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A Country Doctor's Notebook (Vintage Classics)

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TRANSLATED BY MICHAEL GLENNY With the ink still wet on his diploma, the twenty-five-year-old Dr Mikhail Bulgakov was flung into the depths of rural Russia which, in 1916-17, was still largely unaffected by such novelties as the motor car, the telephone or electric light. How his alter-ego copes (or fails to cope) with the new and often appalling responsibilities of a lo TRANSLATED BY MICHAEL GLENNY With the ink still wet on his diploma, the twenty-five-year-old Dr Mikhail Bulgakov was flung into the depths of rural Russia which, in 1916-17, was still largely unaffected by such novelties as the motor car, the telephone or electric light. How his alter-ego copes (or fails to cope) with the new and often appalling responsibilities of a lone doctor in a vast country practice - on the eve of Revolution - is described in Bulgakov's delightful blend of candid realism and imaginative exuberance.


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TRANSLATED BY MICHAEL GLENNY With the ink still wet on his diploma, the twenty-five-year-old Dr Mikhail Bulgakov was flung into the depths of rural Russia which, in 1916-17, was still largely unaffected by such novelties as the motor car, the telephone or electric light. How his alter-ego copes (or fails to cope) with the new and often appalling responsibilities of a lo TRANSLATED BY MICHAEL GLENNY With the ink still wet on his diploma, the twenty-five-year-old Dr Mikhail Bulgakov was flung into the depths of rural Russia which, in 1916-17, was still largely unaffected by such novelties as the motor car, the telephone or electric light. How his alter-ego copes (or fails to cope) with the new and often appalling responsibilities of a lone doctor in a vast country practice - on the eve of Revolution - is described in Bulgakov's delightful blend of candid realism and imaginative exuberance.

30 review for A Country Doctor's Notebook (Vintage Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Записки юного врача = Zapiski yonogo vracha = A Country Doctor's Notebook = A Young Doctor's Notebook, Mikhail Bulgakov A Young Doctor's Notebook "A Young Doctor's Notes", also known as A Country Doctor's Notebook, is a short story collection by the Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov. The stories were written in the 1920s and inspired by Bulgakov's experiences as a newly graduated young doctor in 1916-18, practicing in a small village hospital in Smolensk Governorate in revolutionary Russia. Storie Записки юного врача = Zapiski yonogo vracha = A Country Doctor's Notebook = A Young Doctor's Notebook, Mikhail Bulgakov A Young Doctor's Notebook "A Young Doctor's Notes", also known as A Country Doctor's Notebook, is a short story collection by the Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov. The stories were written in the 1920s and inspired by Bulgakov's experiences as a newly graduated young doctor in 1916-18, practicing in a small village hospital in Smolensk Governorate in revolutionary Russia. Stories: The Embroidered Towel The Steel Windpipe Black as Egypt's Night Baptism by Rotation The Speckled Rash The Blizzard The Vanishing Eye Morphine The Murderer The Hugh Aplin translation also includes the short story "Morphine" but does not include "The Murderer". تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هشتم ماه آوریل سال 2012میلادی عنوان: یادداشت‌های یک پزشک جوان؛ نویسنده: میخاییل بولگاگوف؛ مترجم: آبتین گلکار؛ تهران، ماهی، 1391؛ در 209ص و 4ص؛ شابک 9789642091126؛ چاپ دوم 1392؛ چاپ سوم 1393؛ چاپ چهارم و پنجم 1395، چاپ ششم 1396؛ چاپ هفتم و هشتم 1397؛ موضوع داستانهای کوتاه از نویسندگان روسیه - سده 20م داستانهآ: «حوله دوزی شده»، «توربین فولادی»، «سیاه به عنوان شب مصر»، «تعمید با چرخش»، «راش پوستی»، «بلیزاد»، «چشم نابینا»، «مورفین»، «قاتل»؛ این کتاب «میخاییل بولگاکوف» نیز، خالی از لطف نیست؛ این پزشک، آثاری همچون «دل سگ (قلب سگی)» و «مرشد و مارگاریتا» را، در کارنامه ی خویاش دارند، ایشان مجموعه داستانهای «یادداشتهای یک پزشک جوان» را بر بنیاد یادمانهای دوران خدمت خود در روستای دورافتاده ی «نیکولسکویه»، در ایالت «اسمولنسک» بنگاشته است؛ رخدادهای داستان در دوروبر سالهای انقلاب روسیه (در سال 1917میلادی) رخ میدهند؛ با اینحال همچنانکه از یک روستای دورافتاده میتوان چشم داشت، آشوبهای انقلابی در این کتاب هیچ نشان و نمودی ندارند؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 30/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nataliya

