Chekhov's Doctors: A Collection of Chekhov's Medical Tales

Chekhov's Doctors: A Collection of Chekhov's Medical Tales

Chekhov's Doctors: A Collection of Chekhov's Medical Tales

Chekhov's Doctors: A Collection of Chekhov's Medical Tales


"The stories in Chekhov's Doctors are powerful portraits of doctors in their everyday lives, struggling with their own personal problems as well as trying to serve their patients. The fifth volume in the acclaimed Literature and Medicine Series, Chekhov's Doctors will serve as a rich text for professional health care educators as well as for general readers." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Robert Coles

What follows are stories by a writer who was also a physician—tales of sadness and woe, but also of surprise and hope, all of them meant to remind the reader of various aspects of human nature: the possibilities for the good and bad that await eXpression in our individual lifetimes. Anton Chekhov has been dead almost a century and lived a relatively short life of forty-four years (like Orwell's and D. H. Lawrence's, his writing life was cut short by tuberculosis). Yet, in the brief time fate gave him, the Russian doctor, a serf's grandson, wrote short and longer fiction; he also attended the world as an observer and became a documentary essayist; and not least, he became a much admired dramatist, whose plays continue to engage and inspire theatergoers. As is the case with his predecessor, Dostoievsky, and his older friend, Tolstoy, Chekhov remains a nineteenth-century Russian giant whose words continue to offer readers the world over penetrating moral and psychological contemplation.

Needless to say, our finest writers speak in many voices and are heard by listeners (readers) who have their own inclinations and interests—hence the broad range of interpretive responses granted the imaginative narrative work of Chekhov. in a sense, this book is one such reply—on the part of a doctor—reader (and poet) to the doctor stories of a doctor—writer. An American physician gives much thought to a Russian physician's eXtraordinary work, accomplished long ago—though the latter is still very much an ethically prodding presence among us who want to ask ourselves the big questions that the stories ahead beg us to consider: the meaning and purpose of life, and the manner it ought to be conducted (and why).

In his helpful and quite instructive introduction, our present-day Dr. C. tells us much about the Dr. C. whose stories we are to read—and inevitably, about the constraints that bear on a writer who wants to get at the heart of the matter for his readers. Here, then, are some chosen tales, all of which have a doctor in them: in their sum, they are medical protagonists, each trying to find a way toward honor and decent living, and each not altogether sure that such an achievement has been securely obtained. Put differently, Chekhov wanted, for those doctors he rendered, a confrontation that would disclose the truth of their moral (and spiritual) lives; he has accidents and incidents befall them, and the outcome stirs us to . . .

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