Книга: Mikhail Bulgakov «Black Snow»

Black Snow

Серия: "-"

When Maxudov's bid to take his own life fails, he dramatises the novel whose failure provoked the suicide attempt. To the resentment of literary Moscow, his play is accepted by the legendary Independent Theatre and Maxudov plunges into a vortex of inflated egos. With each rehearsal more sparks fly and the chances of the play being ready to perform recede. Black Snow is the ultimate back-stage novel and a brilliant satire by the author of The Master and Margarita on his ten-year love-hate relationship with Stanislavsky, Method-acting and the Moscow Arts Theatre.

Издательство: "Random House, Inc." (2005)

ISBN: 978-0-09-947932-1

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A Dead Man's Memoir: A Theatrical NovelThis is Bulgakov's semi-autobiographical story of a writer who fails to sell his novel and fails to commit suicide. When his play is taken up by the theatre, literary success beckons, but he has… — Penguin Group, Penguin Classics Подробнее...2007998бумажная книга
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Mikhail Bulgakov

Mikhail Bulgakov
Born May 15 [O.S. May 3] 1891
Kiev, Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine)
Died 10 March 1940(1940-03-10) (aged 48)
Moscow, Soviet Union (present-day Russian Federation)
Occupation novelist & playwright
Nationality Russian
Ethnicity Russian[1]
Genres Fantastic, Satire
Spouse(s) Tatiana Lappa 1913-1924
Lubov Belozerskaya 1924-1932
Elena Shilovskaya 1932-1940
(his death)

Mikhaíl Afanásyevich Bulgákov (Russian: Михаи́л Афана́сьевич Булга́ков, May 15 [O.S. May 3] 1891, Kiev – March 10, 1940, Moscow) was a Soviet Russian writer and playwright active in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his novel The Master and Margarita, which The Times of London has called one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.[2]



Mikhail Bulgakov was born on May 15, 1891 in Kiev, at that time in the Russian Empire. He was one of seven children (the oldest of three brothers) of Afanasiy Bulgakov, an assistant professor at the Kiev Theological Academy, and a former teacher Varvara Mikhailovna. Both of his grandfathers were clergymen in the Russian Orthodox Church.[3] Friendship, respect, and mutual love reigned in Bulgakov's large family and happy home. From childhood Bulgakov was drawn to theater. At home, he wrote comedies, which his brothers and sisters acted out.[4]

In 1901 Bulgakov joined the First Kiev Gymnasium, where he developed an interest in Russian and European literature (his favorite authors at the time being Gogol, Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Saltykov-Shchedrin, and Dickens), theatre and opera. The teachers of the Gymnasium exerted a great influence on the formation of his literary taste. After the death of his father in 1907, Mikhail's mother, a well-educated and extraordinary diligent person, assumed responsibility for his education. After graduation from the Gymnasium in 1909,[5] Bulgakov entered the Medical Faculty of St. Vladimir University, which he finished with special commendation to become a physician at the Kiev Military Hospital.[6]

Bulgakov in 1909.

In 1913 Bulgakov married Tatiana Lappa. At the outbreak of the First World War he volunteered with the Red Cross as a medical doctor and was sent directly to the frontline, where he was badly injured at least twice. Bulgakov suffered from his long-acting war wounds, which had a bad effect on his health. To suppress chronic pain, especially in the abdomen, he injected himself with morphine. Throughout the following year[when?] his addiction grew stronger. In one year (in 1918) he finished injecting himself with morphine and never used it in the future. His book, entitled Morphine and released in 1926, provided an account of the writer's state during these years.

In 1916, Bulgakov graduated from the Medical Department of Kiev University and, after serving as a surgeon at Chernovtsy hospital, was appointed provincial physician to Smolensk province. His life in those days were is reflected in his Country Doctor's Notebook.[6] In September 1917 Bulgakov was moved to the hospital in Vyazma, near Smolensk. In February 1918, Mikhail Bulgakov returned to Kiev where he opened a private practice at his home at Andreyevsky Descent, 13. Here he experienced the Russian Civil War and witnessed ten coups. Several times successive governments drafted the young doctor into their service while two of his brothers were serving in the White Army. In February 1919 he was mobilised as an army physician by the Ukrainian People's Army and then transferred to the Northern Caucasus. There he became seriously ill with typhus and barely survived.[6][7] It was in the Caucasus that he started working as a journalist, but when they were invited to return as doctors by the French and German governments, Bulgakov was refused permission to leave Russia because of typhus. That was when he last saw his family; most of his relatives after the Civil War and rise of the Soviets emigrated to Paris.

