Bulgakov, Mikhail Afanas’yevich
- Andrew Clements
(b Kiev, May 14, 1891; d Moscow, March 10, 1940). Soviet novelist . He graduated in medicine from Kiev University in 1916 but soon abandoned that career to work as a writer, travelling throughout Russia before settling in Moscow in 1921. His first success was in 1926, with the play Dni Turbinykh (‘The Day of the Turbinykh’), a dramatization of his own novel Belaya gvardiya (‘The White Guard’). The play was later suppressed; in fact all his work was banned by Stalin from 1929. Bulgakov’s masterpiece, Master i Margarita (‘The Master and Margarita’, 1938), an allegorical novel about the Stalinist terrors, remained unpublished until 1966. Its exotic mixture of fantasy and satire – the devil incarnated in Moscow interwoven with a retelling of the Crucifixion from the viewpoint of Pontius Pilate – prefigured ‘magic realism’; its operatic potential has attracted several composers, including Slonimsky (1989, concert perf.), Rainer Kunad (...