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A Dead Man's Memoir: A Theatrical Novel (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 4 Oct 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (4 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140455140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140455144
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 326,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kiev in May 1891. He studied and briefly practised medicine and, after indigent wanderings through revolutionary Russia and the Caucasus, he settled in Moscow in 1921. His sympathetic portrayal of White characters in his stories, in the plays The Days of the Turbins (The White Guard), which enjoyed great success at the Moscow Arts Theatre in 1926, and Flight (1927), and his satirical treatment of the officials of the New Economic Plan, led to growing criticism, which became violent after the play The Purple Island.

His later works treat the subject of the artist and the tyrant under the guise of historical characters, with plays such as Molière, staged in 1936, Don Quixote, staged in 1940, and Pushkin, staged in 1943. He also wrote a brilliant biography, highly original in form, of his literary hero, Jean-Baptiste Molière, but The Master and Margarita, a fantasy novel about the devil and his henchmen set in modern Moscow, is generally considered his masterpiece. Fame, at home and abroad, was not to come until a quarter of a century after his death at Moscow in 1940.

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Review

"The book is gentle in tone if fierce in substance." -"The New York Times Book Review" "Bulgakov is the first magical realist." -Craig Raine, author of "T.S. Eliot"

About the Author

Mikhail Afanasievich Bulgakov was born in 1891 in Kiev, today the capital of Ukraine. His father was a professor at the Theological Academy. After finishing high school, Bulgakov entered the Medical School of Kiev University, graduating in 1916. In 1913 he married Tatyana Lappa, who moved with him after graduation to provincial villages, where he practiced medicine. He wrote about his experiences as a doctor in his early works Notes on Cuffs and Notes of a Young Country Doctor.

Andrew Bromfield is a regular translator from the Russian, and has translated works by Boris Akunin, Vladimir Voinovich and Irina Denezhkina, as well as titles by Victor Pelevin.