After illness Bulgakov abandoned his career as a doctor for that of a writer. In his autobiography, Bulgakov recalled how he started writing: "Once in 1919 when I was traveling at night by train I wrote a short story. In the town where the train stopped, I took the story to the publisher of the newspaper who published the story".[6] Though his first fiction efforts were made in Kiev, he only decided to leave medicine to pursue his love of literature in 1919. His first book was an almanac of feuilletons called Future Perspectives, written and published the same year. In December 1919 Bulgakov moved to Vladikavkas and here he wrote and saw his first two plays, Self Defence and The Turbin Brothers, being produced for the city theater stage with great success.[5][6]

Bulgakov in the 1910s - his university years.

After travelling through the Caucasus, Bulgakov headed for Moscow, intending "to remain here forever". It was difficult to find work in the capital, but he was appointed secretary to the literary section of Glavpolitprosvet.[6] In September 1921 Bulgakov and his wife settled near Patriarch's Ponds, close to Mayakovskaya metro station on the Bolshaya Sadovaya street, 10. To make a living, he started working as a correspondent and feuilletons-writer for the newspapers Gudok, Krasnaia Panorama and Nakanune, based in Berlin.[6] For the almanac Nedra, he wrote Diaboliad, The Fatal Eggs(1924), and Heart of a Dog (1925), works that combined bitter satire and elements of science fiction and were concerned with the fate of a scientist and the misuse of his discovery. The most significant features of Bulgakov's satire, such as a skillful blending of fantastic and realistic elements, grotesque situations, and a concern with important ethical issues, had already taken shape; these features were developed further in his most famous novel.[4]

In 1922-1926 Bulgakov wrote several plays (including Zoyka's Apartment) none of which were allowed for production at the time.[5] One of them, The Run, treating the horrors of a fratricidal war, has been banned by Stalin personally after the Glavrepertkom (Department of repertoire) decided that it "glorified emigration and White generals".[6] In 1925 Bulgakov divorced his first wife and married Lyubov Belozerskaya.

When one of one of Moscow's theatre directors severely criticised Bulgakov, Josef Stalin personally protected him, stating that a writer of Bulgakov's quality was above 'party words' like 'left' and 'right'.[8] It was Stalin who found work for the playwright at a small Moscow theatre, and then the Moscow Art Theatre. On October 5, 1926, Days of the Turbins, the play which continued the theme of The White Guard (the fate of Russian intellectuals and officers of the Tsarist Army caught up in revolution and Civil war)[4] was premiered at the MAT[5] It impressed Stalin a lot, who reportedly saw it at least fifteen times. Ivan Vasilievich, Last Days (Pushkin), and Don Quixote were also banned. The premier of another, Molier (The Cabal of Hypocrites), which saw Bulgakov plunging "into fairy Paris of the XVII century", received bad review in Pravda and was withdrawn from the theater repertoire.[6] In 1928, Zoyka's Apartment and The Purple Island were staged in Moscow; both comedies were accepted by public with great enthusiasm, but critics gave them bad reviews.[6] In march 1929 his career was ruined, and government censorship prevented publication of any of his work and staging of any of his plays.[5]

In despair, Bulgakov wrote first a personal letter to Josef Stalin (July 1929), then on March 28, 1930, a letter to the Soviet government,[9] requesting permission to emigrate if the Soviet Union could not find use for him as a writer.[6] In autobiography[clarification needed] Bulgakov claimed that he wrote to Stalin out of desperation and mental anguish, never intending to post the letter. He received a phone call directly from the Soviet leader who asked the writer whether he really desired to leave the Soviet Union. Bulgakov replied that a Russian writer cannot live outside of his homeland. Stalin gave him permission to continue working at the Art Theater; on May 10, 1930,[5] he re-joined the theater, no as stage director's assistant, and later adapted Gogol's Dead Souls for stage.[4]

In 1932, Bulgakov married for the third time, to Yelena Shilovskaya, who would prove to be inspiration for the character Margarita in his most famous novel he started working on in 1928.[6] During the last decade of his life, Bulgakov continued to work on The Master and Margarita, wrote plays, critical works, stories, and made several translations and dramatisations of novels, librettos. Many of them were not published, other ones were "torn to pieces" by critics. Much of his work (ridiculing the Soviet system) stayed in his desk drawer for several decades.

The refusal of the authorities to let him work in the theatre and his desire to see his family living abroad, whom he had not seen for many years, led him to seek drastic measures[clarification needed]. Despite his new work, the projects he worked on at the theatre were often prohibited and he was stressed and unhappy.

