Dni Turbinykh. Posledenie dni (A. S. Pushkin) [The Days of the Turbins. The Last Days (A. S. Pushkin)].

Moscow, “Iskusstvo”, 1955.

8vo, pp. 119, [1], with a frontispiece portrait of Bulgakov and eight leaves of plates after photographs of performances; a fine copy in the original publisher’s taupe cloth, lettered gilt.

£1500

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Dni Turbinykh. Posledenie dni (A. S. Pushkin) [The Days of the Turbins. The Last Days (A. S. Pushkin)].

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First complete edition. The Days of the Turbins was Bulgakov’s most important play, and the one on which his lasting reputation as a dramatist depends. It took as its basis his novel The White Guard (written 1921-3), which itself derived from an earlier (destroyed) play ‘The Turbin Brothers’. The White Guard was banned during serialization in Rossiia in 1925 (and only published complete in Paris in 1927-9), but its adaptation for the stage, The Days of the Turbins was a sell-out when it premièred on 5 October 1926.

Its theme was ‘the fate of Russian intellectuals and officers of the Tsarist Army caught up in revolution and civil war’ (Terras), and despite the controversy, it was a favourite of Stalin, who attended no fewer than 15 times. All of Bulgakov’s plays were banned in 1929, but he was allowed back into circulation after joining the Moscow Arts Theatre; The Days of the Turbins was hastily re-staged in 1932, after Stalin casually asked why it was no longer running. Portions of the play had been published in 1927 as interpolations in a corrupt text of The White Guard, and an English translation had been printed in Boston in 1934, but the present edition was the first appearance of the complete Russian text.

The Last Days was not staged until 1943, after Bulgakov’s death, when it ran under the title Alexander Pushkin. The plates illustrate stagings of The Days of the Turbins at the Moscow Arts Theatre in 1926 and the Stanislavsky Theatre in 1954, and of The Last Days in 1943 and at Warsaw in 1949.

Ellendea Proffer, An international bibliography of works by and about Mikhail Bulgakov, no. 23.

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