Read The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov Michael Glenny Online


The White Guard is less famous than Mikhail Bulgakov's comic hit, The Master and Margarita, but it is a lovely book, though completely different in tone. It is set in Kiev during the Russian revolution and tells a story about the war's effect on a middle-class family (not workers). The story was not politically correct and thereby contributed to Bulgakov's lifelong troubleThe White Guard is less famous than Mikhail Bulgakov's comic hit, The Master and Margarita, but it is a lovely book, though completely different in tone. It is set in Kiev during the Russian revolution and tells a story about the war's effect on a middle-class family (not workers). The story was not politically correct and thereby contributed to Bulgakov's lifelong troubles with the Soviet authorities. It was, however, well-loved, and the novel was turned into a successful play at the time of its publication in 1967....

Title : The White Guard
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ISBN : 9780099490661
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
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The White Guard Reviews

  • StevenGodin
    2019-05-23 23:31

    After graduating from Kiev University, Mikhail Bulgakov would go on to decide his future lie in literature rather than practicing as a doctor, during which he witnessed the horrors of the Russian civil war. Bothered though by the censors and political unrest, Bulgakov would write to Stalin asking to be allowed to emigrate, if he couldn't make a living as a writer in the USSR. And the word goes Stalin actually phoned him up offering a job in the Moscow Arts Theatre instead. Similar to that of revolutionary writer Victor Serge, Bulgakov's work only saw the light of day posthumously. Safe to say, thank god it did.Not as well known as his most recognizable 'The Master and Margarita', The White guard is certainly closer to non-fiction, and built on Bulgakov's own experiences during the turmoil and unpredictability of conflict. The story takes place in a snow covered Kiev, 1918, turning the spotlight on the once wealthy Turbin family. After their mother passes away, the three children of, doctor Alexei, the oldest, Elena, twenty four, and seventeen year old Nikolka face up the fact of a new regime, as Bolsheviks, Socialists and Germans fight for total control over the city. Elena's husband Captain Talberg would leave for battle, as the household enters a fragile and worrying time.The city itself is vivid to the eyes, as confusion grows on the streets as to who is fighting with who?, through all it's unorganized chaos, Bulgakov does a grand job of showing just that, the chaos.Nothing is ever perceived clear as to what is actually going on, in terms of leadership.Bulgakov asserted that Kiev changed hands some 14 times in little over a year, and could have written an epic Tolstoyish novel that covers more ground, but this is more of a snapshot, a panoramic view, moving from character to character at regular intervals, and it's length pleased me fully. The departing German Imperial Army lead by the Hetman of Ukraine are replaced by opportunist leader Petlyura's supposed rise to power, whilst the Ukrainian nationalist movement along with the 'The White Guard' (supporters of the Tsar) jostle in the background. Both brothers Alexei and Nikolka are White Guard officers who place their lives in danger as change takes shape. There is no doubt Bulgakov pokes fun at both Petlyura and Hetman for their weak inabilities, and the sheer waste of life, youth and energy sacrificed in fighting. And Bulgakov seems to foresee tribulations yet to come. The novel is very military Regarding the narrative, not all the time, but when things get going in terns of the different forces involved, Bulgakov clearly knows his stuff, corruption in rife, anti-Semitism is high, and the various armies struggle with personnel and supplies during some seriously cold weather. But the household of the Turbins still remains central to the story, which provides the humane touch, although it doesn't feature as often during the middle third, Elena waits for news on husband and one of the brothers who failed to return home, whilst friends of the family come and go, each with their own problems.The Turbins do side with Tsar, but there isn't any reel political stance from Bulgakov's viewpoint, as normal life is trying to continue, people get up for work, mingle out shopping, kids play out in the snow little realizing what's happening around them, and folk gather to talk rumours that spread like wildfire. There are gaps in between the conflict where Bulgakov clearly shows his love for Kiev, the ancient cathedral sits graceful, the huge statue of Saint Vladimir overlooks the city holding aloft the cross, whilst a blanket of snow wistfully settles on the homes and buildings below, creating a whiteness through dark times. Bulgakov presents a glimpse of the fear, confusion and death that faced so many, and he does it exceptionally well.The snow would melt, the grass would grow, and the sun would rise to dry the blood of battle....but sadly one hundred years on, not much has changed, divided territories are still the recipe for disaster, where loved ones will not be returning to loves ones, and all for what?

