5 December 2012 4:59 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Mikhail Bulgakov's chaotic account of his early career in medicine has been adapted for TV, with Daniel Radcliffe and John Hamm as the leads. Writer Alan Connor on the precision surgery involved

Like Chekhov, Mikhail Bulgakov was a doctor before he was a writer. He started writing at 29, and before then got to know plenty about the absurdity and intensity of medical practice. He had met a lot of people, and sawn off some of their legs.

After graduating from medical school in 1917, Bulgakov was sent to run a hospital in the remote Smolensk province, where his patients lived a brutal, essentially medieval existence. He turned these experiences into a series of short stories, collected in A Young Doctor's Notebook, a fictional account of a nameless doctor whose experience largely overlaps with its author's. His young doctor discovers that childbirth and tracheotomies go much faster, and get a lot messier, »

- Alan Connor

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