    "I am a doctor, thrown straight from the university bench into a far away village, in the beginning of the revolution."¹ ¹ EXTRA! EXTRA! Now to be translated to a small screen featuring Daniel Radcliffe. And it will be "a new black comedy". I kid you not. I'm still trying to decide how I feel about it.Mikhail Bulgakov, the amazing Russian writer of The Master and Margarita fame, was a medical doctor by training. Just like the young protagonist of his semi-autobiographical collection of short stor "I am a doctor, thrown straight from the university bench into a far away village, in the beginning of the revolution."¹ ¹ EXTRA! EXTRA! Now to be translated to a small screen featuring Daniel Radcliffe. And it will be "a new black comedy". I kid you not. I'm still trying to decide how I feel about it.Mikhail Bulgakov, the amazing Russian writer of The Master and Margarita fame, was a medical doctor by training. Just like the young protagonist of his semi-autobiographical collection of short stories The Notes of a Young Doctor (translated as A Country Doctor's Notebook), he has spent the time of his internship in a country hospital in the middle of nowhere, having to deal with insane patient volume, confusing diagnoses, and plain human stubbornness and stupidity that can make any medical professional's life a living hell. And what amazed me is that so many of these things are still present even in our sophisticated modern-day medicine. Some things never change, do they?" We are cut off from people. The first gas lights are nine miles away at the railroad station [...] A train to Moscow would rush by with a whistle without stopping - it does not need a God-forsaken station lost in the blizzard [...] We are alone here."A Country Doctor's Notebook describes the 'highlights' of the internship time of a brand-new young medical graduate Dr. Bomgard, sent straight from the medical university in Russia in the winter of 1917 to be the only doctor in a provincial hospital (the staff there consisting of a couple of nurses and a pharmacist) without any supervision or backup - save for quite a few medical textbooks and brand-new medical knowledge that he brought with him. This gives quite a new meaning to the whole 'thrown in at the deep end' phrase, doesn't it?"Well, and what if they bring in a woman in a complicated labor? Or, let's say, a patient with a strangulated hernia? What am I supposed to do then? Please, kindly tell me. Forty-eight days ago I graduated with high distinction, but distinction is one thing and hernia is another. Once I saw my professor operate on the strangulated hernia. He was doing it, and I was sitting in the audience, watching him. And that's it. I felt cold sweat running along my spinal column when I thought about hernias. Every night I sat in the same pose, having drank tea: on my left side, I had all the manuals on operative gynecology, with Dodelein's atlas on top. And on my right - ten different illustrated surgical manuals."Some of the situations seem almost surreal in their severity and grave danger. Picture a young doctor having to perform a maneuver to turn a malpositioned fetus in the mother's womb to save two lives - and never having done this procedure before, flipping through the pages of the textbook minutes before the surgery to figure out what the hell he is supposed to do. Imagine him performing a tracheostomy (surgically opening a throat to enable breathing) on a small dying child with diphtheria while her frantic mother is waiting outside. Think about discovering that your seemingly intelligent patient has taken his entire course of medications all at once (to speed up the healing process, apparently) and now is almost dying in front of your eyes. Imagine the entire villages infected with syphilis without having any idea about the disease or its severity, and abandoning life-saving treatment halfway through at the earliest signs of improvement. Think about realizing that your colleague has fallen prey to the deadly morphine addiction, painstakingly documenting the horrific mental and physical destruction (by the way, probably one of the earliest realistic portrayals of narcotic addiction in fiction, and based on personal experience with the drug, no less)."I felt defeated, broken, flattened by the cruel fate. Fate threw me into this wilderness and made me fight my battles alone, without any support or instruction. What unbelievable difficulties I have to suffer through. They can bring in any strange or difficult case, most often a surgical case, and I have to face it, with my unshaven face, and win. And if you don't win, then you have to suffer and torture yourself - like now, riding along a bumpy country road, leaving behind an infant's little corpse and his mother."The young doctor's patients are poor peasants - illiterate, superstitious, ignorant of their diseases, frustratingly suspicious of surgeries and other "out there" treatments. After building up a favorable reputation after a miraculous life-saving amputation on day one, the doctor ends up seeing over a hundred patients daily (that's in addition to the hospitalized patients), often having almost no time to sleep, and often still having to make a house call to a woman dying in labor or a patient too sick to be transported to the hospital, often riding miles in miles in the middle of Russian winter blizzard."After that, I started seeing about a hundred peasants a day. I stopped eating dinners. Mathematics is a cruel science. Let's imagine that I was spending only five minutes - five! - with every one of my hundred patients. Five hundred minutes - eight hours and twenty minutes. All in a row, please note that. And besides that I had a hospital ward for thirty patients. And in addition to that, I was still performing surgeries." The young doctor/ Bulgakov's alter ego laments the ignorance of his patients that endangers their lives and the lives of their loved ones, facilitates the spread of diseases, and causes harm and grief. And yet, so unlike the doctor stereotype of that long-gone era he exhibits astounding patience and perseverance, fighting the uphill battle and actually succeeding with every life saved, every disaster averted. These stories are often sad but at the same time life-affirming. And I happily give this book about my colleague almost a hundred years ago, facing similar problems that we encounter even in modern medicine, five well-earned stars."In a bout of inspiration, I opened a clinic patient roster and began counting. I counted for an hour. In a year I have seen 15,613 patients, I had 200 hospitalized patients, and only six died."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    The title of A Country Doctor’s Notebook tells everything about the subject of the book… How does it feel when a young doctor – an absolute greenhorn – just after the university in the capital city finds himself in the sticks where everything depends on him? Where has the world disappeared to today, my birthday? Where, oh where are the electric lights of Moscow? Where are the people, where is the sky? I look out of my windows at nothing but darkness… We are cut off; the nearest kerosene lanterns ar The title of A Country Doctor’s Notebook tells everything about the subject of the book… How does it feel when a young doctor – an absolute greenhorn – just after the university in the capital city finds himself in the sticks where everything depends on him? Where has the world disappeared to today, my birthday? Where, oh where are the electric lights of Moscow? Where are the people, where is the sky? I look out of my windows at nothing but darkness… We are cut off; the nearest kerosene lanterns are seven miles away at the railway station, and even their flickering light has probably been blown out by the snowstorm. The midnight express to Moscow rushes moaning past and does not even stop; it has no need of this forlorn little halt, buried in snow – except perhaps when the line is blocked by drifts. The nearest street lamps are thirty-two miles away in the district town. Life there is sweet: it has a cinema, shops. While the snow is whirling and howling out here in the open country, there on the screen, no doubt, the cane-brake is bending to the breeze and palm trees sway as a tropical island comes into view… Meanwhile we are alone. ‘Black as Egypt’s night,’ observed Demyan Lukich, as he raised the blind. His remarks are somewhat solemn but apt. Egyptian is the word for it. In spite of his inexperience, the doctor boldly faces ailments and traumas and his will helps him to surmount the obstacles and to become more professional and skillfu… And he even manages to fight the endemic ignorance of the locals. And now a whole year has passed. While it lasted it seemed endlessly varied, multifarious, complex and terrible, although I now realise that it has flown by like a hurricane. I stare into the mirror and see the traces that it has left on my face. There is more severity and anxiety in my eyes, the mouth is more confident and manly, while the vertical wrinkle between my eyebrows will remain for a lifetime – as long, in fact, as my memories. I can see them as I look in the mirror, chasing each other in headlong succession. And Morphine is a story about a young life ruined by drug addiction. A man of a strong willpower hardships make stronger and a man of a weak willpower they destroy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Written between 1924 and 1927, these short stories are a mile away his most famous novel 'The Master and Margarita', here instead adopting a raw, realistic account of his experiences as a 24 year-old doctor in remote north-west Russia, where he was put in charge of a small hospital and left to get on with it, sometimes in conditions that were dreadful. Isolation is a big thing running through the book, the distance from civilised society weighs heavily on the soul. Alone at night in his study, w Written between 1924 and 1927, these short stories are a mile away his most famous novel 'The Master and Margarita', here instead adopting a raw, realistic account of his experiences as a 24 year-old doctor in remote north-west Russia, where he was put in charge of a small hospital and left to get on with it, sometimes in conditions that were dreadful. Isolation is a big thing running through the book, the distance from civilised society weighs heavily on the soul. Alone at night in his study, with only his oil lamp for comfort, he reflects: "The midnight express to Moscow rushes moaning past and does not even stop... The nearest street lamps are 32 miles away in the district town." This is a world of grinding hardship and violent contrasts, induced warmth, the bitterly cold wilderness outside; months of darkness that drags on with just the fragile light of the kerosene lamp for company. The brutal, impersonal force of the physical world not only endangers his patients, but threatens to extinguish the metaphorical light of reason, knowledge and social progress. At first, Bulgakov's "university-trained" mind is his sole weapon against the ignorance, cunning and superstition of the peasants, but as the months pass, he grows increasingly cunning himself, learns to outwit their objections with displays of confidence he does not feel and knowledge he does not always possess. Bulgakov casts a wry, self-deprecating humour. What shines through in Bulgakov’s hero is that this worry, although at times exhausting for the doctor, has a flip side. It’s what makes him so good at his job. It is what helps him to learn, bestows him with compassion for his patients, brings him satisfaction when the sick recover. For Bulgakov, the anxiety experienced by this doctor is not necessarily something to be “cured” as much as managed and even, at times, celebrated. His compassion for human folly is unfailing, and he nails his own foibles as unflinchingly as everyone else's. A country doctors's Notebook stands testament both to human resilience and a remarkable literary talent. Along with 'The White Guard', this is Bulgakov getting deep down in real life situations of his time. He definitely belongs up there with the great 20th century writers.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Guna