  • Ioannis Anastasiadis
    2019-05-30 02:23

    Σε λίγες μέρες συμπληρώνονται εκατό χρόνια από την Οκτωβριανή εργατική επανάσταση (1917) που επακολούθησε αυτής της Φεβρουριανής των αστοδημοκρατων η οποία είχε ως αποτέλεσμα την πτώση της Τσαρικής Αυτοκρατορίας, την άμεση κ αναπόφευκτη παραίτηση του Νικόλαου Β κ τον τερματισμό της δυναστείας των Ρομανοφ έπειτα από 300 χρόνια. Με την εγκατάσταση κ την μετάβαση της εξουσίας στα Σοβιέτ ως όργανα λαϊκής εξουσίας, την σταδιακή κατάργηση παλιών οργάνων και Διοικητικών θεσμών, την άμεση εφαρμογή των περίφημων ‘διαταγμάτων της Γης και της Ειρήνης’ δημιουργήθηκε η εντύπωση της προσδοκώμενης Αλλαγής. Τον Ιανουάριο του 1918 ο Τρότσκι αναλαμβάνει την αναδιάρθρωση του Στρατού κυρίως με την στρατολόγηση εργατών και χωρικών -υποχρεωτική που οδήγησε ακόμη και στην παραδειγματική εκτέλεση ελάχιστων που αρνήθηκαν να συνεισφέρουν στην υπεράσπιση της Ιδέας-. Και εγένετο ο Κόκκινος Στρατός.Η αντίσταση στο νέο εργατικό καθεστώς του Λένιν, το όποιο ανήλθε στην εξουσία εν μια ιστορική νυκτι στην Πετρούπολη, αρχίνισε από την επομένη κιόλας ημέρα .Παλιοί μοναρχικοί, αντικαθεστωτικοί, η καταργηθείσα Δουμά με τα αστικά πολιτικά της κόμματα, η απελθούσα μεσαία τάξη εναντιώθηκαν, εξεδήλωσαν πίστη στην Προσωρινή Αστική Κυβέρνηση της Φεβρουαριανής Επανάστασης και η έναρξη ενός οδυνηρού πολύπλευρου Εμφυλίου Πολέμου υπό τις ευλογιές των Ευρωπαϊκών Δυνάμεων –που ανησυχούσαν από την μεριά τους για την εξάπλωση των σοσιαλιστικών ιδεών- είναι γεγονός. Απότοκο της ένας νέος στρατός, με διαφορετικό χρωματισμό, με διαφορετικές επιδιώξεις και διεκδικήσεις αλλά παρόμοιες νοσηρές ματαιοδοξίες, η Λευκή Φρουρά. ''Ερυθρός Οφθαλμoν αντί Λευκού Οφθαλμού'' για μια ακόμη πολιτική κ ιδεολογική επικράτηση.Δεκέμβριος του 1918, βρισκόμαστε στην παγωμένη κ ντυμένη στην καταχνιά Ουκρανία, στην γενέτειρα Πόλη του Μπουλγκακωφ, στο Κίεβο που δοκιμάζεται και από τον δικό της Εμφύλιο πόλεμο μεταξύ ακραίων Ουκρανών εθνικιστών/συμμοριτών και ένα συνονθύλευμα από Λευκοφρουρους, αντιμπολσεβικικούς, μοναρχικούς, Γερμανούς κτλ. Ειρήσθω εν παρόδω, σύμφωνα με την συνθήκη που έμεινε γνωστή ως ‘συνθήκη άνευ προσαρτήσεων-αποζημιώσεων’ και υπεγράφη στο Μπρεστ-Λιτοφσκ, τον Μάρτιο του 1918, μεταξύ των Μπολσεβίκων κ των Κεντρικών Δυνάμεων, η Ουκρανία διοικείτο από Ουκρανό στρατιωτικό διοικητή, τον περιβόητο Γκετμαν, εγκάθετο και άνθρωπο των Γερμανών. Κεντρικός πρωταγωνιστής του έργου είναι η οικογένεια και η αφήγηση της ζωής των αδελφών Τουρμπιν που μόλις έχουν κηδεψει την μητέρα τους . Ο μεγαλύτερος γιος, στρατιωτικός ιατρός, ταλαιπωρημένος από τις κακουχίες ενός ταπεινωτικού πόλεμου, επαναπατρισθέντας στην Πόλη με όνειρα και φιλοδοξίες Αλεξει -στου οποίου το πρόσωπο διακρίνουμε αρκετά στοιχειά από τον βίο του Μπουλγκακωφ- η όμορφη, στοργική και προστάτρια πλέον Γιελενα και ο μικρότερος Τουρμπιν ο Νικολκα, δόκιμος αξιωματικός, πατριώτης με ένα βλέμμα αγνό, με ένα νεανικό αυθορμητισμό και με μια κιθάρα συντροφιά να γρατζουνάει στρατιωτικούς σκοπούς, όλοι αυτοί λοιπόν αλλά κ η Ανιουτα την οποία μεγάλωσε η μαμα-Τουρμπιν διαβιούν σε ένα διώροφο κτίριο στην Άνω Πόλη όπου η θαλπωρή, η τρυφερότητα της οικογενειακής εστίας, η διαπαιδαγώγηση και η μέθεξη σε όλες τις Τέχνες κυριαρχούν στην καθημερινότητα. Το πανέμορφο γωνιακό κτίριο με κύριο χρώμα την κίτρινη ώχρα και τις λευκές αποχρώσεις στα πολυάριθμα μπροστινά κ λιγότερα πλαϊνά παράθυρα του δεν είναι δημιούργημα μυθοπλασίας, ξεχωρίζει αμέσως για την αρχιτεκτονική του δομή και μορφή και λειτουργεί ως 'Μουσείο του Μπουλγκακωφ', οικία άλλωστε κ της ενηλικίωσης του.Μέσα από τον πολυτάραχο προσωπικό βίο των αδελφών Τουρμπιν κ των αγαπημένων τους παιδικών φίλων παρακολουθούμε ταυτόχρονα κ την μάχη μεταξύ των Ουκρανών Εθνικιστών του Αρχάγγελου της καταστροφής Πετλιουρα και των συνασπισμένων δυνάμεων της Λευκής Φρουράς γ την κατάληψη της Πόλης. Μιας μοναδικής Ιστορικής πόλης που βρέχεται από το τρίτο μεγαλύτερο ποταμό της Ευρώπης, τον Δνείπερο, στης οποίας κουδουνίζουν ευχάριστα στους πλακόστρωτους τα περίφημα τραμ με τις κίτρινες φουσκωτές θέσεις, φωνασκούν λαλίστατα οι αμαξάδες προς άγρα πελατείας, που έχει τα περισσότερα και τα πιο δαιδαλώδη πάρκα στο κόσμο, όπου έχει γίνει το τελευταίο καταφύγιο προσφύγων από την Μόσχα κ την Πετρούπολη διαφορετικών προσωπικοτήτων και επαγγελματιών δίνοντας νέα ώθηση στην πολεοδομική, οικονομική και πολιτισμική ανθηση, που ‘καπνίζει σαν πολύεδρη κηρήθρα’. Ο φιλαλήθης συγγραφέας απεικονίζει ρεαλιστικά τις καταστροφικές διαστάσεις που μπορεί να λάβει ένας πόλεμος. Σε ένα Έθνος ακαλλιέργητο, αμόρφωτο, εξαθλιωμένο από συνεχείς πολέμους και από την διχοστασία, ο κίνδυνος να εξαρτηθεί η μοίρα ενός λαού από εγκληματικούς στρατηγούς και από φυγόπονους οκνηρούς αξιωματικούς όπου η τιμή κ η ευσυνειδησία είναι περιττό βάρος είναι νομοτελειακός. Η οξεία δριμύτητα με την όποια καταγγέλλονται οι πολιτικοί κ οι στρατιωτικοί έρχεται σε εμφανής αντιδιαστολή με την ηρωισμό που δίνεται από μερικούς κατοίκους της Πόλης, τους ρομαντικούς συνταγματάρχες σαν τον Ναι Τουρς, τους άβγαλτους δόκιμους σαν τον ανυπότακτο Νικολκα Τουρμπιν που μάχονται μεταξύ άλλων και για την οικογένεια τους κ το σπίτι τους το μοναδικό χώρο που μπορεί κανείς να νιώσει θαλπωρή και ζεστασιά. ''Ο κόσμος έξω είναι βρώμικος, αιματοβαμμένος, άνευ νοήματος''Για τον Μπουλγκακωφ ‘'τα όπλα ο άνθρωπος τα δημιούργησε χωρίς να το ξέρει για ένα μόνο σκοπό- να προστατεύουν την ανθρώπινη γαλήνη και εστία. Για τίποτα άλλο δεν πρέπει να πολεμάει κανείς’’.Υ.Γ. Οι εκδόσεις Ερατώ αποφάσισαν να μας δώσουν το πρώτο μυθιστόρημα του σπουδαίου Μπουλγκακωφ σε νέα μετάφραση δίδοντας το δύσκολο έργο της σε μια έμπειρη μεταφράστρια Ρωσικών εμβληματικών κειμένων, την Ελένη Μπακοπουλου . Στην έκδοση συνυπάρχει ένα χρονολογιο με προσωπικές φωτογραφίες και αναφορές στα σπουδαιότερα γεγονότα που στιγμάτισαν την ζωή του Μιχαηλ Μπουλγκακωφ. Ακόμη σπουδαιότερης σημασίας είναι το επίμετρο ενός κριτικού Λογοτεχνίας , του Ιγκορ Μπελζα ο οποίος μέσα σε τριάντα σελίδες βομβαρδίζοντας μας με ουσιώδεις πληροφορίες και εύστοχα σχόλια (κυρίως απουσιάζουν παραληρηματικά, επιτηδευμένα, δυσανάγνωστα ευφυολογήματα άλλων αντίστοιχων Ελληνικών εκδόσεων) δίνει νέα πνοή και κατανόηση στο επικό κείμενο και την συγγραφή του Μπουλκακωφ, η οποία είναι τόσο πλούσια σε καλλιτεχνικές εικόνες, σε ποιητικότητα, ενάντια στον βάναυσο κ ωμό πολεμικό ρεαλισμό και πλουσια σε αναφορές σε άλλους μεγάλους συγγράφεις -στον μέντορα του Πούσκιν, στον Γκόγκολ που ανακάλυψε όταν ήταν εννιά χρονών, στον Γκαιτε αλλά και στην αγαπημένη του 'Αποκάλυψη' του Ιωάννη που γράφτηκε στο πανέμορφο νησί της Πάτμου και η επίδραση της είναι πανταχού παρών- πράγμα που αν μη τι άλλο επιτάσσει στον γοητευμένο αναγνώστη την επανάγνωση του έργου, κάτι που συμβαίνει μόνο με σπουδαία κ απολαυστικά έργα.

