Mikhail Afanassievich Bulgakov

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The young Bulgakov in the 1910s
Mikhail Bulgakov signature.svg

Mikhail Bulgakov ( Russian Михаил Афанасьевич Булгаков ., Scientific transliteration Mikhail Bulgakov Afanas'evič ; emphasis: Mikhail Bulgakov ; May 3 . Jul / 15. May  1891 greg. In Kiev , Russian Empire ; † 10. March 1940 in Moscow , Soviet Union ) was a Soviet writer. He is considered one of the great satirists in Russian literature .


Mikhail Bulgakov was born in 1891 as the son of Afanassi Ivanovich Bulgakov , a lecturer at the Kiev Theological Academy, and his wife Varvara Michajlowna (née Pokrowskaja) and baptized in the same year in the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross in Podil . After graduating from Kyiv First Gymnasium in 1909, he enrolled at the Medical Faculty of Kiev University . In 1916 he received a doctor's degree and took a job in the countryside in the Smolensk region before practicing in Vyazma . In 1913 he married Tatjana Nikolajewna Lappa ( Russian Татьяна Николаевна Лаппа ).

At the time of the Russian Civil War , Bulgakov was called up as a doctor in the Ukrainian Republican Army in February 1919. He deserted after a short time and managed to find a job in the Red Army . Eventually, Bulgakov ended up with the South Russian White Guards . He spent a certain time with the Cossacks in Chechnya , and later moved to Vladikavkaz . In late October 1921, Bulgakov moved to Moscow and began working for a number of newspapers ( Siren , Arbeiter ) as well as magazines ( The Medical Worker , Russia , Rebirth ). During this time he published a few prose pieces in the exile newspaper Am Vorag, which appeared in Berlin . Between 1922 and 1926, the Sirene printed more than 120 of his reports, essays and columns. Bulgakov joined the All-Russian Writers' Union in 1923.

In 1924 he met Lyubov Yevgenevna Beloserskaja ( Russian Любовь Евгеньевна Белозёрская ), whom he married the following year. In 1928 the couple toured the Caucasus and visited the cities of Tbilisi , Batumi , Vladikavkaz and Gudermes . In the same year, the premiere of Багровый остров ( Blood-Red Island ) took place in Moscow . During this time, the author developed the first ideas for The Master and Margarita and began work on a play about Molière called Кабала святош ( Slavery of Bigots ). In 1929 he met Jelena Schilowskaja , who in 1932 became his third wife.

From 1930 the works of Bulgakov were no longer published, his plays (including: Бег, Зойкина квартира, Багровый остров, and the spectacle Дни Турбиных) disappeared from the repertoire of theaters. In letters to his brother Nikolai, who lived in Paris , Bulgakov complained about the ungrateful situation for him and his difficult material situation. At the same time he turned to the political leadership of the USSR with the request either to allow him to emigrate or to get a job as an assistant director at МХАТ (Московский художественный театр им. Чехова). Stalin personally called Bulgakov and promised help. In 1930 the author first worked in the central theater of the working youth TRAM, then until 1936 in the MXAT as an assistant director. In 1932 he was involved in the staging of Gogol's The Dead Souls . From 1936 he found himself in the Bolshoi Theater as a librettist and translator.

Molière premiered in 1936 . In 1937 he worked on librettos for Minin and Poscharsky and Peter the Great . In 1939 Bulgakov worked on the libretto Рашель and on a piece about Stalin ( Batum ). Contrary to the author's expectation, publication and performance were banned. His health deteriorated rapidly. The doctors diagnosed nephrosclerosis caused by hypertension (high blood pressure) . He began to dictate the last variations of his novel The Master and Margarita to his wife Jelena Sergejewna .

Bulgakov's tomb in Moscow

From February 1940, friends and relatives kept vigil over the sick bed. Bulgakov died on March 10th. A day later, the Writers' Union of the USSR held a private funeral mass. Before that, the sculptor Sergei Merkurov removed the death mask from the face of the deceased.


Bulgakov's grotesque depictions of everyday life in the young Soviet Union often have fantastic or absurd features - a typical way of criticizing society in Russian-language literature since Gogol . Dog Heart was created in 1925, but was not published in the Soviet Union until 1987.

Bulgakov's best-known work is Der Meister und Margarita , a satirical-grotesque recording of the Faust motif , a journey through time. The work appeared in print for the first time in 1966/67 in sequels in the literary magazine Moskwa, almost 30 years after the author's death, in an abridged version. The unabridged version first appeared in book form in 1973. Shortly after its first Soviet publication, the novel was published in 1968 in a German translation by Thomas Reschke . Some critics consider the book to be the best Russian novel of the 20th century. From April 29 to May 5, 1968, it was number 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list .


The asteroid (3469) Bulgakov is named after him.

