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The Master and Margarita
Bulgakov, Mikhail
Adult Fiction BULGAKOV

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Mikhail Afanasevich Bulgakov was a Russian playwright, novelist, and short-story writer best known for his use of humor and satire. He was born in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 15, 1891, and graduated from the Medical School of Kiev University in 1916. He served as a field doctor during World War I. Bulgakov's association with the Moscow Art Theater began in 1926 with the production of his play The Days of the Turbins, which was based on his novel The White Guard. His work was popular, but since it ridiculed the Soviet establishment, was frequently censored. His satiric novel The Heart of a Dog was not published openly in the U.S.S.R. until 1987. Bulgakov's plays including Pushkin and Moliere dealt with artistic freedom. His last novel, The Master and Margarita, was not published until 1966-67 and in censored form. Bulgakov died in Moscow on March 10, 1940. (Bowker Author Biography) A practicing physician like Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Afanasevich Bulgakov became a popular writer and playwright in the comparatively easier political climate of the Soviet Union during the 1920s. The civil war and its internecine horrors became one of his major themes as did the new Soviet society. His early prose is often satiric, with strong elements of the fantastic and grotesque, but it also contains the themes of guilt and personal responsibility that become so crucial in his later work. Bulgakov wrote a number of important plays that provoked bitter attacks in the press, and he was shut out of the theater and literature in 1929. Only a direct appeal to Stalin allowed Bulgakov to resume a professional career. Even then, however, some publishing houses and theaters rejected some of his important works, such as the novel Life of Monsieur de Moliere (1933). Bulgakov's masterpiece written over a number of years and only published decades after his death is the novel Master and Margarita (1966-67). Combining two principal plot lines-Satan's visit to contemporary Moscow and the trial and execution of Jesus in biblical Judaea-the work may be read on many levels, from the purely satiric to the allegorical. It has been acclaimed as one of the most important achievements of twentieth-century Russian fiction. Today, Bulgakov is celebrated for both his plays and his novels. Several of his plays are public favorites and standard fare in Russian theaters. Bulgakov died in Moscow on March 10, 1940. (Bowker Author Biography)

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