Definitions

burnt-out

A Burnt-Out Case

A Burnt-Out Case (1960) is a novel by English author Graham Greene.

Plot summary

The plot concerns Querry, a world-famous architect, who is the victim of a terrible attack of indifference, he no longer finds meaning in art or pleasure in life. Arriving anonymously at a Congo leper village, he is diagnosed - by Dr Colin, the resident doctor - as the mental equivalent of a 'burnt-out case', a leper who has gone through a stage of mutilation - see quotation below. However, Querry loses himself in working for the lepers, his disease of mind slowly approaches a cure. Then the white community finds out who Querry is...

'Perhaps Querry is also a patient,' Colin said.
'That's nonsense. I was thinking of the lepers - you have always dreamt of a school for rehabilitation, haven't you, if you could get the funds. For those poor burnt-out cases of yours.'
'Querry may also be a burnt-out case,' the doctor said. He looked at the fat man in the chair. 'Where now will he be able to find his therapy? Limelight is not very good for the mutilated.'

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