How Stalin Toyed With Mikhail Bulgakov
The devil went down to Moscow not long after the Bolshevik takeover, along with a valet, a vampire, an assassin, and a gunslinging man-sized cat called Behemoth. That’s the setup for Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, a scathingly satiric tale of Soviet censors, informers, and intellectual courtiers that doubles as an unorthodox retelling of the Book of Matthew. Finished in 1940, the novel was not formally published until the late 1960s, and then only in heavily censored form. The full novel finally appeared in 1973, but even then Russian readers were more likely to encounter a samizdat edition than the hard-to-find official printing.
Bulgakov had the misfortune of being a writer in the Soviet Union—worse yet, Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union. The dictator took a personal interest in the author, much as a sociopathic boy might take a personal interest in a pet he alternately rewards and tortures. Stalin admired some of Bulgakov’s plays (he reportedly watched The Days of the Turbins more than a dozen times), was known to intervene on his behalf, and refrained from impr
Article from Reason.com