    If you watched A Young Doctor's Notebook with Daniel Radcliffe and decided to read the original stories (like me), and were expecting a rather comical representation of a Russian hospital tucked away deep in the countryside (like me), a bit of a surprise awaits you. That is, while the adaption was very enjoyable, Bulgakov's stories are even better (not that hard to believe, though). They are not particularly funny (which one would expect based on the mini-series), but there is a strong element o If you watched A Young Doctor's Notebook with Daniel Radcliffe and decided to read the original stories (like me), and were expecting a rather comical representation of a Russian hospital tucked away deep in the countryside (like me), a bit of a surprise awaits you. That is, while the adaption was very enjoyable, Bulgakov's stories are even better (not that hard to believe, though). They are not particularly funny (which one would expect based on the mini-series), but there is a strong element of tragicomedy which managed to squeeze a laugh out of me at times. The stories can get rather nasty and disgusting (reading about pus and syphilis is no rainbows and butterflies), and the stubbornness and stupidity of people can be baffling (but that hasn't changed now, has it), and the overall picture is not very, ehm, promising, but it's a great read in a thank-god-i-wasnt-there way. All this symphony ends on a powerful note. Morphine...wow. It puts all the other feeble attempts to describe drug addiction to shame. Impressive and rather disturbing. I just wish my Russian skills wouldn't the same as a two-year-old's, so that I could enjoy this in the original.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lynne King

    This is an utterly inspiring book. There is something that is so splendid about Russian authors. I don't know whether it is the awful weather, perhaps even the politics and the oppressive society but the works on the whole are excellent. I'm presuming that this book of nine short stories is autobiographical as Mikhail Bulgakov was actually a doctor but gave up the practice after four years at the age of twenty-nine to embrace a life of literature. The nine short stories are dark, chilling weather This is an utterly inspiring book. There is something that is so splendid about Russian authors. I don't know whether it is the awful weather, perhaps even the politics and the oppressive society but the works on the whole are excellent. I'm presuming that this book of nine short stories is autobiographical as Mikhail Bulgakov was actually a doctor but gave up the practice after four years at the age of twenty-nine to embrace a life of literature. The nine short stories are dark, chilling weather is everywhere, wolves, a lot of peasants who are really not the brightest but despite this there is an innate joy throughout the book. But what a life Bulgakov had as a doctor. Imagine just after qualifying as a doctor, he had assumed that he would continue working as an intern in one of the hospitals but instead he was sent into the hinterland to the Muryova Hospital, 32 miles from the village of Grachyovka. Upon his arrival he found out that the place had no electricity and he had some rather odd individuals to work for him. This is a very amusing book but is studded with stupidity or perhaps ignorance on behalf of many of the peasants who come to his surgery. This doctor has inspirations about the prognosis when he sees a patient even though he has hardly been a doctor for a minute. He's right in the majority of cases but most of the operations are done by quickly reading beforehand one of the many medical books that the previous doctor left. Many a time he thought the patient on the operating table was going to die but they survived. One young girl had a leg amputated and he thought that was definitely the end for her. No, she recovered and gaily came into his surgery on crutches for follow-up a few months later. She smiled all the time and would be sent to Moscow for a prosthesis. (The Embroidered Towel). A true delight to read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laleh

    As a medical student, I am naturally terrified of what I might have to face out in the real world. Well, this book -portraying a young Russian doctor's experience of practice in a small village hospital- confirms that my worst nightmares probably will come true and I'll be faced with every gory scene that I can imagine. Well...we'll just have to see how it goes then As a medical student, I am naturally terrified of what I might have to face out in the real world. Well, this book -portraying a young Russian doctor's experience of practice in a small village hospital- confirms that my worst nightmares probably will come true and I'll be faced with every gory scene that I can imagine. Well...we'll just have to see how it goes then

  8. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    No one likes going to the doctor, even if the doctor is a hunk with the most fabulous cheekbones (like mine), or a hottie with the prettiest ass this side of the donkey sanctuary (like yours). When we look back at the history of medicine, we realise, although (in America) being sick costs money, at least we aren’t having leeches shoved down our pants, amputations sans anaesthesia, or teeth extractions done by nurses. Bulgakov’s short fictions are drawn from his time as a doctor in a provincial b No one likes going to the doctor, even if the doctor is a hunk with the most fabulous cheekbones (like mine), or a hottie with the prettiest ass this side of the donkey sanctuary (like yours). When we look back at the history of medicine, we realise, although (in America) being sick costs money, at least we aren’t having leeches shoved down our pants, amputations sans anaesthesia, or teeth extractions done by nurses. Bulgakov’s short fictions are drawn from his time as a doctor in a provincial backwater treating thick peasants, where patients bitch out the doc for a syphilis diagnosis, ignorant mothers refuse to let him save their children, and millers take twelve doses of medicine at once to speed things up. Idiots! Several stories read like deleted scenes from Casualty (or ER), and the longest ‘Morphine’ is a stark portrayal of addiction. My favourite, ‘The Blizzard,’ tells of a snowstorm where poor Mikhail nearly loses his toes. ‘The Murderer’ is also gently subversive and ironic, telling of an army doctor who blows holes in his Captain. (Bastard had it coming!) These are less contentious stories from the master satirist, but well worth a read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caro the Helmet Lady

