Jealousy And Medicine
by Michal Choromanski
It is autumn in Poland, but an unnatural autumn. Upon the city pours a strange storm, hot winds raising the dust, clouds blackening the sky. Through feverish days three persons – a husband, a wife, and a lover – stalk one another, jealously scorching them like the wind. Where is the betrayal happening? Can the informer be believed? They pursue a maddening dance as the storm rises, and their horror, as they know well, will be allayed only by the greater horror of the truth. Widmar, the aging husband; his wife Rebecca, with her enigmatic, byzantine beauty; and the surgeon, Dr. Tamten: these three enact a hallucinated triangle. It is, as Widmar remarks, a question of ethics, the medical variety versus those of ordinary men. In certain circumstances the doctor is permitted to deceive his patient, but how far may the deceit be driven? Under the operating room’s white lights the conflict reaches its climax. Jealousy and Medicine is recognized as the finest novel by one of Poland’s outstanding modern writers. First published in 1932, it pioneered new fictional techniques, particularly in a use of distortion and fragmented time sequence which may have been inspired by modern painting. Jealousy and Medicine won the Polish Academy of Literature Prize and has been translated into fifteen languages. This English version by Eileen Arthurton-Barker marks its first publication in the United States.