with the other.—Anton Chekov, 1888 As a graduate who abandoned medicine in favor of writing and other careers ranging from poetry to piracy, Somerset Maugham (1874–1965)…

  • Plain Words, or pandemic medical gobbledygook

    JMS PearceHull, England The great essayist and philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626) once said: “Words, when written, crystallize history; their very structure gives permanence to the unchangeable past.” I suggest that the problems posed by writers who fail to convey meaning are not new.1,2 As long ago as 1713 the Scriblerus Club was founded to ridicule…

  • George Orwell and the Spanish Civil War: A brush with death

    James L. FranklinChicago, Illinois, United States Robert Capa’s “The Fallen Soldier” is the iconic photograph of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). The original title was “Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death, Carro Muriano, September 5, 1936.” The photograph captures a Republican soldier at the very moment of his death. Dressed in civilian clothing, a…

  • Mustard: History of the yellow seed

    Carol Sherman Chicago, Illinois, United States Figure 1. The sign from the Mustard Museum. Photo taken by Douglas R. Siefken, August 15, 2019. Provided for this article. The National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin1 describes itself as having over 5,600 mustards. They originate from all fifty states of the United States and from more than…