Doctor Aybolit

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Doctor Aybolit on a 1993 Russian post stamp

Doctor Aybolit (Russian: Доктор Айболит, Doktor Aibolit) is a fictional character from the children's poems Aybolit (1929) and Barmaley (1925) by Korney Chukovsky, as well as from the children's fantastic novella Doctor Aybolit (1925) by the same author. The name may be translated as "Ouch, [it] hurts!"

The origins of Aybolit can be traced to Hugh Lofting's 1920 character Doctor Dolittle. Like Buratino by Aleksey Tolstoy or The Wizard of the Emerald City by Alexander Volkov, Doctor Aybolit stems from a loose adaptation by a Russian author of a foreign book. For example, the adaptation includes a Pushmi-pullyu, тяни-толкай (tyani-tolkay) in Russian. The prose adaptation always credited Lofting in the subtitle, while the Aybolit poems are original works.

The character became a recognizable feature of Russian culture. The poems found their following in the films Doktor Aybolit (black and white, 1938), Aybolit 66 (Mosfilm, 1967, English title: Oh How It Hurts 66), and Doctor Aybolit (animated film, Kievnauchfilm, 1985). The doctor's appearance and name appear in brand names, logos, and slogans of various medical establishments, candies, etc.

Barmaley on a 1993 Russian post stamp

Aybolit's antagonist, the evil pirate Barmaley, became an archetypal villain in Russian culture. Barmaley debuted in Chukovsky's book Barmaley in 1925, 13 years before the first film appearance of Aybolit.[1]

The poems Aybolit and Barmaley generated a number of Russian catchphrases such as "Nu spasibo tebe, Aybolit!" (Thanks to you, Aybolit), "Ne hodite, deti, v Afriku gulyat" (Children, don't go to Africa for a stroll). They were also the inspiration for the Barmaley Fountain in Stalingrad.

In 1967 Richard N. Coe published a loose English adaptation in verse entitled Doctor Concocter.[2] It starts: "Doctor Concocter sits under a tree, He's ever so clever, he has a degree!"

A living prototype of the character was Chukovsky's acquaintance, the Vilnian Jewish doctor Zemach Shabad (1864–1935), to whom a monument was dedicated in Vilnius on 16 May 2007. Speaking of Lithuania: in Lithuanian, Doctor Aybolit is called Daktaras Aiskauda.



  • Chukovsky, Kornei (1965), Doktor Aibolit, Harrap, p. 79, ISBN 978-0-245-58209-7
  • Chukovskiĭ, Korneĭ (1967), Richard N. Coe (ed.), Doctor Concocter, translated by Richard N. Coe, Oxford University Press, p. 24, ISBN 978-0-19-279633-2
  • Chukovsky, Kornei (1980), Doctor Powderpill, translated by D. Rottenberg, Central Books Ltd., ISBN 978-0-7147-1468-4
  • Chukovskii, Kornei (1980), Doktor Aibolit (in Russian), Znanie Bookstore, ISBN 978-5-88105-113-6
  • Chukovsky, Kornei (2004), Doctor Ouch, translated and illustrated by Jan Seabaugh, Smith Publishing, p. 43, ISBN 978-0-9740551-0-7
  • Chukovskii, Kornei (2004), Ajbolit (in Russian), Samovar, ISBN 978-5-85066-263-9
  • Čukovskij, Kornej (1999), Stichi i skazki: Ot dvuch do pjati (in Russian), Planeta detstva, p. 701, ISBN 978-5-236-00167-0. Extracts of Aybolit and Barmaley.[1][2]