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January 7, 1998

Interpreting Art and Poetry in JAMA: In the Eye of the Beholder—Reply

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;279(1):19-20. doi:10.1001/jama.279.1.17

In Reply.—The 2 poems about which Dr Wayne expresses concern are part of a series of poems that depict physician characters from the stories and plays of Anton Chekhov. In a tale called "An Awkward Business,"1 Ovchinnikov is a district physician who becomes so angry at the ineptness of his drunken assistant that he punches the man in the face. Afterward, he questions his own character, reflecting on the class distinctions in Russian society that allow him to lord it over his assistant. In "The Princess,"2 Mikhail Ivanovitch is an older physician who meets his former employer, the princess, as she is leaving the monastery, having completed her annual spiritual retreat. He spews forth his anger at her vanity and hypocrisy, realizing, of course, that had he been willing to put up with her meanness and continued to work for her, he would be much better off financially.