Mikhaïl Bulgakov

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(6211) Bulgakov, Mikhaïl (1891-1940). “Master i Margarita”. (2 vols.)

195pp + 132pp with additional tipped in typewritten pages 1st and 2nd copies, handwritten pages to verso, tipped in newspaper cutouts, tipped in book pages, collage and illustrations. 20cm x 30cm.

Among the authors circulated in samizdat there are a few whose names are synonymous with the form, of these Bulgakov is, arguably, the most read around the world and “The Master and the Margarita” his chef d’oeuvre considered in the greatest works of the twentieth century. What is already plentifully documented is that for a single samizdat to be made it not only necessitated utter secrecy but even before running the real dangers posed by circulation the means of production held its own unique challenges. As is the case in this two volume piece, typewriting could only be undertaken by pressing down softly on the typewriter keys through several sheets of carbon paper so to avoid any sound alerting the anyone as to the activity at hand. Increasingly difficult for us to understand, as we get further from the official end of the Soviet Union, is the value attached to these illicit texts and more importantly the society involved in their production and circulation. There are other samizdat of “The Master and the Margarita” in our collection but it is the great care and consideration that went into creating an aesthetic sense of value that truly makes this masterpiece exceptional by every comparison.
The handwritten passages to the verso are passages that were excised by the censors; bound in are additional typed pages which (from their condition) are clearly from a different source; a psychologically thrilling short story on the horrors of the civil war from a literary journal is bound in too; articles and illustrations are pasted to the verso as well as a collage, perhaps unfinished or an attempt at a title page for one of the volumes, of the word ‘Master’. Still more attention was paid to the binding with gilt engraving of the title and titular characters. The final effect of such a lavish production, in an environment which bred great cultural suspicion on the part of the authorities, is eye-catching and visceral, completely counter-intuitive to the logic of keeping such hazardous material nondescript and drab.
It is rare and difficult enough to find and identify a samizdat with true provenance; it is even more so to come across an example that epitomises so completely the culture of samizdat.

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Bulgakov, Mikhaïl. Beg.

Written in 1928 Beg takes place in Crimea where Bulgakov had travelled to in 1925. The esteemed Voloshin who admired Bulgakov wrote to Nikolai Angarskii, editor of Nedra, saying that he would like to meet Bulgakov. Such invitations carried a weight reserved for literary royalty and so Bulgakov accepted the invitation. before he left the “Vechernaia Krasnaia Gazeta” commissioned him to write articles on Crimea six of which were published in the editions during July and August. Unfortunately Bulgakov did not save any of the articles for his own archive and so they were unknown to readers of Bulgakov even at the time of the first publication of his complete works. During his trip to Crimea Bulgakov started work on Beg which, like the great majority of his dramatic work, was never allowed to be rehearsed but never performed in his lifetime. The first performance of the play was at the Volgograd Theatre in 1957 and then performed the next year at the Pushkin Theatre in Leningrad.
In addition to the articles pasted to the verso of the pages there are annexes with annotations on the Beg and Bulgakov’s work.

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(1189) Bulgakov, Mikhaïl. “Master i Margarita”.

Original typescript, 1st copy. 254 pages. Printed on onion-skin paper. 20,2cm x 28,5cm. Sheets loose in a hardbound cover. Samizdat dated 1967.

There is no lack of documentation and commentary on “The Master and Margarita”, on the text itself and its virulent criticism of the Soviet regime (and in particular Stalinism), as well as the text’s existence through samizdat.
Saved by the author’s widow, the manuscript would only make a public debut on a historic day at the beginning of the 1960’s. The publication in two volumes of the journal “Moskva” (1966 and 1967) was badly treated by the censor. As a result Elena Sergeievna employed the samizdat to make the 12% cut by the censor known. So it was at the end of 1966 that this samizdat would see the light of day. Specialists are now inclined to affirm that the first “authentic” samizdats of “Master i Margarita” could not have been conceived before the months of March or April 1967. Very few complete copies enter circulation; those that do reproduce the publication in “Moskva” inserting the censored passages.
The samizdat of forty pages circulated by the widow was extensively copied without knowing precisely where each paragraph needed to to be inserted, in spite of any indication.
So that there can be no misunderstanding, in showing this particular samizdat we sought to present a complete samizdat which showed the totality of the restored text.

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(2181) Bulgakov, Mikhaïl. “Bagrovyi Ostrov” (“The Purple Island”) and “Zoikina Kvartira” (“Zoia’s Apartment”) P’iesa v 4-kh deistviiakh (In four acts).

Original typescript, 1st copy. 231 pages. 21cm. Illustrated cloth covered boards. Samizdat dated 1972.

