A Russian Writer Speaks to Stalin

A Russian Writer Speaks to Stalin

Throughout most of his career, Mikhail Bulgakov, author of The Master and Margarita, was under attack by Party critics. By 1930 his plays were barred from the Soviet stage, and ultimately a general ban was placed upon all his publications, exposing the young writer to what he termed the stark prospects of “financial ruin, the street, and death.”

In such a state of mind Bulgakov wrote a letter to the Soviet government, requesting permission to leave Russia, or, as an alternative, to work in the theater. In an unprecedented telephone call from Stalin, Bulgakov was given the verdict: no permission to leave, but a work-assignment in the Moscow Art Theater.

Bulgakov’s letter to the Soviet government remained un...

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