  • Janet
    2019-05-31 02:18

    Bulgakov's elegant first novel about the unfolding of the October revolution in Kiev--referred to as The City in the novel--has been rereleased by the wonderful independent publisher Melville House this year, in the Michael Glenny translation. Outstanding.Told through multiple points of view, the book centers upon two days in the Russian Civil war, December 13 and 14, 1918, when the city of Kiev, up to then controlled by the Ukrainian Hetman Skoropadsky, a German puppet and ally of the Monarchist Russians, falls to the armies of Petlyura, a Ukranian peasant nationalist, a figure of mystery and rumor. The enemy of the Whites, Petlyura's troops especially target the Russian officers who have supported the corrupt Skoropadsky and the Russian imperialist presence. As Faulkner said, the past is not over. It is not even past.The heart of the novel is the family of the Turbins, Alexei, a doctor returning from WWI, his little brother Nikolai, 17 and a cadet at the Russian military academy, and their sister Elena, the muse of a circle of Alexei's officer friends, each quickly but masterfully drawn, as well as the Turbin's comic foil, Vasily Lisovich, known as Vasilisa (after the folk heroine Vasilisa the Beautiful) an almost Doestoyevskian idiot who is the Turbin's downstairs neighbor.Admirably told, the novel reveals the hand of Bulgakov the dramatist as well as that of the prose artist. I especially admired the skill in passing the story from one point of view to another, the brilliant timing. The dreams and Alexei Turbin's delirium in a fever from typhus very much herald the arrival of the surrealist Master and Margarita, as well as recalling some of the more feverish moments of The Magic Mountain.The White Guard beautifully portrays the chaos of a civil war, in which rumor is only contradicted by actual shooting, in which someone's giving you orders one minute and in the next, jumps on a train heading for Germany, or simply disappears. There is no clearcut 'good' or 'bad' in this book, except for loyalty itself. Although it describes the taking of Kiev from the White side, it shows that the real loyalty in this world lives in one's family (the Turbins) and friends (the officers), a total stranger who saves your life, or a superior who holds his ground in the face of a dissolving defense. Bulgakov, it was said, had a very happy home life growing up, and the affection and mutual aid of the three Turbins and their household definitely reflects that. The prose work was published in 1925 as a magazine serial, but the magazine folded before the serial was complete. The popular play based on this story ran in Soviet Russia from 1926 to 1941--though the book did not appear until 1966. Stalin was said to have seen the play many times, and it probably saved Bulgakov's life. The Master and Margarita was far more politically questionable and never saw the light of day in Bulgakov's lifetime.

  • Laura
    2019-06-12 22:35

    From BBC Radio 4 Extra:1/2: Kiev is protected by an uneasy alliance. Two brothers discover it's a bad time to be Tsarist. Stars Paul Hilton and James Loye.2/2: The Turbin brothers find their survival skills tested, and Elena is driven to intense prayer.

  • Kerry
    2019-06-03 01:30

    A trip to Kiev cannot be complete without a little Bulgakov. A museum dedicated to the master lies just off of St. Andrew’s Descent, a cobblestone street passing from St. Sophia’s cathedral down to the Dneiper. The museum is contained in House No. 13 where, at one time, Mikhail Bulgakov and his family lived. While “The White Guard” is not as widely known as “The Master and Margarita” (which Salman Rushdie drew upon heavily for “Midnight’s Children”), it provides a better sense of Ukraine and, particularly, Kiev.House No. 13 in Kiev provides the place, while 1918 and Ukrainian civil war provides the setting. The story is about the survival of the Turbin family in the midst of this upheaval. Bulgakov’s writing is transcendent:For many years before her death, in the house at No. 13 St. Alexei’s Hill, little Elena, Alexei the eldest and baby Nikolka had grown up in the warmth of the tiled stove that burned in the dining-room. How often they had followed the story of Peter the Great in Holland, ‘The Shipwright of Saardam’, portrayed on its glowing hot dutch tiles; how often the clock had played its gavotte; and always towards the end of December there had been a smell of pine-needles and candles burning on evergreen branches..…But clocks are fortunately quite immortal, as immortal as the Shipwright of Saardam, and however bad the times might be, the tiled Dutch stove, like a rock of wisdom, was always there to radiate life and warmth. (p.10)The tiled stove, upon which many political and apolitical messages are written, is nearly a character in its own right. The life it gives is not only comfort, but humor too:Then printed [on the stove:] in capitals, in Nikolka’s hand:I herby forbid the scribbling of nonsense on this stove. Any comrade found guilty of doing so will be shot and deprived of civil rights. Signed: Abraham Goldblatt,Ladies, Gentlemen’s and Women’s Tailor.Commissar, Podol District Committee.30th January 1918.Bulgakov’s mastery of these slices of life make this an ideal book for reading while in Kiev. The city comes alive with a personality that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Reading how things were, while seeing how things are makes both the past and the present striking.This book has not only history, but action too. The stakes are incredibly high. Characters are shot, they are robbed; characters live, they die. The politics of the novel provide a roiling backdrop, though I do not think politics is the point. The intersection of politics and daily life, particularly when politics has brought war, is a fascinating topic and one that Bulgakov explores, but never in a heavy-handed manner. The political is merely backdrop to the personal:Something had settled in Alexei’s chest like a stone and he whistled as he breathed, drawing in through bared teeth a sticky, thin stream of air that barely penetrated to his lungs. He had long ago lost consciousness and neither saw nor understood what was going on around him. Elena stood and looked. The professor took her by the arm and whispered:‘Go now, Elena Vasilievna, we’ll do all there is to do.’Elena obeyed and went out. But the professor did not do anything more. (p. 275)This moment, to me, was perfect. Bulgakov has captured the essence of this type of situation. The only thing the professor could do for Alexei was to reassure Elena.Bulgakov brilliantly sketches even minor characters. Outside of House No. 13, a war is raging. Several family members are involved and, in this way, the reader is provided a view of the wider world and the characters that inhabit it. Perhaps my favorite is this troubling scene in which the janitor, drafted into service as coroner, is helping Nikolka, the younger brother, find Colonel Nais-Turs, Nikolka’s fallen comrade-in-arms.Moving carefully in order not to slip on the floor, Fyodor grasped Nais-Turs by the head and pulled hard. A flat-chested, broad-hipped woman was lying face down across Nai’s stomach. There was a cheap little comb in the hair at the back of her neck, glittering dully, like a fragment of glass. Without stopping what he was doing Fyodor deftly pulled it out, dropped it into the pocket of his apron and gripped NaiTurs under the armpits. As it was pulled out of the pile his head lolled back, his sharp, unshaven chin pointed upwards and one arm slipped from the janitor’s grasp. (p.271)Bulgakov keeps the plot taut and the reader engaged. This book requires little suspension of disbelief. The White Guard is realist, unlike the much more fanciful “The Master and Margarita.” Bulgakov does, however, add a touch of the supernatural. And while the book is political enough to have been suppressed by Stalin, the question of which of the three sides fighting the war is “right” is never really posed, much less answered. The interesting questions all pertain to the individual and, more, to a family trying to survive a civil war. The primary loyalties are personal which, in Ukraine as elsewhere, reflects reality. The book is ambivalent toward political loyalties and the revolutions borne of having putting those loyalties before the personal. The author, as surely as the characters, must have had little enthusiasm for revolutionary politics.In the end, perhaps the highest praise I can give is that it would be difficult to read “The White Guard” without becoming attached to the Turbin family. Perhaps, this, more than any overt politics, is why the novel was banned in the Stalinist Soviet Union.

  • Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
    2019-06-04 22:36

    I wasn't sure if Bulgakov's first novel, described as a historical novel about the fortunes of the city of Kiev in the year 1918, as the repercussions of the Russian revolution and the tail-end of the first world war play out, would be as good as his satirical masterpieces, The Master And Margarita and Black Snow. It certainly is. Bulgakov was a literary genius, that's the only conclusion I can draw. Not only does he maintain complete control over a narrative that segues constantly from the panoramic to the personal, he keeps finding memorable motifs and metaphors to bring his tale to life. There is an entire section where he describes people's expressions and states of minds in terms of clock-hand positions. It seems like a subjective, potentially opaque conceit, but Bulgakov makes it work brilliantly. A good deal of his tale is told through dreams - again something potentially confusing and tedious that he does incredibly well. His talent for invoking the truly fantastic was evident in The Master, as was his facility with conjuring the bad numinous. Here, in an early vision of heaven, he brings us face to face with an equally convincing vision of divinity, both comforting and chilling. There are numerous bravura scenes of crowds and action, and of the thoughts and experiences of a his focus characters. This novel is also amazingly well structured, casting out a bewildering array of narrative threads that are all woven together into a tight, immaculate narrative tapestry. The novel ends with a virtuoso display of oneiric head-hopping which culminates in a passage which shows where the true strength of this novel lies - not in its many technical merits and literary flourishes, amazing though they are - but in its strong sense of the pathos of human destiny.

  • Susan
    2019-05-26 00:26

    I've just finished The White Guard and I think it will stay with me for some time.I have the 2009 edition from Yale University Press which includes an introduction by the translator Marian Schwartz, as well as an introduction by Russian history professor Evgeny Dobrenko, who explains the historical and political context of the novel. I would encourage readers to seek out this edition, and to read the two introductions first.While The White Guard, Bulgakov's first novel, doesn't have the same surreal or supernatural elements as his later works, such as The Master and Margarita or Heart of a Dog, those qualities are presaged in the dream sequences and lyrical descriptions of the city of Kiev.This is a heart-breaking, profound and very Russian novel.

  • Bruno
    2019-06-05 03:34

    Bulgakov coniuga abilmente romanzo storico e saga familiare narrando le vicende dei tre fratelli Turbin, la cui vita viene stravolta dai sanguinosi eventi di cui fu protagonista la Kiev degli anni 1918-20. Sebbene l'elemento paranormale, che ha reso famoso Bulgakov ne Il Maestro e Margherita, faccia solo una breve comparsa, lo stile dell'autore è immediatamente riconoscibile. Meravigliosa e unica la parte in cui Bulgakov descrive gli stati d'animo di Elena, Nikolka, Anjuta e Lariosik esclusivamente attraverso le posizioni delle lancette di un orologio!

  • Leah
    2019-06-07 02:26

    “Blood is cheap on those red fields...”It is 1918, and Kiev in the Ukraine is at the swirling centre of the forces unleashed by war and revolution. The three Turbin siblings live in the house of their recently deceased mother in the city. They are White Russians, still loyal to the Russian Tsar, hoping against hope that he may have escaped the Bolsheviks and be living still. But there are other factions too – the German Army have installed a puppet leader, the Hetman Skoropadsky, and the Ukranian peasantry are on the march in a nationalist movement, under their leader Petlyura. This is the story of a few short days when the fate of the city seems up for grabs, and the lives of the Turbins, like so many in those turbulent times, are under constant threat.Great and terrible was the year of Our Lord 1918, of the Revolution the second. Its summer abundant with warmth and sun, its winter with snow, highest in its heaven stood two stars: the shepherds' star, eventide Venus; and Mars – quivering, red.I found the beginning of this book rather difficult because I had no idea who all the various factions and real-life characters were, nor what they were attempting to achieve. But I soon realised that in this I differed less from the fictional characters than I first thought. This is a book about confusion and betrayal, shifting allegiances, chaos and fear. Bulgakov takes a panoramic approach, following one character and then panning off to another. This gives it an episodic feel and adds to the sense of events moving too quickly for the people involved ever to fully grasp. The Turbins actually aren't in it a lot of the time, but they provide a thread for us to catch at in the maze, and a human side to the story for us to care about.One of the early episodes tells the story of the soldier Victor, a friend of the Turbins, who with 39 companions is ordered to defend the city from the approaching forces of Petlyura. Ill-equipped and insufficiently clothed for the extreme cold, two of the men die of frostbite and the rest are lucky to survive. They achieve nothing. While reading this, I was simultaneously reading the beginning of Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution, where he talks of the mass mobilisation of workers and peasants into the Russian army to fight against Germany in WW1. His description of the ill-trained, poorly-equipped troops dying needlessly in vast numbers is chillingly similar and I found that each book lent verisimilitude to the other.Although the Turbins are on the side of the Tsar, the book itself doesn't seem to take a political stance. If anything, it paints an equally despicable picture of all the various faction leaders, as cowards hiding behind the men they send carelessly to their deaths. As senior officers on all sides run into hiding, middle-ranking officers are left to decide whether to make a stand or disband their troops, many of them no more than young boys in cadet corps. It gives an only too credible feeling for the chaos in the city, for people not knowing what's happening, and for each new rumour spreading like wildfire. Amidst all this, we see odd glimpses of life continuing – boys out playing in the snow, workers making their way to their jobs, people shopping. Through the Turbin brothers, Nikolka and Alexei, we see the battle each man must individually face between fear and heroism, while Elena, their sister, must wait at home, praying for their safety.In the gaps between scenes of extreme brutality, Bulgakov lets us glimpse his love for the city. He describes the streets his characters pass through, the alleyways they use to escape, the ancient cathedral, the huge statue of Saint Vladimir on the hill above the city. But we are never allowed to forget the approaching threat...But the brightest light of all was the white cross held by the gigantic statue of St Vladimir atop Vladimir Hill. It could be seen from far, far away and often in summer, in thick black mist, amid the osier-beds and tortuous meanders of the age-old river, the boatmen would see it and by its light would steer their way to the City and its wharves. In winter the cross would glow through the dense black clouds, a frozen unmoving landmark towering above the gently sloping expanse of the eastern bank, whence two vast bridges were flung across the river. One, the ponderous Chain Bridge that led to the right-bank suburbs, the other high, slim and urgent as an arrow that carried the trains from where, far away, crouched another city, threatening and mysterious: Moscow.As the chaos worsens, so we see the atrocities that are never far from war – the criminals jumping on the lack of order to terrorise an already demoralised citizenry, the bodies left unidentified and unclaimed in the City's morgue, the wounded frightened to seek help for fear of capture. Not quite knowing who every faction was made it even more unsettling, though I wondered if Bulgakov's first readers would have known, and so might have read it differently. A truly brilliant book that, while concentrating on one small city, gives a brutal and terrifyingly believable picture of the horrors unleashed in the wake of bloody revolution. And here we are, one hundred years later, with Moscow again invading the Ukraine – this troubled and divided territory still fighting what is essentially the same war...The snow would just melt, the green Ukranian grass would grow again and weave its carpet over the earth... The gorgeous sunrises would come again... The air would shimmer with heat above the fields and no more traces of blood would remain. Blood is cheap on those red fields and no one would redeem it.No