In the late 1930s he joined Bolshoi Theatre as a librettist and consultant, but left as he saw none of his works would be produced there. Stalin's favor protected Bulgakov only from arrests and executions, but his writings remained unpublished. His novels and dramas were subsequently banned and, for the second time, Bulgakov's career as playwright was ruined. After his last play Batum (1939), a complimentary look at Stalin's early revolutionary days,[10] was banned even before rehearsals, Bulgakov requested permission to leave the country which again resulted in failure. In poor health, Bulgakov devoted his last years to what he called his "sunset" novel. 1937-1939 for Bulgakov were stressful years as he veered from glimpses of optimism, believing the publication of his masterpiece could still be possible, to bouts of depression, when he felt like there was no hope altogether. On June 15, 1938, when the manuscript was nearly finished, Bulgakov wrote in a letter to his wife: "In front of me 327 pages of the manuscript (about 22 chapters). The most important remains - editing, and it's going to be hard, I will have to pay close attention to details. Maybe even re-write some things... 'What's its future?' you ask? I don't know. Possibly, you will store the manuscript in one of the drawers, next to my 'killed' plays, and occasionally it will be in your thoughts. Then again, you don't know the future. My own judgement of the book is already made and I think it truly deserves being hidden away in the darkness of some chest..."[4]

In 1939 Mikhail Bulgakov organized the private reading of The Master and Margarita to the close circle of friends. "When he finally finished reading that night, he said: 'Well, tomorrow I am taking the novel to the publisher!' and everyone was silent", remembered Yelena Bulgakova thirty years later. "...Everyone sat paralyzed. Everything scared them. P. (P. A. Markov, in charge of the literature division of MAT) later at the door fearfully tried to explain to me that trying to publish the novel would cause terrible things", she wrote on May 14, 1939, in her diary.[4]

Mikhail Bulgakov died from nephrosclerosis (an inherited kidney disorder) on March 10, 1940. He was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. His father had died of the same disease, and from his youth Bulgakov guessed his future mortal diagnosis.

Early works

During his life, Bulgakov was best known for the plays he contributed to Konstantin Stanislavsky's and Nemirovich-Danchenko's Moscow Art Theatre. Stalin was known to be fond of the play Days of the Turbins (Дни Турбиных) (1926), which was based on Bulgakov's novel The White Guard. His dramatization of Molière's life in The Cabal of Hypocrites (Кабала святош)(1936) is still performed by the Moscow Art Theatre. Even after his plays were banned from the theatres, Bulgakov wrote a comedy about Ivan the Terrible's visit into 1930s Moscow and the play "Batum" about the early years of Stalin (1939), which was prohibited by Stalin himself.

Bulgakov began writing prose with The White Guard (Белая гвардия) (1924, partly published in 1925, first full edition 1927–1929, Paris) – a novel about a life of a White Army officer's family in civil war Kiev. In the mid-1920s, he came to admire the works of H. G. Wells and wrote several stories with elements of science fiction, notably The Fatal Eggs (Роковые яйца) (1924) and Heart of a Dog (Собачье сердце) (1925). He intended to compile his stories of the mid-twenties (published mostly in medical journals) that were based on his work as a country doctor in 1916–1918 into a collection titled Notes of a Young Doctor (Записки юного врача), but he died before he could publish it.[11]

Bulgakov with wife Elena in 1939

The Fatal Eggs tells of the events of a Professor Persikov, who, in experimentation with eggs, discovers a red ray that accelerates growth in living organisms. At the time, an illness passes through the chickens of Moscow, killing most of them and, to remedy the situation, the Soviet government puts the ray into use at a farm. Unfortunately, there is a mix up in egg shipments and the Professor ends up with chicken eggs, while the government-run farm receives the shipment of ostrich, snake and crocodile eggs that were meant to go to the Professor. The mistake is not discovered until the eggs produce giant monstrosities that wreak havoc in the suburbs of Moscow and kill most of the workers on the farm. The propaganda machine then turns on Persikov, distorting his nature in the same way his "innocent" tampering created the monsters. This tale of a bungling government earned Bulgakov his label of a counter-revolutionary.

Heart of a Dog features a professor who implants human testicles and pituitary gland into a dog named Sharik (means "Little Balloon" or "Little Ball" - popular Russian nickname for a male dog). The dog then proceeds to become more and more human as time passes, resulting in all manner of chaos. The tale can be read as a critical satire of the Soviet Union; it contains few bold hints to communist leadership (e.g. the name of the drunkard donor of the human organ implants is Chugunkin ("chugun" is cast iron) which can be seen as parody on the name of Stalin ("stal'" is steel). It was turned into a comic opera called The Murder of Comrade Sharik by William Bergsma in 1973. In 1988 an award-winning movie version Sobachye Serdtse was produced by Lenfilm, starring Yevgeniy Yevstigneyev, Roman Kartsev and Vladimir Tolokonnikov.