    I absolutely loved it. Gosh, I could have more stories with the same characters! It was too short.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Terrington

    A Young Doctor's Notebook is a wonderful suite of short stories following a recently graduated doctor as he tackles various medical conditions afflicting the peasants of Russia. That is to say the peasants within his particular domain. Each story is wonderfully sharp and pointed look at the ways in which this particular doctor tackles the issues he is confronted with, each one told from his sardonic and often flabbergasted perspective. There is a hint of irony and humour in how our narrator disc A Young Doctor's Notebook is a wonderful suite of short stories following a recently graduated doctor as he tackles various medical conditions afflicting the peasants of Russia. That is to say the peasants within his particular domain. Each story is wonderfully sharp and pointed look at the ways in which this particular doctor tackles the issues he is confronted with, each one told from his sardonic and often flabbergasted perspective. There is a hint of irony and humour in how our narrator discusses with himself all the various ways things could go wrong when operating or diagnosing. In many ways this book serves as an insight into the writer himself. However, moreso, it serves as a poignant way of approaching the whole idea of doubt and insecurity from inexperience. I know that on a personal level I have experienced similar thoughts to those portrayed by Mikhail Bulgakov through his character. My own thoughts have been more linked to teaching and being able to handle a classroom environment, while the doctor's are more linked to 'can I perform this operation outside of a classroom' or 'have I diagnosed correctly?' However, situations aside, one can see how doubts and lack of self-belief are similar issues across careers and lifetimes. Whether you are looking for a set of brilliant and connected short story classics to read, or wanting to read something full of thoughtful ideas, I do recommend this. It touched me on a more personal level due to the whole connection between the doctor doubting in his ability and I, myself, at times doubting myself. I have in the past struggled with public speaking. I no longer do so much when I do impromptu, however when I have a planned speech things can be a touch tougher. Either way, I believe as fellow readers you will likely find something in this work to appreciate for yourselves.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    Alma Classics edition, translated by Hugh Aplin (James Herriot - animals) + human patients + Russian lit = great stuff. Only days after I'd read about another young early twentieth-century Russian rural doctor, Lydia Kochetkova, in Mikhail Shishkin's essay and story collection Calligraphy Lesson, an online friend recommended this, among other Russian books. It's nice to follow up that sort of conicidence where possible. Young / Country Doctor's Notebook was also made into a TV series quite recentl Alma Classics edition, translated by Hugh Aplin (James Herriot - animals) + human patients + Russian lit = great stuff. Only days after I'd read about another young early twentieth-century Russian rural doctor, Lydia Kochetkova, in Mikhail Shishkin's essay and story collection Calligraphy Lesson, an online friend recommended this, among other Russian books. It's nice to follow up that sort of conicidence where possible. Young / Country Doctor's Notebook was also made into a TV series quite recently, which I'd not heard about before. (This is one of the instances when the “Readers Also Enjoyed” algorithms look to be working rather well: at the same time I was also recommended some other Russian writing less well-known in the west: Ilya Ilf, Mikhail Zoschenko, and Leonid Andreyev's Seven Who Were Hanged – all are listed under RAE for this book.) I like Michael Glenny's Bulgakov translations because they have the feel of something written a few decades ago [phrases like "What the devil? &c], and there's the connection to what others read in English over the years. Old translations of C19th classics don't feel so alive to me, and I rarely read them, but one of fifty rather than 100 years ago is just fine. However, this new version by Hugh Aplin was available on loyalty points for about 1/3 the amount of the Glenny . I may prefer Glenny's overall style, but Aplin's has one modern translation habit I prefer, leaving some local terms untranslated. Thus the young doctor has a feldsher rather than an assistant - and whilst the extent of samples makes accurate comparison limited, it's great to have the opportunity to go off chasing references that tend to be fully Anglicised in older versions, like the plica polonica, which I last encountered browsing some reference book as a kid, but the info found has now just changed the way I imagine traditional dress in central Europe. The main downside of this translation is that there's an extra story, 'The Murderer' in the Glenny which for some reason isn't in the Aplin. As with James Herriot, these are tales of a green young practitioner, newly qualified and moved to the sticks; similar sort of gripping adventures, but there are no delightfully eccentric supervisory colleagues – he's on his own with [more experienced] assistants and nurses, whom he thankfully the wisdom to listen to. And likewise the reader – for most of these stories were first printed singly in Soviet medical journals – is invited to take the practitioner's viewpoint, which, best part of a century ago, is very much about shining the light of science into the deplorable darkness of peasant ignorance. There is horror in the scourge of disease itself – whole families laid waste by syphilis as has been the case more recently with AIDS in some parts of the world - and in both some of the folk remedies. and the overconfident application of what now seems relatively undeveloped conventional medicine: you would have needed a strong constitution to survive that never mind anything else. These days we might be more interested in how the peasants thought and why, and understanding their mindset, partly as a way of learning how best to explain things to them. In 'Morphine', not originally part of this collection in Russian, we see the somewhat different attitude towards another young doctor, also based on Bulgakov himself – at least once an educated rational person - who became a morphine addict. The fortitude of the narrator of the Doctor's Notebook stories contrasts with the fear and helplessness of the morphine addict as if Bulgakov had split his past self into good and bad; the addict worked in the “good” doctor's old practice after the latter had left for a hospital job in town. (view spoiler)[The fictional addict dies, as the real Bulgakov kicked his addiction - probably under his own steam. (hide spoiler)] Glenny's introduction, readable at the beginning of ebook samples, is excellent in describing the world of the young Dr Bulgakov (and Kochetkova – though it sounds like she had far worse facilities to work with): Bulgakov’s assignment to this remote country practice was much like learning to swim by being thrown into the deep end of the pool. Nowadays it can only be in some of the remoter parts of the ‘third world’ that totally inexperienced young doctors find themselves ‘thirty-two miles from the nearest electric light’, entirely cut off from the outside world for long spells, or obliged to keep a pack of wolves at bay with a pistol while driving back from a night call. Perhaps most demoralising for a nervous beginner were the primitive communications: carts or sleighs the only transport, roads that were poor at the best of times and often impassable in the springtime thaw or the winter blizzards, erratic mails or none for weeks on end and above all – no telephone. The effects of this isolation and confinement on anyone of less than robust and balanced temperament is grimly illustrated in the story called ‘Morphine’. For Bulgakov, however, the greatest underlying source of unease, amounting at times to despair, was something less tangible though very real to him, since it occurs as an ever-present refrain throughout these stories. This was the sense of being a lone soldier of reason and enlightenment pitted against the vast, dark, ocean-like mass of peasant ignorance and superstition. .. Although his patients are his contemporaries and fellow citizens of what purports to be a modern state, Bulgakov is constantly haunted by an awareness that in dealing with them he is actually at the point of contact between two cultures which are about five hundred years apart in time. … Despite this background intimation of an almost mythic conflict between enlightenment and unreason, Bulgakov’s writing in A Country Doctor’s Notebook is thoroughly down-to-earth, realistic, and far removed from the grotesque fantasy that was the distinctive style of much of his other work in the mid-twenties.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Imi

