the short story project

The Blizzard

Olga Sonkin On:

The Blizzard by Mikhail Bulgakov

The short story “The Blizzard” appears in the collection “A Young Doctor’s Notebook,” which is based on Bulgakov’s own experiences as a doctor in a remote village in Russia, cut off from civilization, before he became a writer. The account of the physician’s dealings in the poor, backward rural region is given in the first person, and the result is a collection of surreal, amusing and cartoonish stories. “The Blizzard” is uncharacteristic of the collection. The spotlight in this story is cast on the blizzard, a phenomenon of nature, and not on the physician’s dealings with the patients, with the diseases and with death, as in the rest of the stories. The path is at the center of this story, the path to a dying girl and back to the rural hospital on time while the terrorizing blizzard rages outside. Facing the blizzard, which is beyond any human endeavor, magnifies the contemplations troubling the young doctor in the other stories as well: thoughts regarding the place of the individual against fate—why try to cure patients who end up dying anyway? Why leave the comfort of the warm home and take to the road? Where does this sense of calling come from? Even if you load me with money I wouldn’t go again, the young doctor concludes at the end of yet another case that resulted in failure, and the blizzard, with its force of life, which sweeps the person away, replies with a ridiculing whistle: “Yes you will go… yes you will go…”