Home > Uncategorized > Frigyes Karinthy: Lost his mind on the battlefield, thought he knew what he was fighting for

Frigyes Karinthy: Lost his mind on the battlefield, thought he knew what he was fighting for


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Frigyes Karinthy: Started war of self-defense by attacking neighbor


Frigyes Karinthy
From Voyage to Faremido
Gulliver’s Fifth Voyage (1916)
Translated by Paul Tabori


At the beginning of the war our ship was not engaged in any fighting. We took on board some wounded off the French coast and transported them to England. As a surgeon, I consequently acquired extremely interesting and useful experience. I think I can speak for all my colleagues when I state that there is nothing more conducive to the development of the fine art of surgery than a modern war which provides with its innumerable weapons, machine-guns, hand-grenades, mortars, fragmentation bombs, dum-dum bullets and poisoned darts medical cases, each more interesting than the other, each new and individual and all contributing to the instruction and enlightenment of any industrious surgeon. In this instance alone I met with no less than thirty-four unusual external and internal fatal injuries and diseases which had never figured before in any medical encyclopaedia, and I can claim without any false modesty that my notes and records made a considerable contribution to medical science. There were broken bones, shattered livers, extruded intestines and gouged-out eyes. There was a man whose face and chest had swollen to a barrel’s dimensions because his windpipe had been transfixed by a bullet, and the air penetrated half into his lungs and half under his skin; and another whose left arm had withered because a shell splinter had destroyed the artery of his right shoulder. There was no dearth of bullet, cut and stab wounds; and there were several cases of considerable physiological importance, demonstrating the amazing strength of the human jaw when the area around the neck muscles is damaged. Though, strictly speaking, it was not my special field, I also noted some interesting neuro-pathological case-histories. For instance, one of my patients was a Japanese soldier (for, as we all know, we called in the Japanese to help us save European culture) who had lost his mind on the battle-field – he had the fixed idea that he knew what he was fighting for.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. rosemerry
    October 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    What a marvellous piece! It needs to be read by so many of our “leaders”.

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