The Soviet Union in Bulgakov's time
In order to understand the satire in The Master and Margarita better, one should know its context. Bulgakov, born in 1891, was youngster and adolescent in the last years of the regime of czar Nicolas II (1868-1918). During the civil war following the revolution he took the Whites' side
When Stalin came to power, Bulgakov had a very difficult time. His stories, novels and plays were very popular among the public, but unanimously abused by the state critics and banned by the authorities. Though Stalin said that he loved Bulgakov's plays, he was prohibited to publish them, and the staging of his plays was forbidden.
In the chapter Historical and political context you can read how the Soviet Union could emerge, and how the country was organised under Stalin, with a special focus on the secret police which played a major role, not only in The Master and Margarita, but also in daily life of the soviet citizens. We also describe remarkable similarities with the practices used in the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin.
In the chapter Economical context two other important themes from the novel are discussed: the housing policy and the currency policy.
In the chapter Social and cultural context some social and cultural aspects of the Russian society are described which were not different in the Stalin period than in the periods before or after. But knowing them can help to better understand some parts of the novel.
In the chapter The literary scenery we describe not only the environment in which writers such as Bulgakov had to try to survive, but we also introduce you to the poet Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin (1799-1837), who is often mentioned in The Master and Margarita, and who, still today, is of great importance for all Russians.
In the chapter The musical scenery we describe the soundtrack of Bulgakov's life with, among others, the upcoming Jazz music, controlled by the State enterprise for the production, storage and distribution of sound recordings Мелодия [Melodiya], and the underground music produced by the Russian bards.
In the chapter Propaganda we describe how the propaganda in the Soviet Union did everything to promote the ideology of the Party, and again we found remarkable similarities with the practices used in the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin.
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