  • GiannisKlados
    2019-05-31 01:10

    Ο Bulgakov είναι, πλέον, αγαπημένος μου συγγραφέας, τύχη μεγάλη να πέσουν στα χέρια κάποιου τα βιβλία του, αέρας ελευθερίας στην ψυχήΤο βιβλίο: Μια περιγραφή των θηριωδιών και της ανεξήγητης τρέλας του πολέμου που κανείς δεν μπόρεσε να προβλέψει. Η ιστορία της Ουκρανίας συμπυκνωμένη στην αιματηρή αναλαμπή των δεινών του 1918-19. Όλα δοσμένα μέσα από την πένα του πεζογράφου-ποιητή που κεντάει την ομίχλη του Δνείπερου άλλοτε με ρεαλισμό και άλλοτε με αλληγορική αυθεντία.Γιατί ξεχνάμε να στρέφουμε το βλέμμα στα άστρα;

  • ΑνναΦ
    2019-06-08 22:23

    Altro che romanzo minore, romanzo d'esordio bello ma che non eguaglia "Il Maestro e Margherita"! Io l'ho trovato un romanzo perfetto, nel perfetto stile unico di Bulgakov. Trattasi di un romanzo storico (le sorti della Rivoluzione russa vissute nell'estremo lembo dell' ex impero, Kiev, Ucraina), narrato in uno stile sempre cangiante, ora ironico, ora Gogolianamente onirico, spesso semplicemente realistico e tragico, come tragico fu il periodo che racconta e come è enunciato nel bellissimo e giustamente famoso incipit: Grande fu, e terribile, l'anno 1918 dopo la nascita di Cristo, il secondo dall'inizio della rivoluzione. Fu ricco di sole in estate, ricco di neve in inverno, e due stelle stettero particolarmente alte nel cielo: la vespertina Venere, stella dei pastori, e il rosso, fremente Marte. Ma come frecce, negli anni di pace e negli anni di sangue, volavano i giorni, e i giovani Turbin non si erano accorti che nell'intenso gelo già era giunto il bianco, arruffato dicembre.. I protagonisti sono i tre fratelli Turbin, Elena, Nikolka - un cadetto militare - e Alekseij, il maggiore, medico militare in cui non è difficile scorgere lo stesso Bulgakov. Allo scoppiare della Rivoluzione si trovano orfani (il romanzo si apre con il funerale della madre che, a me pare, simboleggi anche la fine della Madre Patria russa), alle prese con l'orrore pubblico e privato che ogni rivoluzione porta con sé: Elena viene abbandonata dal marito, un ufficiale Bianco, che fugge all'estero, al seguito dello Stato Maggiore, lasciandola al suo destino. Il fratello maggiore Alekseij si trova lontano, a combattere con i Bianchi. In quell'anno, il 1918, a Kiev si succedettero ben 14 o più prese di potere e capovolgimenti di regime, un in caos sanguinoso e in una girandola grottesca tra bianchi e bolscevichi, atamani e cosacchi, tedeschi e nazionalisti. Bulgakov visse questi eventi in prima persona, ne fa un resoconto preciso, cruento, descrivendo tanto i massacri di ex ufficiali bianchi che venivano cercati casa per casa dai bolscevichi, ammazzati a sciabolate per strada, come anche i pogrom contro gli ebrei messi in atto dai nazionalisti di Petljura. Il tono spesso ironico, onirico, sperimentale con tocchi di mistico, non tolgono nulla alla tragicità degli eventi. Stranamente il libro fu molto amato da Stalin, mi chiedo se ne abbia colto fino in fondo il senso, o forse lo colse e ci passò sopra, grazie alla fascinazione che Bulgalov, certo involontariamente, aveva sempre su di lui. Famosa la telefonata con cui lo tempestava spesso: «Ma davvero lei vuole andarsene all’estero? Le siamo venuti tanto a noia? Noi però dobbiamo vederci di persona, vorrei scambiare due parole a quattrocchi, le auguro per il momento ogni bene». P.S. Il genialmente sperimentale Bulgakov, non presta orecchio solo a Go'gol, ma omaggia anche la più pura tradizione narrativa russa. sì, sto parlando di Tolstoj, non solo viene espressamente citatao "Guerra e pace", ma un personaggio, l'ussaro Naj che muore tragicamente mentre fa fuggire tutti i suoi cadetti, ha le caratteristiche di un altro ussaro, di Tolstoj in Guerra e Pace, e anche l'erre moscia, come Denisov. Mi è sembrato bello questo piccolo cameo con cui un giovane - all'epoca - scrittore, ha reso omaggio a un grande scrittore russo del passato.

  • Becky
    2019-06-10 20:15

    After I finished reading the first time I went to the Introductions and read them. The one by the translator, Marian Schwartz, is very nice, informative - she did this in 2009. But the one by Evgeny Dobrenko is totally marvelous, thoughtful and informative, giving background information on Bulgakov as well as the Ukranaian War of Independence (Russian Civil War). In fact, I was so taken by Dobrenko’s introduction I went back and reread the entire work - very carefully - and was stunned. This time I followed all the action, family or not. I took notes (see the link). I googled for more specific info. I was mesmerized. The writing is beautiful, lush, sensual. Everything has meaning and I know that no matter how much I studied it in this day and age, 2010 - California - there is no way I could possibly understand the nature of all the symbolism, the dream sequences, the characters and their ideas. I understand how Stalin could let the play be staged and love it, but ban the book because in the play and the book the Petlyiura forces are made to look seriously bad but in the book it’s complex, in the play that part is simpler. Apparently Bulgakov had conflicting feelings about the Revolution - although I didn’t catch that - Dobrenko did. The narrative gives off a strong bit of nostalgia for the old Russian Kiev - that’s where Bulgakov was from and the book is semi-autobiographical. Kiev is the religious center of Russia - where Prince Vladimir accepted Christianity in 988. His statue and hill play a central roll in White Guard. But Bulgakov also wrote the book as a kind of commentary on the meaningless, violent, stupidity of war. Also important in the book are the themes time is moving on and running out (so many clocks) and that everybody is running away. There seem to be lots of ways of running away but the physical act is important here. Lampshades color, dim, hide the truth of the situation while religion seems to distance it.

