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Black Snow

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Paperback published by Melville House (Melville House)

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About This Book
A new edition of Bulgakov’s blistering satire about the great Russian director Stanislavski, inventor of “Method acting,” part of Melville House’s reissue of the Bulgakov backlist in Michael Glenny’s celebrated translations.

In 1926, a play based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The White Guard premiered at the prestigious Moscow Arts Theatre and it was an immediate and long-lasting success that laid the ground for the rest of Bulgakov’s career as a playwright and novelist.

But it was not an entirely positive experience, and this novel, written near the end of Bulgakov’s life, skewers the theatrical fraternity he had been a part of for many years, and the Stalinist system of censorship that suppressed his work.

Black Snow is the story of Maxudov, a young playwright whose play is chosen, almost at random, to be performed by the legendary Independent Theatre, and the chaos that ensues. The two co-directors of the theater, modeled after Stanislavski and his co-director, battle to control the production, star actresses throw daily fits, and with each rehearsal the chances of the play ever being ready to perform recedes. The ultimate backstage novel and a brilliant satire from one of the greatest modern Russian writers.
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A new edition of Bulgakov’s blistering satire about the great Russian director Stanislavski, inventor of “Method acting,” part of Melville House’s reissue of the Bulgakov backlist in Michael Glenny’s celebrated translations.

In 1926, a play based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The White Guard premiered at the prestigious Moscow Arts Theatre and it was an immediate and long-lasting success that laid the ground for the rest of Bulgakov’s career as a playwright and novelist.

But it was not an entirely positive experience, and this novel, written near the end of Bulgakov’s life, skewers the theatrical fraternity he had been a part of for many years, and the Stalinist system of censorship that suppressed his work.

Black Snow is the story of Maxudov, a young playwright whose play is chosen, almost at random, to be performed by the legendary Independent Theatre, and the chaos that ensues. The two co-directors of the theater, modeled after Stanislavski and his co-director, battle to control the production, star actresses throw daily fits, and with each rehearsal the chances of the play ever being ready to perform recedes. The ultimate backstage novel and a brilliant satire from one of the greatest modern Russian writers.
Product Details
Paperback (224 pages)
Published: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Melville House
Imprint: Melville House
ISBN: 9781612192147
Other books byMikhail Bulgakov
  • The Heart of a Dog

    The Heart of a Dog
    A new edition of Bulgakov’s fantastical precursor to The Master and Margarita, part of Melville House’s reissue of the Bulgakov backlist in Michael Glenny’s celebrated translations. A key work of early modernism, this is the superbly comic story of a Soviet scientist and a scroungy Moscow mongrel named Sharik. Attempting a medical first, the scientist transplants the glands of a petty criminal into the dog and, with that, turns a distinctly worryingly human animal loose on the city. The new, lecherous, vulgar, Engels-spouting Sharik soon finds his niche in govenrmental bureaucracy as the official in charge of purging the city of cats. A Frankenstein fable that’s as funny as it is terrifying, Heart of a Dog has also been read as a fierce parable of the Russian Revolution. It was rejected for publication by the censors in 1925, and circulated in samizdat for years until Michael Glenny translated it into English in 1968—long before it was allowed to be officially published in the Soviet Union. That happened only in 1987, although till this day the book remains one of Mikhail Bulgakov’s most controversial novels in his native country.

    A Dog's Heart

    A Dog's Heart
    Through surreal, often grotesque humour, Bulgakov gives an ingenious new twist to the "Frankenstein" parable, in a new translation of one of the most popular satires on the Russian Revolution and on Soviet society Having been scalded by boiling water earlier that day, and with little chance to survive the severe winter night, a stray dog is left for dead on the streets. Lamenting his fate, he is ill-prepared for the chance arrival of a wealthy professor who befriends him and takes him home. However, it seems the professor's motives are not entirely altruistic—an expert in medical experimentation, he sees his new charge as the potential subject for a bizarre operation, and implants glands from a dead criminal in the dog. The resulting half-man, half-beast is, as to be expected, a monstrosity, yet one that fits in remarkably well with Soviet society.

    The Master and Margarita

    The Master and Margarita
    Nothing in the whole of literature compares with The Master and Margarita. Full of pungency and wit, this luminous work is Bulgakov's crowning achievement, skilfully blending magical and realistic elements, grotesque situations and major ethical concerns. Written during the darkest period of Stalin's repressive reign and a devastating satire of Soviet life, it combines two distinct yet interwoven parts, one set in contemporary Moscow, the other in ancient Jerusalem, each brimming with incident and with historical, imaginary, frightful and wonderful characters. Although completed in 1940, The Master and Margarita was not published until 1966 when the first section appeared in the monthly magazine Moskva. Russians everywhere responded enthusiastically to the novel's artistic and spiritual freedom and it was an immediate and enduring success. This new translation has been made from the complete and unabridged Russian text.  

    Heart of a Dog

    Heart of a Dog
    I first read Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita on a balcony of the Hotel Metropole in Saigon on three summer evenings in 1971. The tropical air was heavy and full of the smells of cordite and motorcycle exhaust and rotting fish and wood-fire stoves, and the horizon flared ambiguously, perhaps from heat lightning, perhaps from bombs. Later each night, as was my custom, I would wander out into the steamy back alleys of the city, where no one ever seemed to sleep, and crouch in doorways with the people and listen to the stories of their culture and their ancestors and their ongoing lives. Bulgakov taught me to hear something in those stories that I had not yet clearly heard. One could call it, in terms that would soon thereafter gain wide currency, "magical realism". The deadpan mix of the fantastic and the realistic was at the heart of the Vietnamese mythos. It is at the heart of the present zeitgeist. And it was not invented by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as wonderful as his One Hundred Years of Solitude is. Garcia Marquez's landmark work of magical realism was predated by nearly three decades by Bulgakov's brilliant masterpiece of a novel. That summer in Saigon a vodka-swilling, talking black cat, a coven of beautiful naked witches, Pontius Pilate, and a whole cast of benighted writers of Stalinist Moscow and Satan himself all took up permanent residence in my creative unconscious. Their presence, perhaps more than anything else from the realm of literature, has helped shape the work I am most proud of. I'm often asked for a list of favorite authors. Here is my advice. Read Bulgakov. Look around you at the new century. He will show you things you need to see.

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