Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 08:52:44
24 September 2018

  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.


Author: Anastasia Osipova
Translation: Paul E. Richardson
Illustrations/Images by Evgeny Sinitsyn

May/June 2017
Page 50   ( 4 pages)

Summary: Where better to begin a literary tour of Moscow than at Mikhail Bulgakov’s notoriously bad apartment, which had an important cameo in his most famous work.


Where is the best place to begin a literary pilgrimage in Moscow? Some believe it is the cozy courtyard of 10 Bolshaya Sadovaya. In 1921, a completely unknown doctor named Mikhail Bulgakov moved into a communal apartment, No. 50, in this building, with neither money nor possessions. And it was here that he broke with medicine and devoted himself to writing.

“This is the darkest period of my life. My wife and I are starving.” Bulgakov wrote in one of his letters at the time.

From this “bad flat,” as from many others, people disappeared from the late 1920s on. And even though Bulgakov left here before that period, this is part of the reason why the writer later called it “bad.” But that was not why he did not invite anyone to visit; that was because he was embarrassed by the squalor of his communal apartment. He did not get along with his neighbors. They reproached him for keeping the lights on late into the night and threatened to petition for his eviction (meanwhile they were busy making moonshine). Out of revenge, perhaps, he populated his stories and sketches with them.

Mikhail Afanasyevich created some of his best works in No. 50 – The White Guard, The Diaboliad, Notes on the Cuff – works that brought him a certain renown in Moscow literary circles. Little did anyone know at the time that another work had taken hold of his dreams – The Master and Margarita.

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