Doctors-writers in the history of Russia

  • Authors: Dudnikova A.D., Semenikhina E.S.
  • Pages: 47-50
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This article is devoted to the life and works of doctors- writers. Anton Pavlovich Chekhov and Mikhail Afanasievich Bulgakov have gone down in history not only as great Russian writers, but also people who know medicine from the inside. Each of them created a single collective image of a doctor who took root in society, and some characters became household names. Using examples from the lives of writers, as well as their works, we will see exactly how the opinion of Russian playwrights about medicine was formed and projected onto society.

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A doctor is an extremely important profession, which becomes not just an occupation, but a way of life. And our domestic doctors are no exception, many have made an invaluable contribution to the development of medicine, saved many lives, and also protected future generations from various diseases, passing on unique knowledge. Each of them deserves attention, but I would like to draw your attention to people who had a creative nature and went down in history primarily as writers, not doctors. It will be about Anton Pavlovich Chekhov and Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov, the great Russian playwrights. They, like no one else, formed the public image of a doctor, consisting of many different details, in their works.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov entered the Moscow State Medical University in 1879, graduating in 1884. This is a very important stage in the life of the writer, which laid the foundation for it. In his letter to the publisher Suvorin, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov writes: “You advise me not to chase two hares and not to think about practicing medicine. I do not know why it is impossible to chase two hares even in the literal sense of these words? There would be hounds, but you can chase ... I feel more cheerful and more satisfied with myself when I realize that I have two things to do, and not one. Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get tired of one, I sleep at the other. Although it is disorderly, it is not so boring, and besides, both of them lose absolutely nothing from my treachery ... ". He was also a diligent student who attends all seminars, workshops and lectures. When the young man went to practice in the hospital, he was impressed by the sick peasants and the morals of the medical staff, his emotions and feelings were captured on the pages of stories: "Rural Aesculapius", "Surgery", "Trouble", "On business", "Ionych" , "Grief" and others. To understand what problems the young writer saw in medicine, we will consider the story "Ionych".
The work tells about the life of a zemstvo doctor Dmitry Ionych Startsev, who came to gain experience and medical practice. In the city of S., which is located near the village, the doctor first meets the intelligent Turkin family and shows sympathy for their daughter. The main character was very comfortable in their house, he fondly remembered their friendly conversations for a long time, wishing to visit them again one day. A year later, Dmitry Ionych receives a letter from Vera Iosifovna, who asks him to come to them. The eldest of the Turkins complained of severe migraines, but none of the local doctors could help her, and then she remembered the zemstvo doctor, deciding to turn to him. This visit was decisive for the immediate future in the life of the protagonist. The doctor decided to propose to his daughter Vera Iosifovna, whom he had been in love with for quite some time, but was refused. The fiery heart of the young doctor gradually cools down, which makes the ardent zeal for the noble medical cause go out.
Four years fly by. Dmitry Ionych has vast medical experience, he accepts patients not only in the village, but also in the city. The Doctor has got quite rich, this is evident not only from his new property, but also from the changed physique, which has become much larger. His measured and calm way of life is disturbed by a letter from the Turkins' house, in which the mother and daughter ask to meet with him. Seeing Ekaterina Ivanovna, the girl with whom he had once been in love, he noticed changes in her external image, she noticeably lost weight, the smile that was childish and innocent ceased to seem so charming. He realized that he did not experience past feelings, which also made him incredibly happy because they were not bound by marriage. The former lover confessed her feelings to the protagonist, and the girl, who seemed to be recently pretty at heart, began to annoy him. At this moment, we understand how much the main character has changed, not only physically, but also from a moral point of view. He is no longer interested in the spiritual component of the girl, only the outer shell catches his eye, and the tender feelings of the young person are absolutely uninteresting to him, they cause only irritation in his heart and a desire to leave as soon as possible.
A few years later, Startsev became even more mellow and already moves with great difficulty. The protagonist, with age, turns into a simple local inhabitant, becomes unfriendly, nervous and irritable, constantly invests in real estate, greedily saving up money. He now cares little about medical practice, but he is not going to lose his place as a Zemstvo doctor. Thus, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov raises a very important and complex problem. A young, promising and talented doctor with burning eyes and a warm heart eventually completely degrades to a simple layman who does not have even a drop of spiritual value and positive human feelings, such as compassion and mercy. All his thoughts about good intentions disappear, and now he is only interested in one thing - the thirst for profit. Money becomes the only joy in the life of the protagonist.

With the help of this story, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov raises very important and serious problems of his time, which have remained unchanged in modern times. Doctors who care only about money and care about the lives of patients should not work in hospitals. Each person deserves polite and tactful treatment, at the same time, the doctor must inspire trust and a sense of security, since it is in his hands that patients trust their lives. The work of Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov is one of the most beautiful pages not only in Russian, but also in world literature. Following the traditions of great Russian writers such as Dostoevsky and Saltykov-Shchedrin, he comprehends the historical period and social trends of his time, being a direct part of all events. Through the prism of the view of Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov, various problems are revealed that have affected all spheres of society and each person individually, which have developed in the course of large-scale state changes. Medicine is also touched upon in his works, being a doctor who sees everything from the inside, literary heroes form fairly accurate images of the sphere that was rapidly developing at that time, because this time was a period of important discoveries and new inventions. And I would like to dwell on the works "Master and Margarita" and "Heart of a Dog". In the first work, my eyes were drawn to me by the hero of a secondary plan - Professor Stravinsky. He is the head doctor in a psychiatric hospital, although he only appears in a few chapters of the work, he leaves a lasting impression as a professional in his field. When he works with the poet Ivan Bezdomny, the doctor shows quite impressive knowledge in the human psyche. Professor Stravinsky is able to convince a person to stay for treatment of his own free will with the help of a simple conversation, instilling unconditional confidence not only in his patient, but also in the reader, leaving no grain of doubt in his point of view. Having carried out subtle, barely noticeable work, the doctor was able to open the eyes of the poet for the reason that Ivan Bezdomny independently came to the decision to stay in the hospital, although his doctor suggested this idea. Professor Stravinsky is exactly the kind of doctor to aspire to be. Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov showed a master of his craft, an ideal to follow and try to surpass. The psychiatric direction of the doctor was not chosen by chance, it is quite difficult to open and understand the Russian soul, and what can we say about its healing. A doctor should treat a person, not a disease, and the spiritual state is an important aspect for recovery, so the doctor must have not only extensive knowledge in medicine, but also moral principles and foundations. In the second work, one of the main characters is Professor Philip Philipovich Preobrazhensky, who has already become a household name in speech. He is a professional in his field, the reason lies not only in his experience, but also in the desire to constantly learn something new, develop science and set new goals. Professor Preobrazhensky constantly sees patients, putting his own sleep and meals in the background in order to accept as many patients as possible. The main character lives his work and really deserves respect. A doctor must learn all his life, develop and move science forward, have a relentless and strong character in order to succeed. This is how Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov sees and shows ideal doctors, those who sincerely burn with their work, have moral principles and strive for knowledge. Such an image of a Russian doctor is formed in the minds of the public. Each of the writers contributed not only in the medical field, but also in the formation of character traits that a doctor should have.


About the authors

Amina Denisovna Dudnikova

Author for correspondence.
Russian Federation

Elena Serafimovna Semenikhina

Russian Federation

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