Black Snow : A theatrical novel by Mikhail Bulgakov ; translated from the Russian by Michael Glenny
New York : Simon and Schuster, 1967. First edition. Hardcover. 190 pages ; 21 cm. $4.50 dust jacket, however, the price has been blacked out by a marker. Very good copy; no underlines or markings within the pages. Satisfaction guaranteed!
THE hero of this novel is a self-caricature of Mikhail Bulgakov himself, the author of The Master and Margarita, now recognized, a quarter of a century after his death, as one of the most versatile writers of Russian prose since 1917. He has told here in fictional form what might well have happened when he set out, at the start of his writing career, to dramatize one of his own novels for the two outstanding geniuses and tyrants of the Moscow theater—Konstantin Stanislavski and V. l. Nemirovich-Danchenko.
These are the men who created and ran the famous Moscow Art Theater. They became legends before they died, alternately worshiped and feared by actors, playwrights, playgoers. Even the minor characters in this novel are caricatures of real men and women who worked under them at the Moscow Art Theater, and the central satire of the novel is aimed squarely at debunking the great Stanislavski, director of one of the best-known theaters of the twentieth century and founder of a world-famous school of acting.
It is a very funny novel, full of a kind of quiet irony. Bulgakov wrote it near the end of his life, at a time when a Soviet writer had to communicate ideas in ways that would escape a censor. He elided the 1920's, when his own first play was a sensational success at the Moscow Art Theater, and the 1930's, when the Stalinist repression of ideas outside the party line almost finished Bulgakov and all his plays. This novel has delighted Russian readers who can recognize the real person behind each of its caricatures. For others it is a wise and witty account of how a young, ambitious, stage-struck writer finds out what really goes on in the jealousies, the feuds and the egomania of theatrical life.
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