Keith Gessen is a contributing editor at New York magazine. He is also co-editor of n+1, a new journal of literature and politics.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Blackbeard on 20 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. For some reason I never researched Bulgakov further after I read The Master and Margarita, which was fantastic, and I suppose I had read somewhere that it was his only novel, so I was pleasantly surpised when I found this one, and grabbed it immediately. Bulgakov writes in a style somewhat similar to Dostoevsky and Gogol (not that the latter two have the same style, but he has something in common with both of them), which is exactly the style that I have grown to love. The story is about a poor young man, trying first to sell a novel and later a play, and his trying experiences with newspapers, playwrights and contemporaries. The style of writing is somehow jumbled and erratic, though in a pleasant way (if that makes sense), and is not confusing in the same way Joyce is, for example. It's difficult to explain what it was that the Russians (and Ukrainians) did that made them so great, but there are none I enjoy more than them (and the late 19th century in particular). I gave this four stars instead of five because the book ended rather abruptly, and I think a five star book should also have a good (or at least a complete) ending. Another drawback is the introduction, which I am completely against on principle, since it usually gives away most of the book before one has even read it, just like scenes from a movie on a DVD before one can even push start. One can of course skip it and read it after, which I usually do, but I think it would be better and more appropriate to put these "introductions" at the end of books instead of at the beginning. Bulgakov was one of the last great Russian writers, and I would recommend any with an appreciation of literature to read him.
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Format: Paperback
I have stumbled upon Bulgakov quite recently. I found a dirt-cheap edition of "The Master and Margarita" which sported in the cover a huge cat sitting on a couch smoking a cigarette, drinking whisky and holding a smoking gun. I have a knack for the bizarre and this was as odd and funny as possible. It also helped that I absolutely adore cats. Of course, such things do not usually inform my decisions on what to read, so I researched on the writer and it seemed to me that I would enjoy his work a great deal. It appeared to be as absurd and at the same time deep as is Gogol's best work. I bought it, loved the book and became tremendously curious about his other works.
"A Dead Man's Memoir: A Theatrical Novel" is a considerably less bizarre and absurd work. It concerns Maxudov(a fictional version of Bulgakov himself), a novelist who, upon adapting his failed novel into a play, attracts the interest of the major theatre in his city who is bent on performing it, to which the writer agrees (an agreement that seems to have a very "Faustian" quality to it). Things do not go smoothly however, for Maxudov has to contend with the censor's insistence on changing key scenes,the actors and director's massive egos and the envy of other writers.
Bulgakov employs some brilliant metaficcional devices. The novel that Maxudov adapted as a play is Bulgakov's very own "The White Guard" which in real life was also by him adapted into a play called "The Days Of The Turbins", which in turn was also played in the theatre and achieved significant sucess. Bulgakov also had to struggle with the same difficulties as Maxudov in his life; therefore the novel is extremely autobiographical.
The novel has however, one shortcoming. It is incomplete.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A great satire filled with great metaficcional devices. 1 April 2013
By Hugo Melo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have stumbled upon Bulgakov quite recently. I found a dirt-cheap edition of "The Master and Margarita" which sported in the cover a huge cat sitting on a couch smoking a cigarette, drinking whisky and holding a smoking gun. I have a knack for the bizarre and this was as odd and funny as possible. It also helped that I absolutely adore cats. Of course, such things do not usually inform my decisions on what to read, so I researched on the writer and it seemed to me that I would enjoy his work a great deal. It appeared to be as absurd and at the same time deep as is Gogol's best work. I bought it, loved the book and became tremendously curious about his other works.
"A Dead Man's Memoir: A Theatrical Novel" is a considerably less bizarre and absurd work. It concerns Maxudov(a fictional version of Bulgakov himself), a novelist who, upon adapting his failed novel into a play, attracts the interest of the major theatre in his city who is bent on performing it, to which the writer agrees (an agreement that seems to have a very "Faustian" quality to it). Things do not go smoothly however, for Maxudov has to contend with the censor's insistence on changing key scenes,the actors and director's massive egos and the envy of other writers.
Bulgakov employs some brilliant metaficcional devices. The novel that Maxudov adapted as a play is Bulgakov's very own "The White Guard" which in real life was also by him adapted into a play called "The Days Of The Turbins", which in turn was also played in the theatre and achieved significant sucess. Bulgakov also had to struggle with the same difficulties as Maxudov in his life; therefore the novel is extremely autobiographical.
The novel has however, one shortcoming. It is incomplete. Bulgakov interrupted the writing of this novel to complete what would become his masterpiece "the Master And Margarita". However, it is clear that most of what he intended to lampoon and criticize is present in what was written of the novel. Therefore, the fact that it is incomplete takes very little of it's interest, strength and brilliancy. To claim that this novel is pointless to read due to it's incomplete state is to claim the same of many of Kafkas's works. For who would argue that "The Castle" is not worth reading because it was never finished?
13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Bulgakov at his best 5 July 2008
By Matthew R. Gardner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is such a great book that someone such as myself that had no interest in the theater or plays could not put it down. That is because this book is less about theater and more about people and living under oppression. Here is a biography of sorts on how a great work of writing can be buried under the weight of large egos, jealousy, and the soveit system. Yet this book dose not exclusivly apply to a period of time or place, it is made timeless through its superb use of memorable and realistic characters. This novel gives every reader the abailty to feel the pain of having ones best work destroyed before there very eyes and is highly recommened for people that have read any previous works of Bulgakov.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Rival to the Great Russian Authors 9 Jan. 2013
By Jillian Igarashi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Bulgakov creates such a believably pathetic protagonist--ridiculous, pathetic, and contemptable all at once--and dark, Dickensian characters. It's a wonder more people don't read this book in addition to his better known "The Master and Margherita." This is Bulgakov's hidden gem, and it's further proof that he deserves to stand among the other great Russian authors of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Please check out my other book reviews at LitBeetle.com!
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Buglakov is a favorite!! 27 Sept. 2012
By yams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent Buglakov novel; a bit hard to read, as all Buglakov's novel, but well worth it if you are a lover of his works. Excellent price on hard to find classics!! Way to go Amazon!!
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