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Late 19th Century Russian Magazines
January 19, 2013 4:19 PM   Subscribe

Why does Andrey Yefimitch, in Chekhov's *Ward No. 6*, read the last pages of The Doctor first?

"[T]he only medical publication to which he
 subscribed was The Doctor, of which he always read
 the last pages first."

Were medical magazines of this period in Russia  composed primarily of single articles? Did magazines in general follow certain prescribed methods for ordering articles?
posted by slowlikemolasses to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know about that journal, but I always used to read Time magazine back-to-front. That meant I read the culture/entertainment stuff before the political stuff. I'd bet there was a similar regularity in the layout of The Doctor, and I'd guess that it implies a similar lack of seriousness on the part of Yefimitch.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:04 PM on January 19, 2013


When I read that story, I assumed that the job advertisements were in the last pages, and that it was supposed to show that he felt trapped in the provincial hospital and dreamed of a new job.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:17 PM on January 19, 2013


I just looked at a copy of the magazine Russian Doctor (Russky Vrach) from 1906 that was on Google books. I scrolled at the way to the back of the volume and it was just an appendix that seemed to be listing articles in other medical journals (Russian and German.)

I feel that this answer must somehow be incorrect, but I thought I'd pass on what I saw.
posted by Area Man at 8:01 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone I know thinks that the last pages contained obituaries, the idea being, along the lines of what was proposed above, that he wasn't actually interested in furthering his medical knowledge.

Looking for evidence, the first thing I'd note is that there was no real magazine with that name. (This and other links are in Russian.) That's kind of expected.

One of the earliest (real) medical publications was a weekly newspaper called Friend of Health (Друг Здравия). Looking at some of the issues (1841), it seems that the last section was frequently a "bibliography," basically a survey of recent medical papers, including European ones. This is also what Area Man saw in the appendix of the Russian Doctor.

But the section immediately preceding it is "Current Events and Minor News" (including obituaries!). And in Friend of Health, the penultimate section (sometimes it was the very last one) contained minutes from meetings of the Society of Russian Doctors.

Another medical magazine, the Doctor-Homeopath (1905), has an obituary near the end, followed by an editorial, with advertisements at the very end (for ‘tooth elixir’, ‘tooth powder’, and ‘tooth paste’).

Having turned all these up, I'm now more comfortable with the theory that Andrey Yefimich starting his reading in the back illustrates his frivolousness and lack of serious interest in medicine.
posted by AnimalKing at 9:14 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Someone I know thinks that the last pages contained obituaries, the idea being, along the lines of what was proposed above, that he wasn't actually interested in furthering his medical knowledge.

But it doesn't say he only read the last pages, it says he started with them ("которого всегда начинает читать с конца"). I don't see how that implies that "he wasn't actually interested in furthering his medical knowledge"; I start reading the paper with the sports section, but you would be unwise in inferring anything about the place of sports in my intellectual life from that fact. The story makes it clear that Andrey Yefimych didn't want to be a doctor in the first place, and it's safe to assume he's not obsessed with furthering his medical knowledge (Vrach is, after all, the only professional journal he subscribes to), but I don't think you can make any assumptions from his starting it at the back.
posted by languagehat at 7:43 AM on January 20, 2013


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