Bulgakov, Mikhail Afanas’evich (Булгаков, Михаил) (1891–1940) By Dement, Sidney
Mikhail Bulgakov was a Russian prose writer and playwright. In the last 25 years of the Soviet Union’s existence Bulgakov was one of its most widely read and performed writers. This reception, which rescued Bulgakov from near obscurity, occurred posthumously with the partial publication of the novel Master i Margarita (Master and Margarita, written 1928–1940, partially published 1966–1967, fully published 1973). Bulgakov experienced severe censorship, especially after the success of his play about a monarchist, Kievan family during the years of the Russian Revolution and Civil War, Dni Turbinykh (The Days of the Turbins, 1926), a play that became the favourite of Joseph Stalin. For the rest of his professional and personal life Bulgakov struggled with the ambivalence of Stalin’s favour: he survived the Stalinist repression that took the lives and productivity of so many of his peers, and yet his works were repeatedly banned. In his writing Bulgakov addressed the moral and personal crises he experienced (war, revolution, censorship, hypocrisy, Soviet ideology, totalitarianism) with a unique mixture of literary fantasy, grotesque, humour, and irony.