    English title: A Young Doctor's Notebook or A Country Doctor's Notebook Wavered between 4 or 5 stars, because of course there were some slightly weaker stories in the collection and it could be argued that the stories start to get repetitive, but I think I'm going call it 4.5 stars. It's a solid collection, beautifully written, and touching on important themes in the medical profession. These nine short stories follow the early years in the career of a newly qualified doctor, who is sent to wo English title: A Young Doctor's Notebook or A Country Doctor's Notebook Wavered between 4 or 5 stars, because of course there were some slightly weaker stories in the collection and it could be argued that the stories start to get repetitive, but I think I'm going call it 4.5 stars. It's a solid collection, beautifully written, and touching on important themes in the medical profession. These nine short stories follow the early years in the career of a newly qualified doctor, who is sent to work in remote, rural hospital. They are semi-autobiographical as Bulgakov himself spent 18 months working as a doctor, before quitting medicine to focus on his literature. This was a really interesting collection to read, knowing that Bulgakov was drawing on his own experiences, and because it's very different to the surreal style most people will recognise in Bulgakov's most well-known works (e.g. The Master and Margarita). Following the day-to-day life of a doctor, this collection is focused on the surprisingly ordinary, and this is reflected in Bulgakov's choice of imagery and metaphors. The most complex metaphor he uses is light vs. darkness (such as, the contrast between day and night, the white of the snow and the inside of a hospital, the light from is bedside lamp as the doctor attempts to gain knowledge from his textbooks...). Other than that, the imagery is plain and to-the-point. Even using this straight-forward style, Bulgakov's Russian is exquisitely beautiful. I also had a library copy of Misha Glenny's English translation beside me just in case, but I only glanced at it a couple of times. Sadly, I think a lot was lost in the translation. Even if the events and words were translated directly, I feel the a lot of the deep melancholy, sadness, and self-doubt of the doctor-narrator was lost somewhat in the English translation, while it's conveyed beautifully in the Russian even when not spoken in words. I also don't quite understand Glenny's decision to translate the title as A Country Doctor's Notebook. A major theme throughout the whole collection is the doctor's inexperience, due to the fact that he is young and very newly qualified. His lack of confidence in his abilities is a direct consequence of being thrown into a situation he feels utterly under-prepared for and unworthy of. This aspect of the collection really resonated with me, as a young twenty-something myself, and I think the narrator's lack of confidence is something many could relate to, whether you're attempting a career in medicine or not. Therefore, I really think the "young/youthful" element in the original collection's title is important. Of course, the "country" element is significant, as it highlights the narrator's complete solitude and desire for any kind of help or guidance when he has no one more experienced than himself to rely on. Another theme is the doctor's need to battle against the superstition and ignorance of many of his patients. My favourite stories in the collection were 'Полотенце с петухом' ('Towel with a Rooster', translated as 'The Embroided Towel' by Glenny), describing the narrator's arrival, 'Вьюга' ('The Blizzard') when the narrator is forced to travel in dangerous conditions to reach a patient, 'Стальное горло' ('Steel Throat') depicting the doctor's struggle to deal with a particular difficult set of ignorant (and scared) family members of a patient, and 'Морфий' ('Morphine'), the longest story in the collection and heart-wrenching account of mental health issues in the medical profession and addiction. I was really impressed with Bulgakov's approach in this particular story, demonstrating the stigma attached to mental health, especially when you consider that these stories were written in the 1920s. Overall, I really enjoyed this insight into the life of a doctor in this time period, as well as Bulgakov's wonderful way with words. The only story I felt didn't quite fit with the rest of the collection was the final one, 'Я убил' ('I Killed') and apparently that was not included in the only other English translation available, by Hugh Aplin, which makes a lot of sense to me. I'd like to get a look at that edition sometime to see if I prefer Aplin's translation to Glenny's.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sonja Arlow

    3.5 stars For anyone that have read The Master and Margarita the foreword makes it clear that this collection of stories are in a different genre, more realistic, more down to earth and a book that the author was never able to publish in his lifetime. The foreword also makes it clear that this book is much more autobiographical than what you would assume at first glance. The author was also a doctor, posted to some god forsaken outpost in Russia where it feels like perpetual winter, he was also co 3.5 stars For anyone that have read The Master and Margarita the foreword makes it clear that this collection of stories are in a different genre, more realistic, more down to earth and a book that the author was never able to publish in his lifetime. The foreword also makes it clear that this book is much more autobiographical than what you would assume at first glance. The author was also a doctor, posted to some god forsaken outpost in Russia where it feels like perpetual winter, he was also completely inexperienced in the practical side of medicine and sadly also got addicted to morphine. I liked these stories, there was humor sprinkled throughout in a “Sh*t I am going to kill this peasant and all I have to save him is a spoon and vodka”, kind of way. The fact that these villagers were also still very much gripped in medieval superstitions didn’t help this poor doctor. So although I really enjoyed reading the collection I still feel like I wanted more. It gave you a glimpse of pre-revolutionary Russia, but only a glimpse.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Asha Seth