  • Tony
    2019-06-04 00:32

    THE WHITE GUARD. (1923). Mikhail Bulgakov. ***.This was the author’s first novel, and became better known by means of a play based on the book. It is the story of the battles of the Russian Revolution as they occurred in around the city of Kiev. Little is known about the battles on the Eastern Front during WW I, and about as much about the Revolution in the Ukraine region. This novel focuses on the adventures of one family in Kiev, the Turbins, in the year 1918. What Bulgakov did was to tell his tale using a variety of characters – either from the Turbins or from other organizations, including various branches of the military from all sides – but having each character tell his piece from his own point of view. This takes a little while getting used to, as each new narrator simply just appears and begins to tell his piece. The only other work I’ve read by Bulgakov was “The Master and Margarita,” which was much more accessible. In this work, it took me about one-third of the way into the book before I began to catch on to what the author was doing. Once past that, it was only a matter of keeping all of the characters straight. Looking over other reviews after I had read the work, I found that there were many comments about this book being a masterpiece. If it was, I missed something. It is a good book, but I have my reservations about using the word masterpiece.

  • Pavel
    2019-06-11 19:08

    Ukraine. Kiev. Times of turnmoil (1918). Revolution. German troops are leaving Kiev to Petlura, controversial leader of Ukranian nationalists, the one who tries to gain his power through stirring a conflict between Russians and Ukrainians and Jews. Pogroms are on their way. Bolsheviks are going in just in a few weeks. Big family of Turbins, Russian intelligent people and their friends. Whole world of their is collapsing right in front our eyes. Bulgakov is best-known for his "Master and Margarita", but I actually prefer "The white guard", it's a masterpiece of Russian realistic prose. He himself did not afraid to compare it to the "War and piece". Indeed it's a "War and piece" of Russian clerisy, their tragic fate and inadaptability and idealism. Bulgakov came from this environment, he was from Kiev himself, all the main characters: Alexey Turbin, Nikolenka, Lariosik, Mushlaevsky, Shervinsky, Talberg have their protopypes in Bulgakov's real life. And not only Ukranian turnmoil reflects with our times, but this difficult situation for intellectuals, when they are caught between own notions of events and the fear of political purges. Love and death and defeat of all hopes, everything is in there.Play based on this novel - "Days of Turbins" was a huge MXT success, Stalin saw it at least 15 times and didn't allow to ban it.

  • Rosemarie
    2019-06-12 23:15

    This book does an excellent job portraying the confusion and chaos in Kiev in December 1918. The White Guard defending the city are woefully outnumbered by those who are going to attack the city-- the Bolsheviks.The leaders of the Whites flee the city, leaving few instructions to those left behind, mostly Cadets. Many of the Cadets and officers are killed but some are able to flee.The Turbin family, two brothers and their sister, show how this confusion and disaster affected the people of Kiev on a more personal and emotional level.

  • Moon Rose
    2019-05-29 20:31

    The horrifying cadence of a revolution that swept Russia in the early part of the 20th century; which replaced the seat of the governing aristocracy with the austerity of the intense power of the collective plebeian regime that gave rise to an ideal that cried for justice and equality, breathing life to a series of senseless violence causing the untimely deaths of the many in its wake showed in full daylight the unobtrusive intention beneath the noble purpose, forfeiting its essence by its opposite virulent results, a clear manifestation of man's inconsistency, showing the immature state of his consciousness that still governs his soul as part of his ongoing path towards the evolution of the mind.Mikhail Bulgakov captures this violent and endearing past of Russia, its pivotal point in history that centers on its transition state, written with such poignancy as he vividly describes the sudden disintegration of the Russian society that existed for half a millennia, the demise of the Tsarist regime and the fall of the aristocracy in the hands of the revolutionary commoners as prophesied by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in Demons , which parallelism with Pyotr Verkhovensky seems evident in Bulgakov's unseen moving character of Petlyura in The White Guard, hovering like a dark cloud over a horizon that signals only an impending doom.The style of writing is different from his more famous novel, The Master and Margarita which is filled with profound comicality that hides the inner truths in the depth of his masterful utilization of magical realism. At first glance, it seems that the two novels are penned by two different authors, as The White Guard, on the other hand, there are only misty streaks of profundity emitting from it, as it gears towards descriptive realism, encapsulating a specific period in time, as it describes the physical aspects of circumstances rather than delving into its underlying meaning. It is written in an almost straight forward way, except during Bulgakov's bouts of lucid imagery in between and at the last part of the novel, displaying his keen grasp of the surreal through the symbolic dream sequences that foretell his genius as a writer. Furthermore, the novel in its entirety appears more like a stage play rather than a novel, as its deliberate compactness has this kind of effect in visualization to the reader.The White Guard is the story of the Turbin siblings, mainly Alexei, Elena and Nikolka living in Ukraine at that time during the critical period in the Russian revolution. The narrative is told from the different angles of their viewpoints, as their experiences intertwined into the hellish change that is about to take shape in Russia. It untangles their lives caught in the grim prospect of death, as they all struggle to survive amid the sea of uncertainty. The novel opens with a bleak metaphor, the gloom of death at hand, as the death of their adored mother appears as a symbolic gesture of their own fate or more aptly the fate of the whole of Russia, as they all become a living witness to the death of their own society that keeps them safe and intact, as it gives them a preview of the vicissitudes that would come out of it as a repercussion.In terms of character development, there are minor appearances of interesting personas that are just left hanging in mid air without further elaboration on the part of Bulgakov. They seem to appear like bubbles out of nowhere that burst immediately into thin air, which if their development has been taken into consideration, it could have made the novel more intense, keeping the audience riveted on its pages as it will allow them to go deeper into the depths of the situation, giving contrast to the humanitarian efforts of the Turbin siblings against the psychological implications a tragedy can cause to other people. For instance, the sudden appearance of the syphilis infected Ivan Rusakov by the middle of the novel, whose sexually transmitted disease made him remorseful, turning him away from his wicked past, as it turns him into a religious fanatic enclosed into the rigidity of an ascetic belief. His character is actually loosely detached from the lives of the main protagonists with the exception of a brief encounter with Alexei in the end, but in his character, which is only abruptly mentioned by Bulgakov lies the psychological depth that exists in all of humanity, especially those on the verge of transformation.Same goes with the other minor characters who flutter fleetingly within the novel, leaving their hidden implications to the imagination of the reader, like the inconsistent behavior of the depraved character of Mikhail Shpolyansky, or the bravery displayed by the tragic character of Colonel Nai-Turs, his own unquestionable heroism leading him to his own demise. These are just few of the several instances within The White Guard, surrounding the lives of the Turbin siblings and their friends, as they pop out disconnectedly from the whole, yet congenial to the rest of the novel. Perhaps, it is Bulgakov's own demonstration to imply the sheer uncertainty of that particular period in time. ☾

