Tag Archives: integrity

Mates, Susan Onthank. The Good Doctor

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Many of Mates’ characters have experienced some sort of cultural dislocation. In “Theng,” refugees from Cambodia living in Providence, Rhode Island, struggle to maintain their dignity in the face of despair and the bittersweet memories of their former home. In “Shambalileh, ” a Persian woman unable to have children with her American husband, is forced to reexamine her status both as wife and as foreigner. Unifying these incredibly diverse stories is the brave honesty with which the characters confront the tenuousness of their situations. For the most part, they share the tenacity of the woman in “Shambalileh, ” who “with great caution … began to imagine the rest of her life.” The central characters in several stories are doctors, whose candid explorations of the vast moral implications of medical practice make of their lives a sort of psychic battleground between good and evil. In “The Good Doctor,” a doctor torn between her dedication to medicine and her own requirements as a human being – what many of us might call her weaknesses – arrives at an intriguing conclusion. An intern in “Ambulance” risks her own well-being to save the life of a victim of gang violence. The twelve stories in this collection are powerful and durable. The debate between good and evil is so intense that the daily experiences of Mates; characters, transformed and reorganized, become psychic quests. Mates takes us back to the fundamental question that is the fountainhead of all serious fiction: how should we live?

Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Year: 1997
ISBN-10: 0877456127

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Frears, Stephen (dir). Dirty pretty things


Okwe is an illegal Nigerian immigrant leading a hard life and struggling to survive in London’s underground. He works as a hotel receptionist in the night time and as he has a doctor degree he practices some medicine, during the day, in a very odd way. Besides that he must constantly escape from Immigration officers. One day Okwe discovers by chance an illegal scheme of surgeries is being lead by Juan, his boss in the hotel. Juan quickly comes up with a tempting proposal: if Okwe accepts to perform the illegal surgeries he makes a lot of money and gets legalized situation in the U.K. Can Okwe keep his moral values intact?

Producers: Robert Jones, Tracey Seaward
Year: 2002
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Steven Knight

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Eliot, G. Middlemarch

This panoramic work–considered the finest novel in English by many critics–offers a complex look at English provincial life at a crucial historical moment, and, at the same time, dramatizes and explores some of the most potent myths of Victorian literature.

Author:  Eliot, George
Title: Middlemarch
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year:  1998
ISBN: 0192834029

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Viewer Comments:


An incredible book, certainly one of the most sophisticated and finely crafted novels i’ve ever come across. Eliot creates an entire (albeit small) society during the 19th century’s great changes in politics & economics (the emergence of middle class wealth and political liberalism) and also in Science. One of the main characters is Lydgate a Doctor who arrives in Middlemarch full of the spirit of evidence based inquiry acquired from the then pioneers of medicine in Paris. He soon comes in to conflict with traditional practitioners who feel threatened by the new knowledge and science they do not understand.

Cronin, A. The Citadel

This novel by Dr A.J. Cronin (1896-1981) is an excellent entrée into the world of British medicine in the 1920s and `30s, a world in which a character in his 50s can be described as “elderly,” and in which doctors specializing in lung diseases are regularly portrayed cigarette in hand.

Dr Jane Adam HYMS: I have just finished re-reading The Citadel, and it has given me enormous pleasure. I must have been in my early twenties when I first read it, and so – although I thought it was a marvellous read then – I was unaware of just how prophetic it was too, particularly about medical education and training. I also have taken great delight in reading a straightforward and romantic narrative novel (ie a story with a beginning, middle, end); made me realise that these ‘post-modern’ novels are so complex nowadays

Author: Cronin, A.J.
Title: The Citadel
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 1937

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Ibsen, H. An Enemy of the People

Power. Money. Morality. In a tight knit community a shocking discovery comes to light and threatens the lifeblood of the town. Truth and honour are pitched against wild ambition and corruption in Ibsens emotional maelstrom.

Publisher: Faber and Faber
Year: 2008
ISBN: 0571242596

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Viewer Comments:


Catriona Kemp HYMS: Whistle blowing, medical ethics and public health.
The central character, a doctor, is a popular and well regarded figure in his community who investigates and discovers that the new baths to be opened in the town – bringing much needed tourism and money – are actually a health risk being corrupted by the local tannery.
Film versions of it have included Steve McQueen’s penultimate appearance. (Worth seeing just for the size of the beards.) Clips from this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSqHEYrRrm8) along with other versions available on YouTube.

Classic quotes include:

  • the strongest man is the man who stands alone
  • The majority never has right on its side. Never, I say! That is one of these social lies against which an independent, intelligent man must wage war. Who is it that constitute the majority of the population in a country? Is it the clever folk, or the stupid? I don’t imagine you will dispute the fact that at present the stupid people are in an absolutely overwhelming majority all the world over. But, good Lord!—you can never pretend that it is right that the stupid folk should govern the clever ones I (Uproar and cries.) Oh, yes—you can shout me down, I know! But you cannot answer me. The  majority has might on its side—unfortunately; but right it has not. I am in the right—I and a few other scattered individuals. The minority is always in the right.”
  • What sort of truths are they that the majority usually supports? They are truths that are of such advanced age that they are beginning to break up. And if a truth is as old as that, it is also in a fair way to become a lie, gentlemen. (Laughter and mocking cries.) Yes, believe me or not, as you like; but truths are by no means as long-lived at Methuselah—as some folk imagine. A normally constituted truth lives, let us say, as a rule seventeen or eighteen, or at most twenty years—seldom longer. But truths as aged as that are always worn frightfully thin, and nevertheless it is only then that the majority recognises them and recommends them to the community as wholesome moral nourishment. There is no great nutritive value in that sort of fare, I can assure you; and, as a doctor, I ought to know. These “majority truths” are like last year’s cured meat—like rancid, tainted ham; and they are the origin of the moral scurvy that is rampant in our communities.

Full text available from project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2446 (source of quotes above).

Kaufman, Philip (dir). The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Tomas is a doctor and a lady-killer in 1960s Czechoslovakia, an apolitical man who is struck with love for the bookish country girl Tereza; his more sophisticated sometime lover Sabina eventually accepts their relationship and the two women form an electric friendship. The three are caught up in the events of the Prague Spring (1968), until the Soviet tanks crush the non-violent rebels; their illusions are shattered and their lives change forever.

Producer: Bertil Ohlsson, Paul Zaentz, Saul Zaentz
Year: 1988
Director: Philip Kaufman
Writers: Jean-Claude Carrière, Philip Kaufman

Figes, Orlando. The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia

Janine Henderson HYMS: “Very engaging account of the personal lives of Soviet citizens during the Stalin years; because it is written around snapshots of ordinary people`s lives, the immediate effects of the Stalin regime are much more apparent than a dry political account would achieve.
Another interesting back story though…google Orlando Figes, the author. He was caught in a lie, savagely criticising the works of fellow authors under a pseudonym, challenged, denied it, blamed his wife and then finally admitting it….interesting lessons inprobity!”

Publisher: Allen Lane;
Year: 2007
ISBN-10: 9780713997026