The Murderer

Bulgakov, Mikhail

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Jan-19-2004
  • Last revised: Sep-01-2006


Doctor Yashvin sits with his colleagues and admits, "I have killed a man." The story of his resistance activity during the Bolshevik revolution ensues. The young doctor was called to serve as the personal physician of an enemy colonel. In this command the doctor witnesses horrible atrocities against common people as well as resistance fighters, the last straw being the brutal beating of a woman who comes demanding to know why her husband has been shot. Called upon to attend to a knife wound sustained by the colonel and finding the latter in a vulnerable position, Yashvin takes advantage of the moment, shoots the colonel dead, and escapes.


Useful for the discussion of the limits of duty of a physician to his patient. Can a physician fail to attend, or actually deliberately kill a patient, for political or social humanitarian reasons, while functioning as the patient’s physician? Can a doctor-patient relationship be forced? In what way do conditions of war alter the moral structure of practicing medicine?


First published: 1925. Translated by Michael Glenny.

Primary Source

A Country Doctor's Notebook


Collins & Harvill

Place Published




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