“Bagrovyi Ostrov” 147 pages.
Theatre piece modeled after the serial publication “Bagrovyi Ostrov”; his first draft was finished in February 1927 but only authorised to be performed in September 1928.
The subtitle reads “General’naia repetitsiia p’iesy grazhdanina Zhiulia Verna v teatre Gennadiia Panfilovicha s muzykoi, izverzheniem vulkana i angliiskimi matrosami” (“General rehearsal of the citizen Jules Verne’s theatrical work of Gennadii Panfilovich with music, volcano eruption and english sailors”). The première of the play was held on December 1928 and was withdrawn in June 1929. The text would never be published during Bulgakov’s lifetime. The first publication would be in 1968 in the New York based journal “Novyi Zhurnal” No.93 and the first publication in the Soviet Union would be in the review “Druzhba Narodov” (N°8, 1987).
Our samizdat is a copy of the American edition and was one of the samizdats included in the list of 66 samizdat in a note from the KGB dated 11 december 1972 from the head of the Glavlit (Romanov) in which he is asked to verify the text being diffused and to use all the power within his means to prevent its circulation.
Original typescript, 1st copy. 147 pages.

“Zoikina Kvartira” 84 pages.
The première of this play took place in october 1926 and would be prohibited in 1929. During Bulgakov’s lifetime only the German translation would ever be published. The first publication in Russian was in “Novyi Zhurnal” N°97, 98 1969-1970 in New York.
The first publication in the Soviet Union was in the review “Sovremennaia Dramaturgiia” (N°2 1982). Copies of the review were summarily confiscated by direct order from the Kremlin’s cultural service which had just been broughtt into being by authority of Yuri Andropov.
We know of no other copy of this samizdat.

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(3188) Bulgakov, Mikhaïl. “Adam i Eva” piesa v 4-kh aktakh (in 4 acts)

Original typescript, 1st copy. 109 pages. 22,5cm x 17cm. Illustrated cloth-covered hardbound binding. Samizdat dated 1970-72.

Written in 1931, this piece is an ascorbic criticism of the Soviet phenomenon. Considered as a work of pseudo-science-fiction as it imitates a form of reality.
Moscow is destroyed by a chemical attack and only the hero can save humanity by bringing the five survivors of the catastrophe to live in a forest. Published for the first time in Paris in 1971 it was eventually published in the USSR for the first time in 1989 in Tadzhiikistan in spite of the immense opposition of the local Glavlit office which still held enormous power.
This is one of Bulgakov’s rarest samizdats and Mark Barbakadze makes no mention of it in his anthology.

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(3180) Bulgakov, Mikhaïl. “Belaïa Gvardia” (“The White Guard”).

Original typescript, 1st and 2nd copy. 301 pages. 21cm. Hardbound binding “à la Bradel” with title and author’s name in gilt. Samizdat dated 1974.

Among the lives of Russian authors Bulgakov’s is certainly one of the best known and most frequently commented upon. Hundreds of works have been written on his life and on his works.
Since the opening of an important part of the KGB archives we even know the circumstances of his arrest, the minutes of his interrogators and how the authorities proceeded to censor him with a cynicism that few other writers have had to endure.
The article on Bulgakov in Vitali Chentalinski’s book (“La Parole ressucitée”. R.Laffont 1993) is an invaluable source of reference to understand the course of intellectual thought that brought the Soviet power to proscribe the works of Bulgakov.
Even when eventually published, between 1955 and 1985 a large part of his works continued to be the object of samizdat copies and this for several reasons which we can summarise in three parts.
The public feared, and in the majority of cases justly so, that the publication of a text could be followed by an immediate withdrawal from the shops as well as libraries as in the case of the review “Moskva” 1966-67 in which “The Master and the Margarita” was published for the first time. Many readers were simply too afraid to attempt using the black market to procure a text by Bulgakov. Rumours, that we now know to be be well founded, abounded about civilian militiamen chose as their clients people who could potentially fit the perfect profile of a future dissident. The third reason is that the text had not yet appeared in the USSR where it had no chance of being published again. It remains to be noted, although it’s widely known, that throughout the Brejnev era to the first days of the Perestroika, the possession of a Bulgakov Samizdat was strictly forbidden, even in the case of a relatively recent copy.
This samizdat of “Belaia Gvardia” is a typewritten copy of the Moscow edition of 1973, an edition which vanished from the libraries five or six weeks after their release. It’s often said that the Central Committee reversed their opinion on its decision to publish “The Master and the Margarita” which was part of the same volume.

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(5186) Bulgakov, Mikhaïl. “Sobach ‘e Serdtse”.

Original typescript, 2nd copy. 119 pages. 27cm. Hardbound binding. Samizdat dated 1968.

This samizdat of “Heart of a Dog” was acquired in 1968 by the previous owner. It was he who, presented with the original typewritten copy, corrected several words of texts in black ink. Equally, he was responsible for the binding and titling.
The review “Student” which served as the origin of this samizdat text was transported to Moscow from London in a journalist’s luggage.

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