Friday, 15 February 2013

A Country Doctor's Notebook

Blurb: 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.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed these. They are very understated and quite shockingly realist, having read the Master and Margarita. The first seven short stories are - as the title would suggest - the anecdotes of a doctor. They are incredibly simple - but beautiful, funny and expertly written. There is a real sense of the harrowing isolation. In fact I think I preferred these simpler stories to the last two: Morphine and The Murderer which seem different to the anecdotal tone of the first seven, and more profound in subject. Indeed for me it was Bulkagov's skilful simplicity that really made these stories so enjoyable.

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