Bulgakov Museum in Kiev

A museum is dedicated to him on Kiev's Andreassteig , the street where he was born . Another Bulgakov museum is located in Moscow.


Bulgakov's family name goes back to the name Bulgak, which is widespread in Ukraine and which translates as "restless" or "fast-paced".

Works (in selection)

Work editions

  • Collected Works . 13 volumes in 16 sub-volumes - Edited and annotated on literary history by Ralf Schröder , Volk und Welt Verlag, Berlin 1992–1996.
    • 1. The White Guard - Novel, 1992.
    • 2. The life of Mr de Molière , 1993.
    • 3. The Master and Margarita - Novel, 1994.
    • 4. The black magician - original versions of the novel The Master and Margarita , 1994.
    • 5. The red crown - autobiographical stories and diaries, 1993.
    • 6. Teufeliaden - Tales, 1994.
    • 7th half vol. 1. I Killed - Stories and Features, 1995.
    • 7th half vol. 2. The talking dog - feature pages, 1995.
    • 8. The Days of the Turbins , 1993.
    • 9. Soya's Apartment , 1993.
    • 10. Adam and Eve , 1994.
    • 11. The Hypocritical Cabal (Molière), 1995.
    • 12th half vol. 1. Don Quixote Pieces, 1996.
    • 12th half vol. 2. Peter the Great - film scenarios, libretti, 1996.
    • 13th half vol. 1. Letters - 1914-1940 , 1996.
    • 13th half vol. 2. Documents and materials , 1996.


  • House No. 13 (“№ 13 - Дом Эльпит-Рабкоммуна”) story, 1922
  • Tschitschikow's Adventure ("Похождения Чичикова") - "Poem in ten points with a prologue and an epilogue", published in 1922
  • The red crown ("Красная корона") story, 1922
  • Notes on cuffs ("Записки на манжетах") story, 1922
  • A Chinese story ("Китайская история") narrative, 1923
  • Devil's Spook ("Дьяволиада") story, 1923 (published 1924)
  • The attack ("Налёт") narrative, 1923
  • The White Guard ("Белая гвардия") novel, 1923–1924. (Newly translated by Alexander Nitzberg, Galiani, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-86971-159-1 ).
  • The fatal eggs ("Роковые яйца") story, 1924. (Newly translated by Alexander Nitzberg and d. T. The cursed eggs , Galiani, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86971-092-1 ).
  • The Fire of Chans ("Ханский огонь") story, 1924
  • Dog heart ("Собачье сердце") narrative, 1925. (Newly translated by Alexander Nitzberg and D. T. Das hündische Herz , Galiani, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-86971-069-3 . New edition illustrated by Christian Gralingen: Edition Büchergilde , Frankfurt am Main 2016, ISBN 978-3-86406-062-5 )
  • Notes of a young doctor ("Записки юного врача") stories, 1925/27 (transl. Thomas Reschke; several German editions since 1972, Volk und Welt, Berlin; also 1981 and 1986 in an anthology together with "Das Leben des Mr. Molière ”and the“ theater novel ”) In the“ Notes ... ”B. describes the starting point of his life and work, to which he has remained true despite all contradictions. In the late work “Theaterroman” (1936/1937), which has remained a fragment, and the biographical novel “Das Leben des Herr Molière” from 1932/1933, which is internally linked to it, he shows how the “streams of enlightenment” prevail over and over again even under complicated conditions .
    • Edition in the FRG: doctor's stories , same translation, Luchterhand, Darmstadt 1972 a. ö. (last 11th edition 2009)
  • The gold- worthy correspondent reports of Ferapont Ferapontowitsch Kaporzew ("Золотые корреспонденции Ферапонта Ферапонтовича Капорцева") story, 1926
  • I killed ("Я убил") story, 1926
  • Morphine ( "Морфий") narrative, 1927
  • The Master and Margarita ( "Мастер и Маргарита") novel, 1929-39, first published in 1966. (New translated by Alexander Nitzberg udT Master and Margarita , Galiani, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86971-058-7 )
  • Theater novel (partly autobiographical), first German in 1969, Volk und Welt, Berlin. New editions.
  • Diaboliade , transl . Joachim Britze , JMB , Hannover 2014. ISBN 978-3-944342-59-7


