Mikhail Bulgakov by Chudakova Marietta;

Mikhail Bulgakov by Chudakova Marietta;

Author:Chudakova, Marietta;
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Glagoslav Publications Ltd

Chapter Three

A Theatrical Five Years (1925-1929)


The most “theatrical” period in Bulgakov’s life began on 19th January 1925, when he “started sketching the bare bones”, as he wrote in his diary, for the play version of The White Guard.

Issue No. 4 of Rossiya came out in the first few months of the new year, containing the start of the novel The White Guard, and meanwhile the next issue of the journal, containing the next part of the novel, was being proofread. In February, the sixth Nedra almanac came out, with the story The Fateful Eggs (it was printed almost simultaneously – initially with the title The Red Beam (Krasnyy Luch) – in the weekly journal Krasnaya Panorama (Red Panorama). Bulgakov, however, had stopped working on the play and was wholly engaged in a new story, which he was writing for Nedra. The manuscript for this one contains the dates “January – March 1925”. On 14th February, a new member of staff at Nedra, B.L. Leontiev, sends him a greetings card, informing him that N.S. Angarsky would like to see him “on Sunday, 15th February at 7 in the evening for a literary recitation. Please bring with you the manuscript for The Heart of a Dog and read from it. N.S. is looking forward to seeing you and your wife there.” Just a few days after this recitation, during which Angarsky clearly took a liking to the story, to judge by his subsequent behaviour, Leontiev sends Bulgakov another card: “Dear M.A. Hurry up, work as fast as you can to provide us with your story The Heart of a Dog. N.S. may go abroad in 2-3 weeks and we won’t have time to get the thing through Glavlit. And without them, we’re unlikely to get anywhere. If you don’t want to see the work perish until the autumn – hurry, hurry!”

Bulgakov had apparently read from a rough draft to Angarsky and was now hurriedly finishing it off (perhaps taking into account some ideas put forward by Angarsky and others who had heard the story) and preparing it for re-printing.

On 7th March, Bulgakov read the first part of the story at a “Nikitinska Saturday” meeting. He went to the recitation with Lyubov Yevgenievna. Among the 45 people present were M. Kozyrev and Ada Vladimirovna, Sofiya Parnok, V. Lidin and Vera Inber; on 21st March, he read the second part. On this occasion, one of the listeners, M.Y. Schneider, made a rather important point: “This is the first literary work that dares simply to be itself. The time has come for the ‘making real’ of our attitude to what is happening.” Commenting on the “perfectly pure and precise Russian language”, the speaker talked of the “strength of the author”, who is “higher than his task”.

Y.N. Potekhin talked about Bulgakov’s place in the literary process, about the explanatory force of the story: “The fantasy in Mikhail Afanasievich’s work merges organically with an acute portrayal of the grotesque in everyday life. The elements of fantasy operate with extraordinary force and are extremely convincing.


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