Distributed for Reaktion Books
Mikhail Bulgakov (1891–1940) was one of the most popular Russian writers of the twentieth century, but many of his works were banned for decades after his death due to the extreme political repression his country enforced. Even his great novel, The Master and Margarita, was written in complete secrecy during the 1930s for fear of the writer being arrested and shot. In her revelatory new biography, J. A. E. Curtis provides a fresh account of Bulgakov’s life and work, from his idyllic childhood in Kiev to the turmoil of World War One, the Russian Revolution, and civil war.
Exploring newly available archives that have opened up following the dissolution of the USSR, Curtis draws on new historical documents in order to trace Bulgakov’s life. She offers insights on his absolute determination to establish himself as a writer in Bolshevik Moscow, his three marriages and tumultuous personal life, and his triumphs as a dramatist in the 1920s. She also reveals how he struggled to defend his art and preserve his integrity in Russia under the close scrutiny of Stalin himself, who would personally weigh in each time on whether one of his plays should be permitted or banned. Based upon many years of research and examining previously little-known letters and diaries, this is an absorbing account of the life and work of one of Russia’s most inventive and exuberant novelists and playwrights.