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Top 5 Ultimate Must Read Novels Written by Mikhail Bulgakov

Updated on July 26, 2019
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Prachi is a voracious reader and a bibliophile. She has her own library with a collection of more than thousands of books of different genre

Mikhail Bulgakov
Mikhail Bulgakov

Everything will turn out right, the world is built on that.

— Mikhail Bulgakov

Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov was a Russin writer, playwright, and medical doctor. He was active during the early 20th century.

Amazing Facts about Mikhail Bulgakov

  • He was skilled in writing comedies from a very young age and had a huge interest in theatre.
  • He was a medical graduate from Kiev University.
  • He was greatly influenced by Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Charles Dickens.
  • His sufferings during World War | made him addicted to morphine, which he abandoned in 1918.
  • He suffered from severe typhus while working as an army physician in the Northern Caucasus. This incident made him left his medical practice and he switched to writing.
  • His early work was rejected by Joseph Stalin, but later he himself entitled Bulgakov as an influential writer whose beliefs are much higher than all the political parties, whether left or right.
  • He also worked at world-famous Bolshoi Theatre as a consultant and librettist.
  • He died on March 10, 1940, due to nephrosclerosis.

The Master and Margarita's film adaptation
The Master and Margarita's film adaptation

1. The Master and Margarita

  • The Master and Margarita is Bulgakov’s posthumous novel. It is considered to be one of the best novels of the 20th century.
  • It is based on a satirical comedy as well as Christian philosophy combined with supernatural elements, consequently a genre-mixer novel.
  • The novel is written in two settings. The first one is in the 1930s in Moscow when Satan appears in the form of “Professor Woland” at the Patriarch Ponds. The second is the Jerusalem of Pontius Pilate and introduction of Margarita, who is offered a chance by Woland to become a powerful witch.
  • Margarita learns to fly and takes control of her discovered passions, she walks naked into the realm of that night and decides to help her master to come out despair and a stranger to get liberty.

The Master and Margarita: 50th-Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
The Master and Margarita: 50th-Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Nothing compares the remarkable writing of The Master and Margarita in the world of literature. The story revolves around the invasion of Devil into Moscow, his uprising, disguise and massive transformations of other characters. Bulgakov’s funny, satirical and fantastical description of Soviet life is explained in two interrelated parts. Both of which are historical, frightful and imaginary, also taking into account the concept of ancient Jerusalem. The book initiated Russian artistic freedom and is a paradigm of successful Russian literature.

Heart of a Dog's film adaptation
Heart of a Dog's film adaptation

2. Heart of a Dog

  • Heart of a Dog is considered to be a metaphorical novel for the uprising of the Communist revolution in Russia.
  • Due to this reason, it was earlier rejected and was published after 60 years of its completion in 1987.
  • The story starts with a stray dog who is adopted by a successful surgeon named Filipp Filippovich Preobrazhensky. He names the dog Sharik.
  • The first section is told by Sharik’s perspective, who feels extremely safe and healthy in the flat of Dr. Preobrazhensky, but little did he know that he’s brought in for a weird operation which will transform him completely.
  • Later it is told through Dr. Ivan Arnoldovich Bormenthal’s perspective (Preobrazhensky’s students), who assists the surgeon in the operation and Sharik becomes a man, named Sharikov, with a dog intelligence.

The White Guard's film adaptation
The White Guard's film adaptation

3. The White Guard

  • The White Guard was first published in a serial form in a literary journal named Rossiya and it was the theatre play named The Days of the Turbins based on the book, which gained more success than the book and was termed as the theatre legend. It was Joseph Stalin’s favorite play, who watched it nearly 20 times.
  • The novel is about the life of the Turbin family in the mid of a big war going on, over the city of Kiev. The family is severely affected by the effects of the October Revolution.
  • The Turbin family is somewhat related to Bulgakov’s own family. Their house and family description highly resembles Bulgakov family who also lived in Kiev.
  • The novel is a precious memory of Bulgakov and is kept safe at the Mikhail Bulgakov Museum.

A Young Doctor’s Notebook's TV adaptation
A Young Doctor’s Notebook's TV adaptation

4. A Young Doctor’s Notebook

  • A Young Doctor’s Notebook is a short story collection, inspired by Bulgakov’s early career days working as a young doctor at Smolensk Governorate.
  • The stories also cover his addiction to morphine and how he managed to end it later in his lie.
  • The short stories are “The Embroidered Towel”, “Black as Egypt’s Night”, “The Steel Windpipe”, “The Speckled Rash”, “Baptism by Rotation”, “The Vanishing Eye”, “The Blizzard”, “Morphine” and “The Murderer”.
  • Out of all this, Morphine is the most famous of all. The story is about a young and talented doctor named Dr. Polyakov who is severely ill and is dying. Later it is revealed that he injected morphine to get rid of back pain and but became addicted to it, which took a toll on his health.

The Fatal Eggs' theatrical adaptation
The Fatal Eggs' theatrical adaptation

5. The Fatal Eggs

  • The Fatal Eggs is a science fiction novella, which received huge success, but also became prey to criticism as it mocked the Russian Revelation 1917 as well as Soviet Russia leadership.
  • The protagonist is Vladimir Ipatyevich Persikov, who is an aged zoologist and expert in amphibians.
  • The story starts with the Moscow city, which has sufficiently recovered from the turbulent effects of the Civil War and is highly prosperous now.
  • Persikov is doing an experiment at the Zoological Institute, which becomes so widespread that it rings bells in the ears of journalists, foreign spies and the Soviet secret service named GPU.
  • Earlier the experiment is availed to stabilize the population of domesticated poultry, but later it results in the complete destruction of Moscow.

Bulgakov’s experience in the medical doctor helped him shape most of his stories. Almost each of his novel was unique and spectacular but were severely criticized for going against the Russian norms of that time. His novel The Master and Margarita is considered to be a legendary novel and has been adapted several times into film, television series, theatre and ballet play as well as radio shows.

© 2019 Prachi Sharma


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