Bulgakov Mikhail Afanasievich (1891-1940) – a prose writer and playwright.
Mikhail Bulgakov graduated from the First Alexander’s Gymnasium, where the children of the Russian intelligentsia of Kiev studied.
The level of teaching was high, sometimes even university professors taught.
In 1909, Bulgakov entered the medical faculty of Kiev University. In 1914, the first world war broke out, which destroyed the hopes of him and millions of his peers for a peaceful and prosperous future. After graduation from the university, in 1916, Bulgakov
worked in a field hospital first in Kamenetz-Podolsky, then in Cherepovets.
In September 1916, Bulgakov was recalled from the front and sent to manage the Zemstvo Nikolskoy rural hospital in Smolensk province, and in 1917 transferred to Vyazma. This period of the writer’s life was reflected in the “Notes of a Young Doctor” (1926), where a typical Bulgakov hero appears – an honest hard worker who often saves patients in hopeless situations, seemingly aware of the need to educate peasants from the deep Smolensk villages, but powerless to change conditions of their existence.
The February revolution broke the habitual life. In the essay “Kiev-city” (1923) Bulgakov wrote that the revolution “suddenly and menacingly came history.” After the October Revolution, he was released from military service, and he returned to Kiev, soon occupied by German troops. So the future writer plunged into the maelstrom of the civil war. Bulgakov was a good doctor, and his services needed belligerents. The young doctor remained faithful to humanistic ideals, not accepting the cruelty of the Petlyuraites and the whites, branded subsequently in the White Guard (see White Guard), in the stories “Plaque” and “On the Night of the 3rd Number,” in plays “Days Turbines “and” Running “. Bulgakov honestly carried out his medical duty, but in his soul the protest against involuntary complicity in atrocities and crimes grew.
In Vladikavkaz at the end of 1919 and at the beginning of 1920 Bulgakov left the ranks of Denikin’s army and began to cooperate in local newspapers, leaving medicine for good. The first story was created in the autumn of 1919. In the winter of 1919-1920 he wrote several short stories and feuilletons, one of which is known under the heading “Tribute to admiration.”
This is the first art text that has survived to this day, it deals with street clashes in Kiev during the revolution and civil war.
The occupation of literary creativity was provoked by the unwillingness to participate in the war. But this turn was still internally prepared by the long awakened craving for literature and theater.
Shortly before White retreated from Vladikavkaz, Bulgakov fell ill with recurrent typhus. When he recovered in the spring of 1920, the city already occupied part of the Red Army. Bulgakov began to cooperate in the sub department of the Arts Revolutionary Committee. For Ossetian and Ingush theatrical companies, he wrote plays, the text of one of which – “Sons of the Mulla” – is preserved. This play tells about the arrival of the February revolution in the Ingush village. The revolution itself appears as the good of the people, and in this play reflected not only the demands of the moment, but also the views of its author. In general, the plays of the Caucasian period were primarily agitation-one-day, were written in order to earn a piece of daily bread, and the real skill Bulgakov-playwright in them has not yet been revealed. Vladikavkaz impressions served as material for the story “Notes on Cuffs.”
In Tiflis, and then in Batumi, Bulgakov had the opportunity to emigrate. But he was already aware that a Russian writer should live in Russia. He decides to settle in Moscow, where he comes in 1921. Since the spring of 1922, Bulgakov has regularly printed on the pages of Moscow newspapers and magazines.
In satirical satires and sketches, the object of Bulgakov’s satire is not only the “scum of NEP” – the nouveau riche-nepman (novels “Trillion” and “The Cup of Life”), but also that part of the population whose low cultural level the writer observed: inhabitants of Moscow communal communes, merchants, incompetent servicemen, and others. But Bulgakov sees the sprouts of a new one, the signs of the return of life to a normal course (a boy-schoolboy walking along the street with a brand-new knapsack becomes a symbol of this in one of the essays).
In the novel “Fatal Eggs” (1924) Bulgakov moved the action into an imagined future – in 1928, when the results of the NEP had already led to a sharp rise in the standard of living of the people. The great discovery of Professor Persikov, which can bring benefit to all mankind, turns into a tragedy, in the hands of semi-literate, self-confident people, that new bureaucracy that blossomed magnificently in the era of War Communism and strengthened its positions in the years of NEP. It is no accident that the heroes of the Bulgakov novels of the 1920s fail. In “Fatal eggs” was shown the unpreparedness of society to accept new principles of relationships, based on respect for hard work, culture and knowledge.
In the plays “Days of Turbins” and “Running” (1925-1928), Bulgakov showed the adoption of the revolution by that part of the intelligentsia, which at first reacted to it wary or directly fought against it. Here the author speaks of the beginning of a process that led to the formation of a “new intelligentsia.” Bulgakov himself attributed himself to this layer, which he wrote with some humor in the article “The Capital in a Notepad”:
“After the revolution, a new, iron intelligentsia came into being: it can load furniture and firewood, and deal with x-rays.” I believe she does not will disappear! And yet the writer did not abandon faith in man, although at times, because of the difficult circumstances in his own life, he began to doubt.
In 1929, attacks on Bulgakov intensified. From the stage all his plays – “Days of Turbins”, play-pamphlet “Crimson Island” and household comedy “Zoykina apartment” were taken off. The playwright had no choice but to write a letter to the government, in which he asked to be allowed to go abroad. The letter had an effect. The result of Stalin’s conversation with Bulgakov was the appointment of the author of the plays as the assistant director of the Moscow Art Theater. The production of Bulgakov’s plays was resumed and the staging of Dead Souls was staged. But after 1927, in his homeland, the writer did not see any of his lines in the press (with the exception of the translation of The Miserly Moliere, 1938, and The Seventh Dream from the play Run, 1932).
Even in the hardest period of 1929-1930, Bulgakov did not seriously consider the possibility of emigrating. “… I am impossible on any other land, except my own – the USSR, because I have drawn from it for 11 years,” the author admitted in one of the letters. After the failure in 1933 of an attempt to publish his novel The Life of Monsieur de Moliere in the series ZHZL, Bulgakov did not attempt to publish his works until his death on March 10, 1940. The work of his life was work on the novel “Master and Margarita”, which lasted almost twelve years. (See “Master and Margarita”).
Showing in the plays “Days of Turbins” and “Running” the doom of the white movement, the law of the transition of the intelligentsia to the side of the Soviet power, and in the story “The Dog’s Heart” (see “The Heart of a Dog”) – a danger that threatens society if a morally and culturally backward person finds the right to impose his will on others, Bulgakov made a discovery that was included in the system of Russian national values, and rightfully earned the title of Russian national writer.
And the novel “Master and Margarita” was one of the greatest achievements of Russian and world prose of the 20th century. In this work all the motives and ideas characteristic of Bulgakov have found their complete expression.
Bulgakov in the best traditions of Russian and world literature was characterized by pain for a person, whether an outstanding master or an unseen clerk. The writer did not accept the literature that painted the sufferings of abstract, unreal heroes, while passing by at the same time. For Bulgakov, humanism was the ideological core of literature. And the true humanism of the master’s works is especially close to us today.