[Milton-L] re: bulgakov

John Shawcross elea48 at insightbb.com
Thu Apr 23 14:06:14 EDT 2009

Jeffery Hodges asked about Mikhail Bulgakov's novel "The Master and  
Margarita": Valentin Boss has shown that since
the mid-eighteenth century there has been much published in Russia  
showing that Milton was a significant, influential,
and available author. See his "Milton and the Rise of Russian  
Satanism" (Toronto, 1991), or his entry in "A Milton
Encyclopedia," gen. ed.  William B. Hunter, vol. 9, pp. 20-43  
("Russa, Milton Influence in"). He does not mention
Bulgakov. Yet Bulgakov read and employed many well known writers in  
his many novels, short studies, and plays, and
perhaps there are more pieces of evidence than given in the one  
article that Jeffery turned up. There has been a lot of
scholarship on him and on that novel, which is a satire, an allegory  
presented against Russia's political scene from
1929 through 1940 (there were various altered editions during those  
years). It was banned by Stalin and he ran into
lots of trouble. But perhaps because the writers who have discussed  
that novel do not know Milton well I'm not aware
of citations alleging influence. For example, Andrew Barratt,  
"Between Two Worlds: A Critical Introduction to 'The
Master and Margarits" (Clarendon, 198): it stresses Goethe and the  
Faust legend; or Derek J. Hunis, "Bulgakov's
Apocalyptic Critique of Literature" (Edwin Mellen, 1996): it stresses  
Dante, Goethe, and the Bible. But Bulgakov also
wrote a play called "Adam i Eva," published in Moscow in 1931 and  
Paris in 1974. I find little discussion of the play,
nothing that is concerned with sources (and of course the Bible would  
be thought a major source). What he is
doing is making up a full story projected from Adam and Eve , which  
is also what Milton did. This might also be a
fertile reading to see whether any influence emerges. I hope you  
pursue this subject, Jeffery.


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