May 01, 2021

Mikhail Bulgakov



Mikhail Bulgakov
Mikhail Bulgakov

Reactions to Mikhail Bulgakov have changed so radically over the past hundred years, it is sometimes hard to believe that they all pertain to the same man – the revered author of The Master and Margarita we know today.

If official reviews are to be believed, in the 1920s, this doctor-turned-writer was not just on the literary sidelines – he was relegated to a fetid cultural trash heap. Back in the 1970s, Marietta Chudakova, a leading scholar of Bulgakov’s works, published an overview of the writer’s archive that included quotes from reviews of his works in the 1920s. These reviews make the sorts of hateful attacks we see on social media today look civil. And whereas today, when someone spatters you with vitriolic dirt on Facebook, you can at least respond, in the 1920s, Bulgakov, of course, had no way to defend himself against his critics.

He did have some early successes. In 1926, his novel The White Guard was adapted for the stage as Days of the Turbins and performed to a packed house at the prestigious and popular Moscow Art Theater. But by the late 1920s the first Five-Year Plan had arrived and the pressure on writers from the ideological press was intensifying. Bulgakov was banished from the Moscow Art Theater. Like many of the early Soviet “fellow travelers” who were not enthusiastic supporters of the regime but also not vocal opponents, Bulgakov appeared doomed to a meager existence and ultimate obscurity.


Digital Subscription Required

Get unlimited digital access for just $2 a month.

Don't have an account? signup

Tags: bulgakov

See Also

36: Bulgakov

36: Bulgakov

This issue showcases the abilities of one of the twentieth century's finest writers, Mikhail Bulgakov, a literary chameleon able to work in an impressive variety of genres against a rapidly changing political background.   
Mikhail Bulgakov: A Wolf's Life

Mikhail Bulgakov: A Wolf's Life

By most accounts, Mikhail Bulgakov was Russia's most talented writer of fiction in the 20th century. For not only was he gifted with prose, but he also showed uncommon courage in the face of mounting oppression. Edythe Haber gives us a glimpse of this amazing writer's life and work.
Bulgakov's Post Horses

Bulgakov's Post Horses

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have translated Bulgakov's most "difficult" work: The Master and Margarita, as well as many of Russia's msot famous works of fiction. Editor Mikhail Ivanov sat down with them in Paris to talk about Bulgakov, the translator's art, and Russian literature.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

800-639-4301
802-223-4955