The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita (Мастер и Маргарита), which Bulgakov began writing in 1928 and which was finally published by his widow in 1966, twenty-six years after his death, led to an international appreciation of his work. The book contributed a number of sayings to the Russian language, for example, "Manuscripts don't burn" and "second-grade freshness". A destroyed manuscript of the Master is an important element of the plot, and, in fact, Bulgakov had to rewrite the novel from memory after he burned the draft manuscript of this novel.

The novel is a critique of Soviet society and its literary establishment. The work is appreciated for its philosophical undertones and for its high artistic level thanks to its picturesque descriptions (especially of old Jerusalem), lyrical fragments and style. It is a frame narrative involving two characteristically related time periods and/or plot lines: a retelling of the gospels and a description of contemporary Moscow.

The novel begins with Satan visiting Moscow in the 1930s, joining a conversation between a critic and a poet debating the existence of Jesus Christ and the Devil. It then evolves into an all-embracing indictment of the corruption, greed, narrow-mindedness, and widespread paranoia of Soviet Russia. Published more than 25 years after Bulgakov's death, and more than ten years after Stalin's, the novel firmly secured Bulgakov's place among the pantheon of great Russian writers.

There is a story-within-the-story dealing with the interrogation of Jesus Christ by Pontius Pilate and the Crucifixion.


Bulgakov Museum in Moscow

Detail, Bulgakov Museum in Moscow

Bulgakov's old flat, and the attic of the apartment building, in which parts of The Master and Margarita are set, has since the 1980s become a gathering spot for Bulgakov's fans, as well as Moscow-based Satanist groups[citation needed], and had various kinds of graffiti scrawled on the walls. The numerous paintings, quips, and drawings were completely whitewashed in 2003. Previously the best drawings were kept as the walls were repainted, so that several layers of different colored paints could be seen around the best drawings. Although quite old,the building stayed viable for a while.[12]

Since 2007 the flat is the Bulgakov museum in Moscow. It contains personal belongings, photos, and exhibitions related to Bulgakov's life and his different works. Various poetic and literary events are often being held in the flat. The museum's web site is available in Russian and English.

Mikhail Bulgakov Museum

The Mikhail Bulgakov Museum (Bulgakov House) in Kiev, (in his family home, which was the model for the house of the Turbin family in The White Guard) has been converted to a literary museum with some rooms devoted to the writer, as well as some to his works[13] .

One Street Museum

One Street Museum

Mikhail Bulgakov is the most outstanding name related to Andrew’s Descent. Before he was known as a writer he was a doctor specializing in treatment of venereal diseases. He lived in house №13 and practiced here. Among the items presented on the One Street Museum's display are original photos of Mikhail Bulgakov, books and his personal belongings. Museum also presents materials, related to the circle of professors of Kiev Theological Academy, who used to live here at the turn of 20th century and were friends and colleagues of Bulgakov's father.


A minor planet 3469 Bulgakov discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Georgievna Karachkina in 1982 is named after him.[14]

The award-winning British writer Salman Rushdie stated that The Master and Margarita was an inspiration for his own novel The Satanic Verses.

On May 15, 2011, A Google Doodle in Russia was dedicated to him to celebrate his 120th birthday.[15]

Famous quotes

The following quotes from The Master and Margarita[16] have become catchphrases in Russia:

  • "Manuscripts don't burn" ("Рукописи не горят")
  • "There's only one degree of freshness — the first, which makes it also the last" ("Свежесть бывает только одна – первая, она же и последняя")
  • "Not causing trouble, not bothering anyone, fixing the primus" ("Не шалю, никого не трогаю, починяю примус") - (a "primus" is a brand, and by extension type, of portable stove)
  • "No ID, no person" ("Нет документа - нет и человека")
  • "Never ask for anything" ("Никогда и ничего не просите")
  • "To speak truth is easy and pleasant" ("Правду говорить легко и приятно")

The following quotes from Heart of a Dog [17] have become catchphrases in Russia:

  • "Never read Soviet newspapers before dinner" ("Не читайте до обеда советских газет")
  • "Take everything and divide it up" ("Взять все, да и поделить")


In chronological order by year of first translation:

Novels and short stories

  • The White Guard (1926, translation 2008)
  • Great Soviet Short Stories (1962)
  • The Master and Margarita (1967)
  • Black Snow: A Theatrical Novel (1967)
  • Heart of a Dog (1968)
  • A Country Doctor's Notebook (1975)
  • Diaboliad and Other Stories (1990)
  • The Terrible News: Russian Stories from the Years Following the Revolution (1990)
  • Notes on the Cuff & Other Stories(1991)
  • The Fatal Eggs and Other Soviet Satire, 1918-1963 (1993)
  • A Dead Man's Memoir (A Theatrical Novel) (2007)


