We get a keen sense of this ambition from Bulgakov’s letter to his cousin, sent in 1921 from Vladikavkaz, where he first began to regard himself as a professional writer: “At night I sometimes read over the stories I’ve published previously (in newspapers! in newspapers!), and I think: where is my volume of collected works? Where is my reputation? Where are the wasted years?” It is painful to consider how little he would be able to boast of after another nineteen years of back-breaking literary labour: one volume of fiction; journal clippings of feuilletons, short stories, novellas, and part of his novel White Guard (1925); as well as a handful of staged plays – many of which were quickly banned. If Bulgakov had harboured some hope of publishing White Guard and his brilliant novella The Heart of a Dog in the 1920s, and of seeing more of his plays staged in the early 30s, towards the end of his life he knew that his masterpiece, The Master and Margarita, was doomed to “the darkness of a drawer”.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment