10 best works of Mikhail Bulgakov

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Mikhail Bulgakov is rightfully considered one of the most famous and talented Russian writers of the 20th century. Practically unrecognized during his lifetime, in our time his works are considered modern literary classics. The genius writer was born in Kiev, in the family of a professor of theology. He received his medical education and worked as a doctor for a long time, also served at the front as a military doctor. Bulgakov began his writing career in the 1920s, shortly after moving to Moscow. He published in metropolitan newspapers, then created scripts for plays, at the same time writing books. However, his career was not successful for long – the work of the writer was considered inappropriate against the background of the general communist ideology. Almost every work was criticized in the Soviet press, plays were often removed from the theatrical repertoire, books were forbidden to be published, and sometimes it even came to apartment searches. Desperate Bulgakov wrote a letter to the government asking for permission to go abroad or to allow staging performances at the Moscow Art Academic Theater. As a result, he received the position of assistant director at the Moscow Art Theater. During this period, the author created several interesting works, including the comedy “Ivan Vasilyevich”, which was later used to make the famous film by Leonid Gaidai. But his main work is considered the novel “The Master and Margarita”, which he wrote in the last years of his life.

Anyone interested in Russian literature should get acquainted with at least some of Bulgakov's creations. Below we bring to your attention a selection of his best books.

Review of the best works of Mikhail Bulgakov

Nomination a place Composition rating
Review of the famous works of Mikhail Bulgakov 10 Chichikov's adventures 4.1
9 Crimson Island 4.2
8 Fatal eggs 4.3
7 The devil 4.4
6 dog's heart 4.5
5 Cuff notes 4.6
4 The life of M. de Moliere 4.7
3 Theatrical novel 4.8
2 White Guard 4.9
1 Master and Margarita 5.0

Chichikov's adventures

Rating: 4.1

Chichikov's adventures

A small satirical story, defined by the author himself as “a ten-point poem with a prologue and epilogue.” Written in 1922. According to the plot, the revived Gogol heroes from Dead Souls find themselves in the post-revolutionary Moscow of the NEP (New Economic Policy) period. The main character is Pavel Chichikov, who, despite the changed historical situation, very quickly managed to settle in life. By means of cunning and deceit, the enterprising Chichikov, here too, turns out fraudulent schemes, amassing considerable capital. This is possible primarily due to the fact that corruption, lack of professionalism and negligence still accompany the activities of government officials, and ordinary people are still indifferent to those around them. On the pages of the story there was a place for characters from other Gogol's works. All unprincipled actors successfully exist in the 20th century, since the renewed state is no less mired in bureaucracy than a century ago.

Crimson Island

Rating: 4.2

Crimson Island

The action of the novel “The Crimson Island” takes place on a small island lost in the ocean, and the author took many characters from the novels of Rudyard Kipling and Jules Verne. But in fact, this kind of sarcastic story is a side view of the main historical events in Russia, starting with the October Revolution and ending with the period of the “new economic order”. Bulgakov wrote the heroes of The Crimson Island from real political figures, so the emperor Nicholas II was the prototype for the leader of the White Araps, and the head of the Provisional Government Kerensky is easily guessed in the person of the idler Kiri-Kuki. On the basis of the story in 1928, the writer created a play of the same name for the Chamber Theater, which was immediately warmly received by the audience, although after a short time it was banned from showing.

Fatal eggs

Rating: 4.3

Fatal eggs

A fantastic story written in 1924. One of the main characters is the scientist Vladimir Persikov, he developed the “red ray of life”, which significantly accelerates the development of living beings, makes them many times larger and stronger. The professor is going to test the new technology experimentally, but the head of the demonstration state farm, Alexander Rokk, is not going to wait, he intends to start the production of giant chickens with the help of a beam and has already enlisted the support of the Kremlin for this. Only instead of a batch of chicken eggs, Rokk receives crocodile and snake eggs due to a mistake by the postal workers. Aggressive reptiles that have grown to monstrous sizes deal with everyone in their path and move towards the densely populated capital. One of the main sources for the idea of ​​the book was the novel “Food of the Gods” by the English writer H.G. Wells. Based on the plot of the story “Fatal Eggs” in 1995, director Sergei Lomkin shot a full-length comedy-fantasy film.

