Monday, 9 February 2015


Another doctor who created something else
Two doctors: compare and contrast

Conductor Susie Mallett has blogged on what she is currently reading:

It is interesting that the apparently medical books that she enjoys are (whether consciously on the authors' part or not) firmly in the tradition of what A.R. Luriya called 'romantic science'. There is an important lesson there for what is called Conductive Education.


Her inclusion of A. P. Chekhov I found most instructive. This particular AP was a doctor, yet one never hears of him refereed to as 'Dr Chekhov', or 'Anton Chekhov MD', even though he worked as a doctor for most of his adult life.

So why not? He seems to have been a hard-working and dedicated physician but it is not his achievements in his day job that are celebrated as outstanding down across the generations. It was the fruits his other job that has resounded down from the late-nineteenth century, across the twentieth and into the twenty-first century.

Around the world and in many languages readers, actors, directors and audiences have revered him, and still do, because of this other career, for the stories and his plays that he wrote. Serious students of his work will know that there is often a doctor amongst his characters, and there there are critical essays can be written on such minor themes*, but that's about it. For most people it is what A. P. Chekhov created as a writer that is the most important reason by far for knowing about him and what he says of the human condition.

András Pető

There is a strand in Conductive Education that tries to present András Pető as a medical person, a doctor, a neurologist, a scientist even, and a professor to boot. I do not know why people do this. Perhaps they think that this somehow confers status which, apart from showing a frightening lack of understanding of the nature of education and what it holds dear, also reveals a sad disrespect for what appears to have been a central theme of András Pető's later career, to extract motor disorders from the hands of the doctors.
* Don't I know it! I studied Russian Language and Literature for four years at university.


Mallett, D. (2015) Reading, Conductor, 9 February

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