Mikhail Afanasievich Bulgakov (1891 - 1940)

Mikhail Afanasievich Bulgakov is one of the best-loved and popular writers in modern Russia. He was born in Kiev in a large and united family of a theological seminary professor. The young people in the family circle had inclinations for theatre and musical improvisations. Here the writer's talent arose; his outlook was formed absorbing such important notions as Motherland, home, hearth and a feeling of family coziness.

At the beginning of the World War I Bulgakov, a medical student worked in military hospitals and having received his diploma practiced in regional hospitals in the backwoods of Russia. There he was caught with the Revolution of 1917. Despite the fact that he saw the complete tragedy of «Russian civil strife», the Revolution did not touch the inner organization of his soul since all spiritual and creational sources of his individuality were connected with the culture of the «Golden Age» of Russian literature (XIX century).

Having returned to Kiev in 1918 he, by his own admission, was called up for medical service by one local authority occupying the city after another». The events of those years were reflected in a novel «Belaya Gvardia» and in a play «Dni Turbinykh» written on the basis of the latter. Before 1921 Bulgakov had lived in the Caucasus where he began to practice literature seriously. In 1921 he arrived in Moscow to «conquer» it. However, he had to do literary work paid by the day in newspapers and collaborate in different institutions. «A lottery-ticket with a sign‘death’ fell down in front of me», Bulgakov wrote about that period.

Due to his talent and energy the writer managed to achieve remarkable literary success. Two parts of the novel «Belaya Gvardia» (1925) and satiric novels combining everyday life and fantasy – «Rokovye Yaitsa» (1924), Diavoliada» (1925) were published. On stages of the best contemporary theatres his plays Dni Turbihykh» (1926), «Zoikina Kvartira» (1926) and «Bagrovy Ostrov» (1928) were performed uncovering an absolutely original playwright's gift. The young and talented writer was recognized by entire Moscow.

However, by the end of 1929 a catastrophe occurred: Bulgakov's plays were suppressed, his works were not published and he could not find a job. Trying to find a way out of the difficult situation, he addressed to the government repeatedly with a request to let him go abroad or give him an opportunity to work in Soviet Russia. After a phone talk with Stalin (April 30th, 1930) Bulgakov was admitted to MKHAT (Moscow Artistic Academic Theatre) as an assistant director, but after his play «Molière» being taken out of the repertoire unexpectedly and the dissention with the theatre administration that followed, in 1936 he moved to the Bolshoi Theatre as a script-writer and a consultant and continued to write ”into a writing-desk» the works that will later bring him posthumous glory. Since late 1920s until 1961 his prose was not published at all.

Since the end of the 1920s till his death Bulgakov worked constantly on «a novel about the devil» that afterwards got the name of Master and Margarita». In this work the writer managed to unite witty satire, a romantic story, complicated philosophic problems connected with the struggle of Good and Evil and shrill lyrical intonation of the author. At the same time «Teatralny Roman» was prepared in rough manuscripts…

Last years of the writer's life were very hard both morally and physically. He had to waste his talent creating libretti of modern operas. A play «Batum» (about young Stalin) written up to the 60th anniversary of the Chief (1939) was not appreciated by Stalin, and MKHAT had to refuse the play. These events were taken hard by Bulgakov which led to the exacerbation of his illness and death.

There is a large fund of Bulgakov in Pushkinsky Dom. The main materials of the fund were received from E.S.Bulgakova, the writer's third wife, who spent the most difficult 1930s with him and stored Bulgakov's manuscripts and documents carefully. In 1978 the fund was replenished with materials received from L.E.Belozerskaya - his second wife.

Nowadays there are four large parts in it. In the first one the typewritten copies with the author's correcting of the play «Belaya Gvardia» (the initial name) – «Dni Turbihykh» (the name of the third version) are of the greatest interest. There are the translations of the play, the documents concerning talks about its productions in different theatres; the materials on the creational history of staging «Voina i Mir» by L.Tolstoy, of plays «Beg», «Aleksander Pushkin (Last days)» and «Mertvye Dushi» by N.Gogol. In this part Bulgakov's activity as a translator is also represented: a translation of a play «The Miser» («Skupoy» or «Skryaga») by Molière and preliminary materials for a translation of «The Merry Wives of Windsor» («Vindzorskye Prokaznitsy») by Shakespeare. What looks completely unexpected is a summary of a textbook The course of the USSR history». Besides that, there are documents concerning the history and production of many other Bulgakov's works. In the second part quite an extensive correspondence is represented. The most interesting are the letters to the writer's brother N.A.Bulgakov, to his relatives, to the writer Y.Zamyatin and his wife, to a friend P.S.Popov and also to social leaders and collaborators of publishing houses. In the forth part the originals of documents received by the writer in different years are held, such as a birth- and christening certificates, «The certificate of appearance for executing conscription», «Graduating-certificate of Kiev University, Medical Faculty» and others. The review of M.Bulgakov's archive and printing of the most valuable materials are realized in a book Tvorchestvo Mikhaila Bulgakova. Issledovanya. Materialy. Bibliografia» published by the collaborators of Pushkinsky Dom.

T.M.Vakhitova