by Mikhail Bulgakov
Translated from the Russian by Hugh Aplin
Young Dr. Bromgard has come to a small country town to assume a new practice. No sooner has he arrived than he receives word that a colleague, Dr. Polyakov, has fallen gravely ill. Before Bromgard can go to his friend’s aid, Polyakov is brought to his practice with a self-inflicted gunshot wound and, barely conscious, gives Bromgard his journal before dying. What Bromgard uncovers in the entries is Polyakov’s uncontrollable descent into a merciless morphine addiction — his first injection to ease his back pain, the thrill of the drug as it overtakes him, the looming signs of addiction, and the feverish final entries before his death.