    Part fiction, part memoir, this anthology of stories, gives the reader a peek into a young doctor's mind and initial years of life, who is skeptical about his capabilities in the profession. The horrors varied patients unleash upon his soul has him biting his nails at every other medical case that knocks upon his door, but how the same horrors also aid him in transforming into the most revered medical practitioner of the town, amidst people as ignorant as kids, here's why - “Doctor!’ she exclaime Part fiction, part memoir, this anthology of stories, gives the reader a peek into a young doctor's mind and initial years of life, who is skeptical about his capabilities in the profession. The horrors varied patients unleash upon his soul has him biting his nails at every other medical case that knocks upon his door, but how the same horrors also aid him in transforming into the most revered medical practitioner of the town, amidst people as ignorant as kids, here's why - “Doctor!’ she exclaimed in a hoarse voice. ‘I swear to you it wasn’t my fault! How was anyone to know? You made a point of telling me the man was intelligent.’ ‘What’s happened?” “Just imagine, doctor—he swallowed all ten doses of quinine at once! At midnight.” or as inconsiderate as swines, here's why - “Couldn’t you have found a better place than that bridge to have your baby, my dear? Why didn’t you come here on horseback?’ She replied: ‘My father-in-law wouldn’t give me a horse. It’s only three miles, he said, you’ll easily get there on your own. You’re a healthy woman. No point in tiring a horse for nothing …” . . With Bulgakov, you simply can never go wrong. His wit laced with humor leaves such an impact that lasts much longer after finishing his book; and that is the case with most of his books. A pure genius, that man.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liina Bachmann

    There was ice rain where I live today. Meaning that there was subzero temperature and at the same time it was raining. It turned all the streets into skating rinks instantly. It was literally impossible to walk. I walked the dog and did it in a true penguin fashion - hands stretched to the sides, feet wide apart, taking tiny clumsy steps. But in the end, it all turned out well - I didn't fall and made it home safely. The comforting feeling of a tense situation turning out well at the end is pres There was ice rain where I live today. Meaning that there was subzero temperature and at the same time it was raining. It turned all the streets into skating rinks instantly. It was literally impossible to walk. I walked the dog and did it in a true penguin fashion - hands stretched to the sides, feet wide apart, taking tiny clumsy steps. But in the end, it all turned out well - I didn't fall and made it home safely. The comforting feeling of a tense situation turning out well at the end is present in all the stories in Mikhail Bulgakov's A Country Doctor's Notebook as well. There is a lot of tension but a lot of happy endings as well. It is about a young doctor who has just gotten his school certificate and is on his first post in a godforsaken village in deep rural Russia. There isn't even electricity. Bulgakov himself was trained to be a doctor and worked as one for a short while so this, I assume, is to some extent autobiographical. It is a short story collection with a heartfelt, a bit satirical but still warm humour. Somewhat similar to another country doctor - a veterinarian James Herriot who's books are among my favourites. Bulgakov takes it a step further of course. There are plenty of graphic details and the setting isn't picturesque winding English country roads but a merciless Russian winter. I read this book during a winter weekend spent in a simple little cabin, in a small Old Believer's village near the Russian border and it was perfection. The writing is practically faultless. In just 150 pages I felt so much for the young hesitant doctor. Always doubting his abilities, sweating over whether a knock on the door will be the much-feared "hernia patient", always overworked but still reading until late at night to get better at his craft. The story about facing the blizzard in the pitch-black night to get to a patient was just unforgettable. A wonderful wonderful book, filled with much empathy, action, plot twists, humour, tension and above all hope for human nature. Recommended to even those rare creatures who didn't like The Master and Margarita.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Graphic and atmospheric stories about a new MD sent to practice alone in a remote rural clinic during World War I. He immediately realizes that his education didn't prepare him for the everyday cases that arrive endlessly: threshing accidents, difficult births, diphtheria, syphilis etc etc. He relies on gut instinct and the advice of three assistants who have worked in the clinic for many years with many different doctors. Gradually he acquires much of the knowledge he needs. But he is so isolate Graphic and atmospheric stories about a new MD sent to practice alone in a remote rural clinic during World War I. He immediately realizes that his education didn't prepare him for the everyday cases that arrive endlessly: threshing accidents, difficult births, diphtheria, syphilis etc etc. He relies on gut instinct and the advice of three assistants who have worked in the clinic for many years with many different doctors. Gradually he acquires much of the knowledge he needs. But he is so isolated. There are so many blizzards. These are fictionalized stories, based on his experiences, so it's hard to tell what really happened. Did he really shoot wolves from a sleigh as they chased him back home after a trip through a blizzard to the site of a tragedy? In any case, the loneliness, cold and exhaustion are vividly conveyed. Even though Bulgakov was engaged in writing experimental works like Heart of a Dog and Master and Margarita while he turned out these stories for publication in two journals, that fantasy doesn't play a role here except in one story about a newly-minted rural doctor like himself who gets addicted to morphine. Then the doctor's journal, describing his physical cravings and reactions, show how Bulgakov can paint an exotic experience. For the most part, though, they are almost sentimental snapshots of the life of an educated man among the peasants, in that very long vein of Russian writing.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Haaze

    Into the darkness of the Russian winter This collection of stories brings the reader to the realm of 1916-18 in the midst of rural Russia. It turns out that as a young man Bulgakov served as a doctor in the country provinces close to Smolensk and this collection of stories were written an early period of his life (published in medical journals). I did not quite know what to expect. I adored his Master and Margarita with its surreal atmosphere and story line. However, this was a delightful reading Into the darkness of the Russian winter This collection of stories brings the reader to the realm of 1916-18 in the midst of rural Russia. It turns out that as a young man Bulgakov served as a doctor in the country provinces close to Smolensk and this collection of stories were written an early period of his life (published in medical journals). I did not quite know what to expect. I adored his Master and Margarita with its surreal atmosphere and story line. However, this was a delightful reading experience. It is really a series of encounters with patients from the perspective of a bright young doctor stranded in the middle of nowhere. I was taken by its realism, vivid description and humanity. The translation by Glenny was seemingly flawless as I never felt the awkwardness of reading a translated work. In contrast, I simply found great joy being in the company of the doctor and his inner world as he struggled with case after case. Perhaps it is the immediateness that pulls me into these stories. Besides, Bulgakov’s descriptions of the Russian countryside, the howl of the snow storms and the complete darkness of the Russian winter are captivating. Highly recommended to Russian lit enthusiasts. 4.5/5 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

