Mikhail Bulgakov: Perceptions across times


Based on the historical and functional (hermeneutic) research methods, this article analyzes the main stages of perception of M. Bulgakov’s work in the Soviet (Russian) culture, which makes it possible to trace social and cultural relationships between the writer and the periods of the development of society, to find out its impact on the reader and, vice versa, the impact of axiological and aesthetic positions of the reader on the interpretation of his literary heritage. During the writer’s life, his work was usually evaluated as ideologically orthodox. The so-called “thaw” period was the period of the sensational discovery of the writer. The publication of his novel “The Master and Margarita” (1966–1967) initiated an active interest of literary critics and artists in the works of Mikhail Bulgakov in terms of different arts (theater, cinema, painting, etc.). The post-Soviet era gave him the title of a classic of Russian literature, even mythologizing his image, which causes certain disagreement. A. Varlamov’s novel about the writer, published in the “Lives of Outstanding People” (Russ. “Zhizn’ Zamechatel’nykh Liudei”) series, though deep and scientific, is not devoid of the biographer’s subjective vision of both the text and the fate of his character. Finally, today’s interpretation of M. Bulgakov’s work is getting increasingly media, popular, mass culture, which actively transforms the writer into an advertising brand. The names of cafés and restaurants, real estate agencies, a kitsch astrological novel by P. Globa, etc., using the fate of the Master and his characters, obviously have a purely commercial purpose.

Key words: 

hermeneutic method, M. Bulgakov, interpretation, classical literature, mass culture, literary brand.

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