IntroductionNot many Russian writers received telephones calls from Joseph Stalin. And not many of them ever wanted to. But Mikhail Bulgakov, even though he often made fun of the world’s first Communist government and wrote scathing satire against its leader, was actually one of Stalin’s favorite writers. That didn’t mean, however, Bulgakov was safe from the censor’s pen. He was so depressed by Stalin’s ban on all his earlier books that he burned the first and only copy of The Master and Margarita; he then changed his mind and had to rewrite the novel from memory. It was a good decision. Because of this novel, critics have praised Bulgakov as one of the best authors of the twentieth century. He died in 1940, dictating the final changes of his masterpiece to his wife.
- Bulgakov was a doctor by training and practiced medicine before he became a writer. While he served as a doctor on the front line during the war between Russia and Germany, he became addicted to morphine.
- Stalin once asked Bulgakov to produce several classic literary pieces for the stage. Very few of those works, however, were allowed to be published.
- Bulgakov’s greatest novel, The Master and Margarita, was not published until twenty-seven years after the author’s death. He asked his wife to hide the manuscript, fearing that it might be confiscated or destroyed
- One of the characters in Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita is Satan. For this reason, a group of Satanist occupied Bulgakov’s empty apartment after the author’s death and created lavish graffiti all over the walls.
- Despite his fears, Bulgakov used to say that “a manuscript cannot be burned.” This has become a popular phrase in Russia, meaning that once an author has written a book, it might be banned but it will never disappear.