    An excellent, albeit too short collection of both real and embellished tales of Bulgakov's (often utterly hilarious) trials and travails as a country doctor. As a nurse, it was particularly enjoyable to read about his neuroses about his inexperience as a doctor and fear of being confronted with a difficult case. His country experiences were certainly wild, with sleigh rides through blizzards chased by wolves and more. Near the end there were two stories of a particular more somber nature; one of An excellent, albeit too short collection of both real and embellished tales of Bulgakov's (often utterly hilarious) trials and travails as a country doctor. As a nurse, it was particularly enjoyable to read about his neuroses about his inexperience as a doctor and fear of being confronted with a difficult case. His country experiences were certainly wild, with sleigh rides through blizzards chased by wolves and more. Near the end there were two stories of a particular more somber nature; one of another doctor and his battle with morphine addiction which is particularly sad, and the final tale of a doctor who was pressed into service under the Whites while the Bolsheviks were taking Kiev. Not exactly the Bulgakov I came to know through the Master and Margarita, and Heart of a Dog, but definitely a good read!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    Now you can also watch a British TV show, based on the book: Young Doctor’s Notebook. I shall risk saying, that this is the best book I’ve found so far, this year. I definitely liked Bulgakov’s style- I loved the raw and precise descriptions of the feelings of Dr. Polyakov and all the operations he performed. Bulgakov definitely provoked my imagination and I pictured the scenes quite clearly. The seven stories from the series "A Country Doctor's Notebook" monitor the development of Dr. Polyakov as Now you can also watch a British TV show, based on the book: Young Doctor’s Notebook. I shall risk saying, that this is the best book I’ve found so far, this year. I definitely liked Bulgakov’s style- I loved the raw and precise descriptions of the feelings of Dr. Polyakov and all the operations he performed. Bulgakov definitely provoked my imagination and I pictured the scenes quite clearly. The seven stories from the series "A Country Doctor's Notebook" monitor the development of Dr. Polyakov as a young district doctor. I believe this collection will appeal to other students like me, and even colleagues, who will surely find out and recognize all the agony, doubt, fear and insecurities of the young, newly graduate Dr. Polyakov, who is cast directly from the university bench to practice. He is the only ray of hope for the peasants and has to deal not only with every possible disease, but also with the patients and their relatives, which is never an easy task. We have a wonderful description of the Russian reality, the life of a novice doctor and in the second part of the book - the novel "Morphine" we can see and understand the plight of the morphinists. While describing the breakdown of Polyakov’s personality, in the background you can feel the strokes of universal decay of society. However this can not be delivered easily on paper, but Bulgakov manages to deliver. He produces a picture, that describes the degradation of both the outer and the inner world of Polyakov, which is quite shocking and realistic, to be passed over lightly. Morphine, although it is used less often now, it is still the most efficient, but dangerous painkiller - dosis sola facit venenum. But one minor habit does not make morfinist, right? Is it right, though? Devil in a bottle. Cocaine is devil in a bottle.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    A marvellous collection of 9 short stories by Mikhail Bulgakov, the first seven of which are sufficiently closely linked to be read as chapters of a novel. Bulgakov is best known for his acknowledged classic "The Master and Margarita," but he originally trained as a doctor. These stories are I believe to be treated as fiction, but were "inspired" by his real life experience of being sent from his home in Kiev to a remote country district in the Smolensk region in 1916. As the preface to the book A marvellous collection of 9 short stories by Mikhail Bulgakov, the first seven of which are sufficiently closely linked to be read as chapters of a novel. Bulgakov is best known for his acknowledged classic "The Master and Margarita," but he originally trained as a doctor. These stories are I believe to be treated as fiction, but were "inspired" by his real life experience of being sent from his home in Kiev to a remote country district in the Smolensk region in 1916. As the preface to the book points out, this move was in many ways the equivalent of travelling back in time several centuries. Bulgakov moved from the world of electricity, shops, theatres, cinemas and science to a pre-literate, pre-industrial society dominated by religion and folk belief; where it could take 24 hours to travel the 32 miles to the nearest town, and where the inhabitants kept the same hours as the sun. The first seven of the stories reveal the author engaged in a double struggle, firstly against the hostility and superstition of the local peasants, and secondly against the self-doubt of a 24 year old pitched straight from the classroom into being the sole doctor in the area, responsible for diagnosing and treating every possible condition, and without a single colleague with whom he can consult. Each tale involves a different case and each is exciting in its own way. The last two stories are somewhat different in feel, with one providing a vivid description of morphine addiction. Bulgakov was himself a morphine addict for a period, his addiction having begun after he was severely wounded in WWI. In the book he casts another doctor as the addict, with the main character reading the addict's diary, but it is clear the story is written by someone who knows only too well what he is talking about. Up to reading this the only Bulgakov book I had read was "The Master and Margarita." I had not expected any other work of his to come close to that masterpiece, but really I was not disappointed in this at all. I am going to have to read more of this guy's work!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    25/7 - I think this might be the best 'literary classic' I've read since the last time I picked up an Austen or Bronte. If you take a look at my 'literary classic' shelf you'll find a lot of three star and under books. Nabokov, Hesse, Baldwin, Conrad et al have all fallen under the label of 'literary classic' which, for me, has come to signify a dreary and boring book full of themes that I won't understand. Luckily, that wasn't the case with A Young Doctor's Notebook. In fact it reminded me stro 25/7 - I think this might be the best 'literary classic' I've read since the last time I picked up an Austen or Bronte. If you take a look at my 'literary classic' shelf you'll find a lot of three star and under books. Nabokov, Hesse, Baldwin, Conrad et al have all fallen under the label of 'literary classic' which, for me, has come to signify a dreary and boring book full of themes that I won't understand. Luckily, that wasn't the case with A Young Doctor's Notebook. In fact it reminded me strongly of my all-time favourite non-fiction series All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. Both books were written as semi-autobiographical books (or series, in Herriot's case), following the author's journey through life in their chosen profession and both feature hilarious stories of the author's attempts to care for their patients. I loved all the little anecdotes about Bulgakov/Bomgard's patients. Their crazy superstitions, the incredible difficulty of travelling through the Russian winter in nothing but a horse-pulled sled, the 'cutting-edge' treatments that would today be considered to not be a treatment at all. Reading about life in the medical system of early 20th century Russia was fascinating, and a little terrifying. The conditions and diseases that are now considered commonplace and easily treatable, and were even in 1917 as long as you weren't in rural Russia, were death sentences when you had to travel for many hours (or more, depending on the weather) to reach a hospital. Most of my family have some type of auto-immune disease - diabetes, colitis, hypothyroidism - with diabetes I wouldn't have survived this long and my parents would have lived much more painful lives if we had been living through the era that Bulgakov wrote about. Thank goodness for truly modern medicine and the advances the scientists continue to make.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Oh to be a doctor in rural apparently was not a good thing because the people would not listen when you tried to tell them about STDs, in particular, syphilis Oh, to be a patient in rural Russia where doctors come after graduating and having no experience. This is the basis for the Ovation/BBC series of the same name, and a reader can see why it had so many champions for adaption. IT is at time poignant and at times very funny. It feels very true. It should be noted that if you have seen the ser Oh to be a doctor in rural apparently was not a good thing because the people would not listen when you tried to tell them about STDs, in particular, syphilis Oh, to be a patient in rural Russia where doctors come after graduating and having no experience. This is the basis for the Ovation/BBC series of the same name, and a reader can see why it had so many champions for adaption. IT is at time poignant and at times very funny. It feels very true. It should be noted that if you have seen the series, this book contains several of the cases that are used in the first season. It also lacks the magical realism flair of the series (though Bulgakov himself would use magic realism).

