By Lesley Milne
First released in 1996. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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Extra resources for Bulgakov: The Novelist-Playwright
For some time in the 1920s two systems of incentive coexisted in literature and the theatre. Culture was essential to the new Soviet regime as it bestowed dignity upon it; hence a certain initial tolerance towards the “eccentricities” and personal preferences of people active in the cultural field who were prerevolutionary household names. In the period of War Communism, as the journal The Life of Art (Zhizn’ iskusstva) fondly recalled in 1925, “workers in the arts enjoyed especial attention from the state.
Literature was given precisely formulated tasks and the problems were transformed from the creative into the purely technical. This in turn meant that the authorities had a vastly increased choice: in place of one intransigent Lev Tolstoi, dozens of newly-fledged writers from Tula guberniya would flock to fulfil the “social demand”. The position of a writer as a “person of free profession” was a dubious and compromised one; such a person belonged to no one and nowhere; such a person was not needed by the toiling masses.
All limits have been removed from what one can and can not discuss. The sentence structure is laconic; explanations are minimal; the appeal is to a shared social and cultural experience. That is perhaps one more reason why a novel printed a quarter of a century ago has not only entered the list of “prescribed texts” in schools, universities and libraries but has at the same time become the personal interlocutor of everyone on whose desk it lies. From the outset it presupposed an intimacy of communication.
Bulgakov: The Novelist-Playwright by Lesley Milne