The devil

Rating: 4.4

The devil

Bulgakov's book “The Devil's Day” reveals the theme of a typically Gogolian “little man” who faced the growing bureaucratic machine of the Soviet regime. Having become her victim, the clerk Korotkov loses his mind, starting to associate officials and civil servants with devilish force. After the dismissal of the main character, his finally clouded mind puts him on the brink of suicide. For some time, the work was not taken to print, but in the end the publication of the story took place – in 1924 on the pages of the almanac “Nedra”.

dog's heart

Rating: 4.5

dog's heart

The events of the fantastic story “Heart of a Dog” take place in the 20s of the last century. A talented surgeon, Professor Preobrazhensky, as part of an experiment to study methods of rejuvenation, decided to transplant the human pituitary gland to a homeless dog named Sharik. The donor was the drunkard and thief Klim Chugunkin, who died in a fight. After the operation, Sharik, to the amazement of the professor and his assistant, gradually began to turn into a human being. But it turned out that along with the human form, the dog took over all the worst features of its donor. However, neither rudeness nor love for drinking prevents Polygraph Sharik, as the newly-formed person was called, to successfully adapt to Moscow society, soon taking over the post of chief for the capture of stray animals. The story was first published in 1968 in Germany and Great Britain, and in the writer's homeland it was officially published only 19 years later. And 20 years later, director Vladimir Bortko made a two-part television film based on the story.

Cuff notes

Rating: 4.6

Cuff notes

“Notes on Cuffs” is a work of the epistolary genre, a kind of diary that Bulgakov kept during his travels around the country during the civil war. Due to the total shortage, sometimes there was not enough paper, and the author made some notes on the cuffs of his clothes, which explains the title of the book. It consists of two parts: the first tells in some detail about the life of the writer in the Caucasus, the second tells about the first months he spent in Moscow. Considerable attention is paid to Bulgakov's difficult relations with the current communist government, in particular, his plans for emigration abroad are discussed. In the narration, real facts and events are mixed with mysticism and “seasoned” with sharp Bulgakov's humor. During the life of the author, “Notes on the Cuffs” were never published in full.

The life of M. de Moliere

Rating: 4.7

The life of M. de Moliere

The historical novel introduces the reader to the biography of the famous French playwright and actor Jean-Baptiste Moliere. The story begins with the very birth of the hero of the book. In his youth, Moliere initially intended to follow in the footsteps of his upholsterer father, who prided himself on furnishing even the king himself with wallpaper. However, as soon as he saw a theatrical performance, he realized that he did not want to link his fate with anything but art. The work, despite its artistic form, has a solid foundation in the form of documentary evidence carefully studied by Bulgakov. In addition, the author colorfully and vividly describes the unique atmosphere of old France. In 1933, the manuscript was handed over to the publishing house, but it did not come to print – the editor considered that the book was written from a non-Marxist position and contained a veiled criticism of the Stalinist era. The first edition of “Moliere”, as the author originally called it, was released only 30 years after it was written.

Theatrical novel

Rating: 4.8

Theatrical novel

Bulgakov began writing this novel just a couple of weeks after the break of the creative union with the Moscow Art Academic Theater. It covers backstage theatrical life in detail, frankly and with considerable irony. The second title of the book is Notes of a Dead Man, since the main character is a novice playwright and writer named Sergei Maksudov, who committed suicide, who before his death bequeathed to the publisher to publish his work about the theater. The story easily guesses parallels to Bulgakov's relationship with the leadership of the Moscow Art Theater, in particular with Konstantin Stanislavsky. There is also criticism of Stanislavsky's theory that talent is acquired through training. “Theatrical novel” was written by the author without sketches and corrections, in one breath.

White Guard

Rating: 4.9

White Guard

The novel takes place during the civil war, in the center of the plot is a noble family living in Kiev, as well as their relatives and acquaintances. Trying to survive in the conditions of a social cataclysm, they observe the death of the world of the Russian intelligentsia and established cultural values. The book is partly autobiographical, almost all the characters are copied from specific people from the life of the author himself, moreover, the main events take place in the very house where the Bulgakov family once lived. In Russia, “White Guard” was published only partially in 1925, but it was completely published in France, a couple of years later. Based on the plot of the book, Bulgakov later created the play “Days of the Turbins”. In 2012, a mini-series based on the novel was released, directed by Sergei Snezhkin.

Master and Margarita

Rating: 5.0

Master and Margarita

The novel “The Master and Margarita” is a real pearl of not only Russian but also world literature; it is rightfully ranked among the best works of the 20th century. In the book, the author, without sacrificing the artistic value of the plot, managed to touch on a number of important philosophical topics. Good and evil, love, faith, biblical mythology, the search for meaning among the difficulties of everyday life – all of this found a place on the pages of Bulgakov's main masterpiece. The writer presented an alternative and highly original vision of the Devil and Christ, making them more multifaceted characters than is traditionally believed. In the images of the Master and Margarita, there is a connection with Mikhail Bulgakov himself and his devoted wife Elena. It took 12 years to create the novel, and even being seriously ill, the author continued to work until the last day of his life. He managed to finish only the draft manuscripts, after the death of the Russian genius, his wife was engaged in editing and attempts to publish the work. But all her efforts did not help to break through the Soviet censorship of that time, for the first time “The Master and Margarita” was published in full only in 1973. The book was filmed twice: directed by Yuri Kara (1994) and Vladimir Bortko (2005).


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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