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When authors refer to other great works, people, and events, it’s usually not accidental. Put on your super-sleuth hat and figure out why.
Literary and Philosophical References
Alexis Carrel, Man, the Unknown (1.107). Carrel was a French surgeon, biologist, and eugenicist. In Man, the Unknown, published in 1935, Carrel recommends a plan of forced euthanasia to rid society of undesirable members. His ideas were subsequently employed by the Nazis. Man, the Unknown is the book that Dr. Juvenal Urbino is reading right before his death.
Axel Munthe, The Story of San Michele (1.107). Munthe was a Swedish physician and psychiatrist known for his philanthropic and humanitarian work. He often treated the poor for free in his clinics, and advocated the use of euthanasia only in cases where it would prevent a painful death. His biography, The Story of San Michele serves as a counterpoint to Dr. Juvenal's other reading material – Man, the Unknown, by eugenicist Alexis Carrel. What do you think of Dr. Juvenal's choice to read Carrel instead of Munthe on the day of his death?
Dante Alighieri, Inferno. The inscription carved on the bridge leading to the colonial cemetery, Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate, is a quote from Dante's Inferno. It translates, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" (3.15).
"The great novelist" whose father Dr. Juvenal Urbino studies with in Paris is Adrien Proust (3.22).