Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov
Mikhail Bulgakov was born on May 3 (15), 1891 in Kyiv in the family of Afanasy Ivanovich Bulgakov (1859-1907), an associate professor at the Kyiv Theological Academy, and his wife Varvara Mikhailovna (nee Pokrovskaya) (1869-1922).
On August 18, 1900, Mikhail Bulgakov entered the preparatory class of the Second Kyiv Gymnasium, and on August 22, 1901, he entered the first class of the First Kyiv Men’s Alexander Gymnasium. On March 14, 1907, Mikhail Bulgakov’s father died of nephrosclerosis. In May 1909, Bulgakov graduated from the First Alexander Gymnasium, and on August 21 he was enrolled as a student at the medical faculty of Kyiv University. On April 26, 1915, the wedding of Mikhail Bulgakov with Tatyana Nikolaevna Lappa, the daughter of the manager of the Treasury Chamber, whom Mikhail met back in 1908, took place in the Kiev-Podolsk Church of St. Nicholas the Good (the Saratov high school student came to Kyiv for the holidays).
Afanasy Ivanovich Bulgakov
From the summer of 1917, Bulgakov began to regularly use morphine: after he was forced to vaccinate himself against diphtheria, fearing infection due to a tracheotomy in a sick child, the severe itching began to drown out with morphine; as a result, drug use has become a habit. On September 18, 1917, Bulgakov, who received a certificate from the Sychevsk district zemstvo council stating that he “has proven himself to be an energetic and tireless worker,” was transferred to the Vyazemsky city zemstvo hospital as head of the infectious and venereal department. In the autumn of 1917, Mikhail Bulgakov began work on a series of autobiographical stories about medical practice at the Nikolskaya Hospital. In December 1917, he first came to Moscow, staying with his uncle, the famous Moscow doctor N.M. Pokrovsky (the prototype of Professor Preobrazhensky from the story “Heart of a Dog”).
Stills from the film “Heart of a Dog”
“Well, give me a cigarette, you have striped trousers!”
“Isadora Duncan can dine in the living room and operate in the bathroom. But I am not Isadora Duncan.”
From “Letter to the Government of the USSR” by Mikhail Bulgakov dated March 28, 1930: “After analyzing my scrapbooks, I found 301 reviews about me in the USSR press over the ten years of my literary work. . […] They wrote “about Bulgakov, who will remain what he was, a new-bourgeois offspring, splashing poisoned, but powerless saliva on the working class and its communist ideals” (“Koms. Pravda”, 14 / X-1926). I do not prove with documents in the hands that the entire press of the USSR, and with it all the institutions entrusted with the control of the repertoire, during all the years of my literary work unanimously and with extraordinary fury proved that the works of Mikhail Bulgakov in the USSR cannot exist. And I declare that the press of the USSR is absolutely right. […] I ASK THE GOVERNMENT OF THE USSR TO ORDER ME TO LEAVE THE LIMITS OF THE USSR ASAP, ACCOMPANIED BY MY WIFE LYUBOV EVGENEVNA BULGAKOVA. I appeal to the humanity of the Soviet government and ask me, a writer who cannot be useful at home, in the fatherland, to generously set me free. If, however, what I wrote is unconvincing, and I am doomed to lifelong silence in the USSR, I ask the Soviet Government to give me a job in my specialty and send me to the theater to work as a full-time director.”
Among the works: Sketches of a Zemstvo Doctor (1919; an early edition of the cycle Notes of a Young Doctor), Self-Defense (1920; a humorous play in one act; premiered on June 4, 1920 on the stage of the First Soviet Theater of Vladikavkaz), The Turbin Brothers (“The hour has struck”; 1920; drama; premiere – October 21, 1920 at the First Soviet Theater of Vladikavkaz), “Crimson Island” (1924, staged in 1928, comedy), “The Devil” (1925, a collection of satirical stories), “Fatal Eggs” (1925, published in 1987, satirical fantasy story), Heart of a Dog (1925, published in 1987, satirical fantasy story), Notes of a Young Doctor (1925-1926), The White Guard (1925-1927, novel) , “Days of the Turbins“(1925-1927, a play based on the novel “The White Guard”, staged in 1926), “Stories” (1926, a collection of satirical stories and feuilletons), “A Treatise on Life” (1926, a collection of satirical stories and feuilletons), “Zoykin apartment” (staged in 1926, comedy), “Running” (1926-1928, play staged in 1957), “The Master and Margarita” (1929-1940, published 1966-1967, philosophical novel), “The Cabal of the Saints” (“Molière”, 1930-1936, staged 1943, historical drama), “The Life of Monsieur de Molière” (1932-1933, published 1962, biographical story), “The Last Days” (“Pushkin”, 1934-1935, staged 1943, historical drama), “Theatrical Romance” (“Notes of a Dead Man”, 1936-1937, published in 1965, not finished, ironic paraphrase of the history of the Moscow Art Theater 1920- x years)
“People are like people. They love money, but it has always been… Mankind loves money, no matter what it is made of, whether it is leather, paper, bronze or gold. Well, they are frivolous … well, well … ordinary people … in general, they resemble the former ones … the housing problem only spoiled them … ”
(“The Master and Margarita” Woland)
“Excuse me, queen, would I allow myself to pour vodka for a lady? It’s pure alcohol!”
“It’s good to hear that you treat the cat so politely. For some reason, cats usually say you, although not a single cat has ever drunk brotherhood with anyone.”
Gella and the cat Behemoth
In one of the quietest corners of the Novodevichy cemetery, two tombstones stand opposite each other. Rather, only one looks into the sky, the other is so small that a sign with the name of the deceased could barely fit on it. But the name, which is written on a black stone, really rises. However, the point is not at all in the monuments, but in their history. Both Gogol and Bulgakov are called the most famous Russian mystics, although, of course, one cannot limit their achievements to mere anomalies. But not only the common genre forever linked the two classics. Bulgakov died in 1940. In his will, he specified that a stone be placed on his grave. But where was Elena Sergeevna, a widow, to get money for a stone?
Bulgakov was never the favorite of the Soviet government, unlike the “tame” writers of the party. So Mikhail Afanasyevich and his family lived all their lives in some kind of disgrace, sometimes existed on the verge of poverty. Seventeen years have passed. The already quite elderly Bulgakova still did not give up hope to fulfill the will of her husband. And in 1957 Gogol’s body was transferred to the Novodevichy Cemetery. A new magnificent monument was placed on his grave, and the old one, made of black basalt, was simply broken and thrown away. And after a while, Elena Sergeevna discovered it, wandering around the cemetery dump in search of the stone.
Seeing a piece of black shiny basalt, reminiscent of the silhouette of the famous cat Behemoth, the writer’s widow asked to install this sparkling piece on Bulgakov’s grave. And so it happened that the current monument to Bulgakov is the former monument to Gogol. Paradoxically, both mystics lie opposite each other. It only remains to add that Gogol was Bulgakov’s favorite writer. From him, Mikhail Afanasyevich accepted his last gift.
“Yes, man is mortal, but that would be half the trouble. The bad thing is that he sometimes suddenly dies, that’s the trick!” (Woland)
“The time will come when there will be no power of Caesars or any other power. Man will pass into the realm of truth and justice, where no power will be needed at all.”