  • Eadweard
    2019-05-30 01:20

    As far as russian novels go, "The White Guard" is perfect, so why didn't I give it 5/5? I don't know. The characters are well written, the story is fascinating (for those interested in the subject), the prose and descriptions are great, everything is perfect. Perhaps I wanted a longer book and I'm taking it out on the rating? Okay, I'll give it a 4.5/5."Alexei, Elena, Talberg, Anyuta the maid who had grown up in the Turbins' house, and young Nikolka, stunned by the death, a lock of hair falling over his right eyebrow, stood at the foot of the ancient brown ikon of St Nicholas. Set deep on either side of his long bird-like nose, Nikolka's blue eyes had a wounded, defeated look. Occasionally he raised them towards the ikon screen, to the vaulted apse above the altar where that glum and enigmatic old man, God, towered above them and winked. Why had he inflicted such a wrong on them? Wasn't it unjust?"----"For the fact was that although life in the City went on with apparent normality – it had a police force, a civil service, even an army and newspapers with various names – not a single person in it knew what was going on around and about the City, in the real Ukraine, a country of tens of millions of people, bigger than France. They not only knew nothing about the distant parts of the country, but they were even, ridiculous though it seems, in utter ignorance of what was happening in the villages scattered about twenty or thirty miles away from the City itself. They neither knew nor cared about the real Ukraine and they hated it with all their heart and soul. And whenever there came vague rumors of events from that mysterious place called 'the country', rumors that the Germans were robbing the peasants, punishing them mercilessly and mowing them down by machine-gun fire, not only was not a single indignant voice raised in defense of the Ukrainian peasants but, under silken lampshades in drawing-rooms, they would bare their teeth in a wolfish grin and mutter:'Serve them right! And a bit more of that sort of treatment wouldn't do 'em any harm either. I'd give it 'em even harder. That'll teach them to have a revolution – didn't want their own masters, so now they can have a taste of another!'"----"Hundreds of heads in the choir-loft crowded one on another, jostling forward, hanging down over the balustrade between the ancient pillars adorned with smoke-blackened frescoes. Craning, excited, leaning forward, pushing, they surged towards the balustrade trying to look down into the well of the cathedral, but could see nothing for the hundreds of heads already there, like rows of yellow apples. Down in the abyss swayed a reeking, thousand-headed crowd, over which hovered an almost incandescent wave of sweat, steam, incense smoke, the lamp-black from hundreds of candles, and soot from heavy chain-hung ikon-lamps. The ponderous gray-blue drape creaked along on its rings and covered the doors of the altar screen, floridly wrought in centuries-old metal as dark and grim as the whole gloomy cathedral of St Sophia. Crackling faintly and swaying, the flaming tongues of candles in the chandeliers drifted upwards in threads of smoke. There was not enough air for them. Around the altar there was incredible confusion. From the doors of side-chapels, down the worn granite steps, poured streams of gold copes and fluttering stoles. Priestly headdresses, like short violet stovepipes, slid out of their cardboard boxes, religious banners were taken down, flapping, from the walls. Somewhere in the thick of the crowd boomed out the awesome bass of Archdeacon Seryebryakov. A headless, armless cope swayed above the crowd and was swallowed up again; then there rose up one sleeve of a quilted cassock, followed by the other as its wearer was enrobed in the cope. Check handkerchiefs fluttered and were twisted into plaits."

  • Mary
    2019-06-18 21:10

    Hell of an evocation of Ukrainian Civil War from the vantage point of a pro-monarchy Russian family and their friends in Kiev. Important, complex history in a master work of fiction. Bulgakov illustrates the confusion and tension far from revolutionary Petrograd and how Kievans sort through the chaos and interpret events they cannot even attempt to control. As pointed out by others, it is ironic that Bulgakov and his characters see themselves as honorable reactionaries hoping to reinstate a tsar. They support the mostly inadequate-to-malignant Romanovs yet the characters are strongly motivated by honor. They yearn to return to a government that has been, irl, very dishonorable and bad for pretty much the whole Russian Empire. Thankfully, this translation in includes the dream sequence. Marian Schwartz’s word choices seem wonderful. I would love to go back to Kiev and try to see it through Bulgakov’s eyes. When I was there in the early 1990s it seemed glorious but a bit sad and rundown, trashed by communism. Ukraine is in such a vulnerable geographic position with no relief in sight. Russia and Ukraine as allies and trading partners could move forward faster together than as conqueror and conquered. If only Russia could keep it’s paws to itself. I know it’s complicated and that Russians also live in Ukraine but they’d all be better off as allies. I've known people who live inside contemporary Ukrainian borders who identify as Ukrainian and those who identify as Russian. I have no preference. I just want neither to get screwed, but screwed they are. Maybe they need to build a Trumpian wall! (jk, naturally) I learned that Stalin loved the censored play version of this book, The Day of the Turbins, so much he saw it many times and protected Bulgakov from an unnatural demise. Fascinating!

  • Sera
    2019-05-26 03:37

    This book is my second time reading Bulgakov. Last year, I read The Master and Margarita, and I found it to be very enjoyable due to its autobiographical and satirical nature. However, White Guard is a very different book from M&M. The story takes place in 1918 Ukraine, after WWI, but where the Russian populace is knee deep in the revolution. The Turbin family represents the core set of characters in the book. They provide an interesting perspective, because they are middle class, non-laborers, and they support reinstatement (or retention) of the monarchy. Although I enjoyed the book, I still found it to be heavy on symbolism and not as much based upon deep thought or insight into the mindset of the pro-monarchist during that time. I think that I was looking for something similar to Grossman's Life and Fate, but I just couldn't really find it here, and the introduction set up the book so well, too. The central question that existed in 1918 was would the Russian people be better off under a new regime or should they try to work through their issues under the existing Tsarist one? History has taught us that with revolution comes sweeping change, but also there is a high likelihood that with that change, there will be some form or dictatorial or similarly oppressive rule. I was hoping to get some discourse on this point, but unfortunately, I found the book to be lacking in this regard.Overall, I enjoyed reading it, but I will have to look to other sources to bridge my knowledge gap here.

  • Jennifer Richardson
    2019-06-17 00:20

    This book is a page turner at it's finest- not because it is action packed and full of cheesy cliffhangers, but because Bulgakov's writing style so successfully recreates for the reader the torturous confusion these characters experienced in this bizarre time of war- and these characters and I want to figure out what the hell is happening! Why is everyone running in the other direction and ripping off their epaulets? Where is Turbin and why hasn't he made it home yet? And who the hell is this Petlyura fellow anyway?The narration of these events taking place in Kiev during Russian Civil War is given through many different perspectives. You will experience a battle with someone, confused and distraught over why things are happening this way. In the next chapter you will back peddle through the perspective of another character to see how the event played our from the start. This style of story-telling keeps in-tact the chaotic experience these people were dealing with while also allowing the reader to eventually assemble the big picture. Bulgakov makes the City come to life so thoroughly with vivid descriptions of objects and places that reach out to all of ones senses, always unique but through reappearing motifs. While the main story revolves around the members of the Ukrainian Turbin family, the essence of the story is much more far reaching and captures the seemingly endless turbulence of both the City and the nation.

  • Ivan
    2019-05-21 20:33

    A truthful and frightening recount of an ordinary pre-revolution family transformed by successive events in Ukrainian history.This isn't a horror story, and it doesn't have any gore, but the functioning and the breakdown of society; life of a family in such a society with its hopes and fears in absence of clear outcome is a fearsome sight to behold. This is especially true when we look back to contemplate the uneasy history of UkrSSR that followed and hundreds of thousands of people's lives destroyed in successive expropriation and forced industrialisation. I acknowledge that for a native anglophone the multitude of names can be confusing, and back in soviet times this book, while certainly banned could really be comprehended by select few, as most individuals have never known a productive life outside of the system, nor envisaged a possibility of its existence. I would recommend this book to those who have Russian ancestry (first wave emigration) and want to understand what pushed them to leave and how uneasy this decision was in a WWI Europe; it is also somewhat representative of my great-grand uncle family story.

