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Search tags: Mikhail-Bulgakov
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review 2020-02-27 21:47
Playing God
Hundeherz - Mikhail Bulgakov

For years I wanted to read Heart of a Dog, finally I found the time to do so and I am not disappointed. Bulgakov presents a great satirical novella in which he asks quite a few uncomfortable questions about the freedom and limits of science, about responsibility for one’s creation, personal happiness, and, last but not least, about the influence and corruption of the communist/bolshevik system.

Since I usually find a constantly changing perspective rather annoying and/or distracting, I am surprised, that I really enjoyed this mixture of the dog’s perspective, third person narration and pieces of Bormental’s diary. I especially appreciate the fact that the story starts from Šarik’s point of view (that is the dog’s) and that Bulgakov concentrates much on scent, smell and sensations of details that are in general irrelevant for humans. Therein also lies the explanation for Šarik’s later fondness of flashy patent leather shoes.

I love the fact, that all characters in here are quite coherent in their behavioural traits, even Šarik – while being a dog, while transforming into a human and while being the human Šarikov. That’s quite an achievement in my opinion!

Besides the social satire that can be found in Heart of a Dog, Bulgakov imposes some further existential questions like what makes one human? How does one behave towards his/her own creator? How does one behave towards his/her own creation? Or what ultimately makes us who we are?

Overall, this is less surreal and phantasmagorical than most of Bulgakov’s other writings – and I like it!

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review 2020-01-17 21:39
One more for today
Дьяволиада - Mikhail Bulgakov,Mikhail Bulgakov

This is definitely the literary groundwork for Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita in which the author tried exploring the major themes of his later masterpiece.

I remember when we had to read Master and Margarita at University and everybody in my course was crazy about how amazing, extraordinary and outstanding this novel is, whereas I was (and still am) wondering what all the fuzz is about. Needless to say, I chose to write about Dostoevskij and Turgenev at that particular final exam.
No wonder, that the novella D’javoliada is not my favourite as well. The scenes are just too bizarre and too loosely linked for my taste, they change quickly and constantly, setting and characters are switched out rapidly – all in all, it reads just like a fever dream. Although I suspect that this delirious state might very well have been Bulgakov’s intention in the first place.

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review 2020-01-17 16:07
Those damned eggs
Die verfluchten Eier - Alexander Nitzberg,Mikhail Bulgakov

Роковые яйца is an early novella by Bulgakov that can be categorised somewhere between magic realism and science fiction. The plot moves at a quick pace, it is witty and funny and filled with great and overall likeable characters out of whom I quickly fell in love with Pankrat.
Bulgakov clearly intended to make fun of early communism and it’s good to know, that Soviet censorship in 1925 was still cool enough to let it pass.

Since I caught a cold last weekend and am therefore borderline ill at the moment, I also got the translation of Bulgakov’s novella – just in case my head needed a rest from Russian I would switch to German for a chapter or two. I got tired, took the translation and after the third paragraph I was back to the original. Damn, this translation is unreadable. I more or less know the translator personally, but until today I have never read one of his prose translations and I am quite sure, that I will never pick one up again. It just feels awkward and cumbrous and for some reason more complicated and more antiquated than the original itself. That’s going to be a fun topic when we meet next time.

Bottom line: Роковые яйца is a great novella, but Nitzberg’s new translation is terrible.

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review 2019-01-25 01:38
Black Snow - Mikhail Bulgakov,Michael Glenny

Mikhail Bulgakov must have had a thing for cats.  He’s must have been like the Russian Edward Gorey or something because there are cats in this book.

                Satan, however, is of a different from than cat in this book.

                If Satan is in this book, he is the powers that control the theater and drive an author to the end of his rope.  This isn’t Satan conjuring Helen, this isn’t a bargain with a temporary gain but eternal damnation, this is just eternal damnation. 

                Not really surprising that Terry Gilliam wrote the introduction because the black humor does remind one of the Pythons.

                It helped that am also reading a book about Russian artists so I understood some of the references.

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review 2017-10-04 15:52
Growth ray story
The Fatal Eggs - Mikhail Bulgakov,Hugh Aplin,Doris Lessing

Amazing that this is written in 1924.


A professor accidentally found a growth rate. 


The resulting egg would grow faster and then would continue to grow fast even without further exposure to this ray.


The professor has to give credit to the person who built the lab in order to get published.


Then problem come in the form that people misunderstood the study result. 


Everyone want to know about this ray. So much so that bribery is offered. 


Half way through and it is a nice little book.


Snakes. Horrifying snakes. A wrong delivery. 


Reading this Classic Horror square. 



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