Bulgakov and Tchaikovsky: Themes and Variations

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References to Tchaikovskyís works in Bulgakovís writing function without explanation and somewhat surreptitiously as both signifiers of the writerís antipathy toward the nascent com-munist regime and as hermeneutic devices. They reveal the authorís ambivalence toward the characters and the works themselves, such as The White Guard, ìA Dogís Heartî and The Master and Margarita. Failure to interpret these enigmatic signposts may present no obstacle to understanding the plot, but unlocking the puzzle signified by their presence offers a much richer appreciation for the conflicts and dilemmas confronting the characters. The reader unfamiliar with Tchaikovsky may skim over musical references in these three works as merely atmospheric. This article posits that such a reader gains an impression very different from that which arises upon consideration of the musical and thematic associations. This consideration provides not only a deeper appreciation of the works, but reveals the extent to which Bulgakov himself was of two minds in his relation to them.
Bulgakov, Tchaikovsky, Pushkin, Goethe, music, opera, signifier, hermeneutics, materialism, paradox
Pendergast, John M., "Bulgakov and Tchaikovsky: Themes and Variations" (2018).