Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Six terrifying doctor-villains in fiction

Caroline Louise Walker grew up in Rock Island, Illinois. For her fiction and nonfiction, she has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The Kerouac Project, Jentel Arts and Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences. She holds an MA from NYU.

Man of the Year is Walker's first novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged six medical men with terrible designs, including:
DR. HENRY JEKYLL from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Lewis Stevenson

Maybe we ask too much of our doctors: to be skilled and brilliant, with gentle bedside manner, and also to be upstanding citizens, strong of heart, guided by an infallible moral compass. No one is perfect. Dr. Jekyll hosts darkness, as do we all, but he is unable to hold his darkness alongside the light.. He divides his identity into all good or all bad, a splitting (as with Borderline Personality Disorder) turned inward. His desire to suppress his shadow side is so colossal, so consuming, that it all but ensures Hyde’s vitality.

For Jekyll, Hyde is the embodiment of Poe’s “Imp of the Perverse”—the backlash of an all-consuming desire to snuff out our ugliest impulses, thoughts, or desires. There is no intermediary between id and superego, no integration of his shadow side. He terrifies himself. And yet, as Settembrini tells rest-cure devotee Hans Castorp, in and on The Magic Mountain: “Fear and euphoria aren’t mutually exclusive.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also appears on Robert Masello's list of six classic stories with supernatural crimes at their center, J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison's list of eleven top vile villains in fiction, Chris Howard's top five list of addictive books featuring sci-fi drugs, Steve Toutonghi's list of six top books that expand our mental horizons, Irvine Welsh's list of six favorite books that explore human duality, the Huffington Post's list of classic works that are all under 200 pages, Koren Zailckas's top 11 list of favorite evil characters, Stuart Evers's list of the top ten homes in literature, H.M. Castor's top ten list of dark and haunted heroes and heroines and John Mullan's list of ten of the best butlers in literature, and among Yann Martel's six favorite books. It is one of Ali Shaw's top ten transformation stories and Nicholas Frankel's five best pieces of decadent writing from the nineteenth century.

--Marshal Zeringue