Chekhov experienced no conflict between art and science or art and medicine. He believed that knowledge of one complemented the other. Chekhov brought medical knowledge and sensitivity to his creative writing--he had an intimate knowledge of the world of medicine and the skills of doctoring, and he utilized this information in his approach to his characters. His sensibility as a medical insider gave special poignancy to his physician characters. The doctors in his engaging tales demonstrate a wide spectrum of behavior, personality, and character. At their best, they demonstrate courage, altruism, and tenderness, qualities that lie at the heart of good medical practice. At their worst, they display insensitivity and incompetency.
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.
MEDVIEDENKO. Why do you always wear mourning?
MASHA. I dress in black to match my life. I am unhappy.
MEDVIEDENKO. Why should you be unhappy? [Thinking it over] I don't understand it. You are healthy, and though your father is not rich, he has a good competency. My life is far harder than yours. I only have twenty-three roubles a month to live on, but I don't wear mourning. [They sit down].
MASHA. Happiness does not depend on riches; poor men are often happy.
MEDVIEDENKO. In theory, yes, but not in reality. Take my case, for instance; my mother, my two sisters, my little brother and I must all live somehow on my salary of twenty-three roubles a month. We have to eat and drink, I take it. You wouldn't have us go without tea and sugar, would you? Or tobacco? Answer me that, if you can.
MASHA. [Looking in the direction of the stage] The play will soon begin.