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia

    Reading has been slow, the days have been exceedingly fast, the nights, not long enough to make up for the life missed in the days spent working, felt like page-breaks. It starts to snow at night and it looks like this winter just has enough power to keep with it throughout the day. So here's what I do, I thought, here's what I do, I'm going to grab a book that looks and feels just like the landscape outside my window - chilling. And so A Young Doctor's Notebook moved from a shelf where it spent Reading has been slow, the days have been exceedingly fast, the nights, not long enough to make up for the life missed in the days spent working, felt like page-breaks. It starts to snow at night and it looks like this winter just has enough power to keep with it throughout the day. So here's what I do, I thought, here's what I do, I'm going to grab a book that looks and feels just like the landscape outside my window - chilling. And so A Young Doctor's Notebook moved from a shelf where it spent the last 10 years to my bedside table, and then it was over one winter evening. Like a dream. Don't get confused by the dates or Bulgavkov's mystical fame: it's still very much the Russian 19th century novel we know from Pushkin and the Tolstoy. The original uses the same words and constructs, showing that Bulgakov, a novice writer and a great admirer of the classics hadn't spent much time looking for inspiration. Even the premise of a young, promising, educated man facing some extraordinary conditions sounds all too familiar. But oh was it good. Razor-sharp, neurotic, bleak, not shy of showing the clash of cultures and the shock one would inevitably face when stuck in a hospital in the middle of nowhere with barely literate, but oh so alive peasants. That is, alive unless one accidentally kills them with a shaking hand during a surgery gone wrong. A must read if you ever doubted yourself, messed up or had to look for a solution under an extreme amount of pressure. A must read if you hadn't.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Цветозар Бонев

    I tried reading "The Master and Margarita" quite a while back and had to give up because of the strange style of the author. I'm glad to say that in his short stories about a country doctor Mikhail Bulgakov prevails, at least in my eyes, as a true talent. The gritty descriptions of a doctor's life in the middle of nowhere that span the first 80% of this books are just masterfully written and so eerily enjoyable. I did not find the chapter about Morphine as enticing though and the finishing story I tried reading "The Master and Margarita" quite a while back and had to give up because of the strange style of the author. I'm glad to say that in his short stories about a country doctor Mikhail Bulgakov prevails, at least in my eyes, as a true talent. The gritty descriptions of a doctor's life in the middle of nowhere that span the first 80% of this books are just masterfully written and so eerily enjoyable. I did not find the chapter about Morphine as enticing though and the finishing story about the Murderer was interesting enough but the true strength of this book, in my opinion, is the patients and procedures described in the early, unsure year of the doctor.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    I liked this book of short stories. The stories within are very simple but i found them to be well written and pithy. The book is certainly very different from his masterpiece The Master and Margarita but well worth a read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rebecka

    A quick read that's somewhat repetitive at first, but which then gets better and better. A quick read that's somewhat repetitive at first, but which then gets better and better.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lostaccount

    Partly fictional account of Bulgakov's time as a doctor. Absolutely brilliant, in turns powerful, funny, moving, dramatic, and the imagery is fantastic, some of the operations truly horrific. If Bulgakov endured even half of what he described then he had a cast iron gut and an iron will. Masterly writing as always from one of those "old" Russian writers. Partly fictional account of Bulgakov's time as a doctor. Absolutely brilliant, in turns powerful, funny, moving, dramatic, and the imagery is fantastic, some of the operations truly horrific. If Bulgakov endured even half of what he described then he had a cast iron gut and an iron will. Masterly writing as always from one of those "old" Russian writers.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lucia Gannon

    This book makes me glad I am not a rural general practitioner in Russia in 1916. It actually took me a while to feel warm after reading this, the descriptions of the cold, darkness and snow blizzards were so stark and vivid. I can certainly identify with the self-doubt and fear that is the constant companion of the newly-qualified doctor who feels constantly out of their depth. I was reminded of a time when I was post-intern and found myself doing a GP locum in a rural area, 50 miles from the ne This book makes me glad I am not a rural general practitioner in Russia in 1916. It actually took me a while to feel warm after reading this, the descriptions of the cold, darkness and snow blizzards were so stark and vivid. I can certainly identify with the self-doubt and fear that is the constant companion of the newly-qualified doctor who feels constantly out of their depth. I was reminded of a time when I was post-intern and found myself doing a GP locum in a rural area, 50 miles from the nearest hospital and 10 miles from an experienced GP. While it was not Russia in deepest winter it was sufficiently nerve-wrecking for me to never want to do that again. Thankfully, that situation can no longer arise. A really enjoyable and absorbing read, my favourite story was "Morphine", a harrowing account of the effects of a physician's addiction to prescription drugs that could just as likely to happen now as then.

  30. 5 out of 5

    John

    A series of short stories based upon Bulgakov's early experiences as a Country Doctor. These stories are more in the Chekhov mode in contrast to his later works such as Master and Margarita and Heart of a Dog. Morphine is probably the best story of the bunch. I'm not really qualified to discuss the translations, but I own (accidentally) two translations. The Glenny translation (Melville House) is what I read. I also own the Hugh Alpin translation (Rosetta Books). The Glenny translation contains o A series of short stories based upon Bulgakov's early experiences as a Country Doctor. These stories are more in the Chekhov mode in contrast to his later works such as Master and Margarita and Heart of a Dog. Morphine is probably the best story of the bunch. I'm not really qualified to discuss the translations, but I own (accidentally) two translations. The Glenny translation (Melville House) is what I read. I also own the Hugh Alpin translation (Rosetta Books). The Glenny translation contains one additional story (Murder) but I don't think it is essential. I briefly compared the translations. The Alpin translation may be a bit more literal (and it includes additional footnotes) but there doesn't seem to be any major difference.

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