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Sunday 6 July 2014

Knock oder Triumph der Medizin and András Pető

Knock oder Triumph der Medizin and András Pető

I expect that anyone else who has read András Pető’s  Unfug der Krankheit- Triumph der Heilkunst and also sat in the audience to watch Knock oder Der Triumph der Medizin would also have been quietly smiling and wondering whether there is some connection to be made, just as I was.

It helps also to be familiar with the Austro-German sanatorium system of healing and prevention as I am. I have lived here in Germany for a long time so I have had connections through my work and personal life to several sanatoriums (cure clinics) and I have read about András Pető’s life – much of his working life was spent in various cure clinics or sanatoriums.

As I said to a friend just after the theatre visit I cannot put my finger on just what it was that made me quietly smile to myself during the theatre production about Dr Knock, but I certainly began to ponder on what connections could be made with AP after I had heard the word charlatan spoken several times.

The play by Jules Romains was first performed in 1923. In the afterword to the Reclam copy of the play it says that when it was premiered it opened up to discussion a lot of themes and ideas of the day making a satiric comment on the popularity of alternative medicine. During the play one sees some of the alternatives in action that András Pető listed and wrote about in his book.

Under his many pseudonyms András Pető wrote two books and several articles for medical journals where he often mentioned methods that would then, and now, have been considered alternative – even here in Germany and Austria.

Dr Knock, in the play I watched two weeks, ago was considered to be a charlatan although he was practicing methods that are still used alternatively these days. András Pető has also been described by people who knew him, maybe even by some who did not, as a charlatan too.

Although I was enjoying bits-in-between for conductors at the local theatre my mind was still occupied by András Pető, trying to fit him in with what was happening in the world around him during his life-time. And do not forget, András Pető also wrote plays, some of them with a medical theme.


András Pető Unfug der Krankheit- Triumph der Heilkunst, Dr. med. Karl Otto Barnklau, Karl Schustek, Hanau/Main

Jules RomainsKnock oder Der Triumph der Medizin, Reclam

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