  • The Early Plays of Mikhail Bulgakov, 1990
  • Peace plays: two, 1990
  • Zoya's apartment: A tragic farce in three acts, 1991
  • Six plays, 1991


  • Life of Mr. de Molière, 1962


  1. ^ Edythe C. Haber. Mikhail Bulgakov: the early years. Harvard University Press. 1998. p. 23
  2. ^ Neel Mukherjee (May 9, 2008). "The Master and Margarita: A graphic novel by Mikhail Bulgakov". London: The Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/fiction/article3901149.ece. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  3. ^ Lesley Milne. Mikhail Bulgakov: A Critical Biography. Cambridge University Press. 2009. p. 5
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Mikhail Bulgakov Biography". www.homeenglish.ru. http://www.homeenglish.ru/ArticlesBulgakov.htm. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Bulgakov timeline /Краткая хроника жизни и творчества М.А.Булгакова". www.m-a-bulgakov.ru. http://www.m-a-bulgakov.ru/hronika.html. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Katherine Konchakovska and Bohdan Yasinsky (1998). "Mikhail Bulgakov in the Western World: A Bibliography". Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/rr/european/bulgaklc.html. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  7. ^ {Виленский Ю. Г. Доктор Булгаков. Под ред. Т. И. Борисовой. Киев. Изд. Здоровье. 1991. Стр. 99-103. ISBN 5-311-00639-0
  8. ^ Simon Sebag Montefiore, p. 110. swedish edition of Stalin: The red tsar and his court.
  9. ^ "Михаил Афанасьевич Булгаков. Письмо правительству СССР". lib.ru/Новый мир, 1987, N8.. http://lib.ru/BULGAKOW/b_letter.txt. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  10. ^ "Батум. Комментарии". lib.ru. http://lib.ru/BULGAKOW/batum.txt. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  11. ^ Coulehan, Jack (1999-11-09). "Literature Annotations: Bulgakov, Mikhail - A Country Doctor's Notebook". Literature Arts and Medicine Database. New York University. http://litmed.med.nyu.edu/Annotation?action=view&annid=207. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 
  12. ^ Stephen, Chris. "Devil-worshippers target famous writer's Moscow flat". The Irish Times, Saturday, February 5, 2005. Page 9.
  13. ^ Inna Konchakovskaia (1902–85) a daughter of the owner (who had become a hero of Bulgakov's novel) and niece of composer Witold Maliszewski preserved for Kiev this unique house during hard soviet times [1]
  14. ^ . http://books.google.com/books?hl=ru&q=3461+Mandelshtam+1977. 
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ M.Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita, NYPL
  17. ^ M.Bulgakov, The Heart of a Dog, NYPL

External links

Источник: Mikhail Bulgakov

См. также в других словарях:

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  • black snow — /blæk ˈsnoʊ/ (say blak snoh) noun Colloquial the burnt trash from sugarcane fields, carried by the wind. Also, Burdekin snow; Brisbane Region, Bundy snow …  

  • Snow — Snow, n. [OE. snow, snaw, AS. sn[=a]w; akin to D. sneeuw, OS. & OHG. sn[=e]o, G. schnee, Icel. sn[ae]r, snj[=o]r, snaj[=a]r, Sw. sn[ o], Dan. snee, Goth. snaiws, Lith. sn[ e]gas, Russ. snieg , Ir. & Gael. sneachd, W. nyf, L. nix, nivis, Gr. acc.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Snow bunting — Snow Snow, n. [OE. snow, snaw, AS. sn[=a]w; akin to D. sneeuw, OS. & OHG. sn[=e]o, G. schnee, Icel. sn[ae]r, snj[=o]r, snaj[=a]r, Sw. sn[ o], Dan. snee, Goth. snaiws, Lith. sn[ e]gas, Russ. snieg , Ir. & Gael. sneachd, W. nyf, L. nix, nivis, Gr.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • snow chukor — Snow Snow, n. [OE. snow, snaw, AS. sn[=a]w; akin to D. sneeuw, OS. & OHG. sn[=e]o, G. schnee, Icel. sn[ae]r, snj[=o]r, snaj[=a]r, Sw. sn[ o], Dan. snee, Goth. snaiws, Lith. sn[ e]gas, Russ. snieg , Ir. & Gael. sneachd, W. nyf, L. nix, nivis, Gr.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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