Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Defecting doctors

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 09 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4603
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

For twenty years before the world started to wait for Godot, it had waited for Lefty. The US playwright Clifford Odets (1906-63) wrote his play Waiting for Lefty in 1935, at the height of the great depression. Then, as now, there appeared to be no light at the end of the economic tunnel. Lefty is a union organiser who, like Godot, never arrives.

The short play, which was initially a huge success, is composed of six scenes depicting the travails of people in times of hardship. One scene is set in a hospital, and features the characters of Dr Barnes, the medical director, and Dr Benjamin, a young surgeon.

The latter goes to …

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