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Bulgakov, Mikhail

published revolution life russia

(Soviet, 1891–1940)

Bulgakov trained as a doctor but devoted himself to writing after the Russian Revolution. Throughout his life he had trouble with the censors. Moving to Moscow from his native Kiev he concentrated on the theatre, especially science fiction satires, but without much success. The White Guard (1925), set in Kiev during the Russian Revolution, was his first major novel. It was published in Paris in 1928, the year he started The Master and Margarita, which was to occupy him for the rest of his life. The Master and Margarita is a fantastical and mesmeric mix; a grim comedy featuring the appearance of the Devil in contemporary Russia, interspersed with chapters inspired by the Bible, it loosens the bounds of Socialist Realism, satirizing Stalinism. Regarded now as a twentieth-century classic, a version was published in 1967, when copies appeared simultaneously in Russia, Germany, New York, and London, and it was finally published in full in 1973.

Salman Rushdie, Italo Calvino.


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