  • The Days of the Turbins ("Дни Турбиных") - play, premiere on October 5, 1926
  • Escape ("Бег") - play in four acts, 1926; First published on March 29, 1957 in Stalingrad , 1962
  • Soja's Apartment ("Зойкина квартира") - play in three acts, 1926
  • The Cabal of the Hypocrites , also Molière (“Кабала святош”) - play in four acts, 1930
  • Adam and Eve ("Адам и Ева") - play in four acts, 1931; Neither published nor performed during Bulgakov's lifetime, first published in 1971 (Paris), first published in the Soviet Union in 1987
  • The Crazy Jourdain ("Полоумный Журден") - Molièriade in three acts, 1932; set to music by Fritz Geißler in 1970/71
  • Bliss ("Блаженство") - play in four acts, 1933–1934; Neither published nor performed during Bulgakov's lifetime, first published in 1966
  • Ivan Vasilievich ("Иван Васильевич") - comedy in three acts, 1934–1935; Reworking of the play Bliss ("Блаженство"); Neither published nor performed during Bulgakov's lifetime, first published in 1965
  • Alexander Pushkin ("Александр Пушкин"), also The Last Days ("Последние дни") - play in four acts, 1935–1939; Premiere in 1943; first published 1955
  • Batum ("Батум") - play in four acts, 1936–1939; Premiere 1991; first published in the United States in1977
  • Don Quixote ("Дон Кихот") - piece after Cervantes in four acts and nine pictures, Moscow, December 18, 1938. (Neither published nor performed during Bulgakov's lifetime, first published in 1962)


Film adaptations

Audio books and radio plays (excerpt)

Bulgakov Monument in front of the Bulgakov Museum in Kiev

See also


  • Margret Fieseler: Stylistic and motivic investigations into Michail Bulgakov's novels “Belaja gvardija” and “Master i Margarita” (= Slavic texts and studies; 3). Olms, Hildesheim u. a. 1982, ISBN 3-487-07299-8 .
  • Christiane Hausmann: Different thinking in the Soviet Union. The “occult” as a positive utopia for Bulgakov. Haag et al. Herchen, Frankfurt am Main 1990, ISBN 3-89228-544-6 .
  • Sergej A. Yermolinskij: Memories of Bulgakow (= people-and-world spectrum; 203; literary portrait). Volk u. Welt, Berlin 1985.
  • Volker Levin: The grotesque in Michail Bulgakov's prose. With an excursus on A. Sinjavskij (= works and texts on Slavic Studies; 6). Sagner, Munich 1975.
  • Svetlana Lukanitschewa: Ostracized authors. Works by Marina Cvetaeva, Michail Bulgakov, Aleksandr Vvedenskij and Daniil Charms on the German stages of the 90s (= Theatron; 40). Niemeyer, Tübingen 2003, ISBN 3-484-66040-6 .
  • Birgit Mai: Satire in Soviet Socialism. Mikhail Soschtschenko, Mikhail Bulgakov, Ilya Ilf, Yevgeny Petrov. Lang, Bern a. a. 1993, ISBN 3-261-00004-X .
  • Claudia Natterer: Faust as an artist. Michail Bulgakov's “Master i Margarita” and Thomas Mann's “Doctor Faustus” (= contributions to Slavic philology; 9). Winter, Heidelberg 2002, ISBN 3-8253-1467-7 .
  • Monika Nölke Floyd: Michail Bulgakov's “Kabala svjatos”. Forms and functions of the approach to Molière (= European university publications; series 16, Slavic languages ​​and literatures; 58). Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 1997, ISBN 3-631-30103-0 .
  • Heinrich Riggenbach: Michail Bulgakov's novel "Master i Margarita". Style and shape (= Slavica Helvetica; 13). Lang, Bern a. a. 1979, ISBN 3-261-04644-9
  • Michael Schädlich: Title recordings. Studies of works by Thomas Mann, Heinrich Böll, Max Frisch, Graham Greene, Michail Bulgakow, Hermann Kant and Stefan Heym. Union-Presse Hass, Berlin 1978, ISBN 3-920150-00-7 .
  • Witali Schentalinski : The risen word. Persecuted Russian writers in their final letters, poems, and records. Translated from the Russian by Bernd Rullkötter. Gustav Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1996, pp. 156-186, ISBN 3-7857-0848-3 .
  • Wilfried F. Schoeller: Michail Bulgakow. Pictures and documents (book accompanying the Mikhail Bulgakov exhibition “Manuscripts don't burn”). Volk und Welt, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-353-01049-1 .
  • Nyota Thun : Pushkin Pictures. Bulgakov, Tynyanow, Platonov, Zoshchenko, Tsvetaeva. Structure, Berlin a. a. 1984.
  • Aleksey Varlamov: Mikhail Bulgakov. Translated from the Russian by Susanne Rödel. Projektverlag, Bochum / Freiburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-89733-216-4 .
  • Bastian Wielenga: Lenin's path to revolution: a confrontation with Sergej Bulgakov and Petr Struve in the interest of a theological reflection. Kaiser, Munich 1971, ISBN 3-459-00778-8 (dissertation Kirchliche Hochschule Berlin-Zehlendorf 1971, 535 pages).
  • Elsbeth Wolffheim : Michail Bulgakow. (= Rowohlt's monographs; 526) Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-499-50526-6 .

Individual evidence

  1. Alexej Michejew: What the name of the writer tells

Web links

Commons : Mikhail Bulgakov  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files