  • dely
    2019-05-20 23:22

    Eh, non so proprio che valutazione dare a questo libro. Opto per le due stelline perché sono riuscita a finirlo e perché apprezzo lo genio di Bulgakov, ma non ho apprezzato la lettura di questo libro. La storia inizia subito e sin dalle prime pagine sembra tutto confuso e sconclusionato. La storia è ambientata a Kiev e si svolge tra il dicembre del 1918 e febbraio del 1919. È un momento storico particolare e di grande confusione perché l'etmano si sposta nelle regioni del Don, i tedeschi tolgono il loro appoggio e lasciano il paese dopo l'abdicazione di Guglielmo II, Petljura viene fatto uscire di prigione quindi può continuare la sua lotta sanguinaria per l'indipendenza dell'Ucraina, e nel frattempo si stavano avvicinando anche i bolscevichi. Il fatto è che queste cose non sono spiegate, ma il lettore viene scaraventato nella storia e nella confusione di quei mesi. Anche i protagonisti non riuscivano a seguire gli avvenimenti, arrivavano notizie contrastanti, lo Stato Maggiore dell'esercito sparisce da un giorno all'altro, nessuno sa cosa succederà poche parole, il lettore rivive la confusione di quel periodo. Bulgakov voleva sicuramente ricreare la confusione che regnava a Kiev e ci riesce molto bene; infatti ci ho capito poco o niente. Ci sono delle note e un'introduzione poco informativa, ma non sono sufficienti per chi, come me, non sa praticamente niente dell'Ucraina. Ci sono, inoltre, molti riferimenti a personaggi dell’epoca e chi non conosce alla perfezione la storia dell’Ucraina si perde questi riferimenti. Per non parlare delle ambientazioni: chi è già stato a Kiev sicuramente riesce ad immaginarsi la città; chi non ci è mai stato si perderà nella descrizione di strade, vicoli e colline. Bulgakov ha scritto questo libro in russo, ma ogni tanto aggiungeva una frase o delle parole in ucraino; leggendolo in traduzione si perdono anche queste chicche linguistiche.Grazie anche ad amazon per i suoi ebook pieni di refusi che non aiutato la scorrevolezza della lettura.

  • J.A.
    2019-05-28 00:11

    Mikhail Bulgakov is one of my favorite authors, and this book has been on my reading list for far too long. I’ve had a copy of it for years, albeit a copy in the original Russian. I’m somewhat ashamed of the fact that I’ve allowed my Russian skills to languish to the point that I had to purchase an English translation in order to finally read The White Guard, but a little shame should never stand in the way of a worthwhile read! This story was known more widely in its play form than as a book (Stalin was said to have seen the play 15 times), just as Bulgakov was known better as a playwright than as an author, due to the suppression of his fiction by Soviet censorship. Before he was known as a playwright in Moscow he was a doctor who served in the White Army and specialized in the treatment of venereal diseases in Kiev. Likewise the character Alexei Turbin is a doctor with the same specialty who is also involved in the White resistance. The White Guard is largely biographical, as the Turbin family occupies the same apartment where the Bulgakov family lived and Mikhail practiced. The seven Bulgakov siblings are reduced to three Turbins, Alexei, Elena, and Nikolka, and it is through their experiences that we see the Socialist siege of Kiev during the winter of 1918-1919. During the Civil War that followed the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 Kiev was occupied by the German army, the Whites or monarchists, the Socialists, and the Bolsheviks. The White Guard aptly and accurately depicts the upheaval and confusion that reigned in Kiev during this period. Bulgakov left Kiev and medicine for Moscow and literature in 1921. Through his departure from Kiev we are able to re-visit it nearly a century later in the pages of The White Guard. Art is the ultimate victory of resistance.

  • Dragan
    2019-05-27 03:20

    what a man can say but: Mischa, thank you.Read this for the first time some 25 years ago. Read it, understood it. Loved it, obviously. few years later i myself went through a similar experience of confusion and war.i read it now again, and i tell you: only now I FELT IT, is obviously a brilliant work: full to the brim with the smell of winter and cold, anguish, war, confusion (who is who and what will happen tomorrow), emotional to the bursting, hints of upcoming love, uncertainty....I love the way he portraits doctors: it smells of iodine, alcohol and old syringes (we don;t use them any more) ... you can tell he knows what he is writing about.One think though: i am not sure just how much an average anglo-saxon reader can relate to it. It is, in my humble opinion, very Slavic in its content, and I fell (unjustly maybe) that it is rather hermetic for other readers due to this. But, I am probably wrong, judging by the other commentators ...;-)last remark: i read it in a serbo-croatian translation from 1985, brilliant edition.

  • Laura
    2019-05-19 23:20

    First off, I have absolutely no knowledge about the background of this story which is the Russian Civil War between the White and Red. Evidently, it was a brief time immediately following WWI and before the Bolshevik Revolution. The main characters are a middle class doctor’s family in Kiev who join the White Guard to help defend their home.It was good, although I find the book description on the used marketplace where I bought it which said it was, "lovely" quite laughable. It’s your typical war horror novel with all of the bloody horrors and disturbing leaders so how "lovely" fits in there is beyond me. Calling The White Guard "lovely" would be like describing a hunting trip with Dick Cheney as "delightful and heart warming."

  • sslyb
    2019-06-14 02:28

    The winter of 1918-19, Kiev was occupied by army after army: the Whites, the Reds, the German Army and Ukrainian nationals. Chaotic times! Bulgakov tells the tale of the Turbin family and the city in small chunks, snatches of comments heard on the street. Dialogue isn't really attributed to anyone. There is very little narration, probably why this was more popular as a play than a novel. The style in which it's written gives the reader a strong sense of the chaos and unknowing that those living through must have felt.

  • usquequaque
    2019-05-29 03:18

    "Tutto passerà. Le sofferenze, i tormenti, il sangue, la fame e la pestilenza. La spada sparirà, ma le stelle resteranno anche quando le ombre dei nostri corpi e delle nostre opere non saranno più sulla terra. Non c'è uomo che non lo sappia. Perché dunque non vogliamo rivolgere lo sguardo alle stelle? Perché?"

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-26 19:31

    "Great and terrible was the year that followed the second revolution."A tough read because of the amounts of referencing for further information that was needed - didn't know enough about the times and the people involved before embarking. Of course, that is not the fault of the book, which was superbly written.

  • Giovanna
    2019-06-16 00:08

    Purtroppo Bulgakov continua a non essere "my cup of tea".

  • Moushine Zahr
    2019-06-07 20:23

    This novel falls in the category of history fiction, takes place in Ukraine in 1918 and follows the Turbins family. The author did an exceptional work in describing with accuracy and detail the conflict that occurred in 1918 in Ukraine, the military operations and the general state of confusion and uncertainty lived by the people. I don't know if the author lived the conflict live, but it sure feels like it. This novel could easily be considered a war novel and at times feels like reading a history textbook written in the format of a literature work. Although the novel is well written, the author focused sometimes his attention more on the events and facts and forgot to write more on the Turbins family. Besides a chapter in the beginning of the book describing briefly the lives of the Turbins family prior to the conflict, most of the chapter about them were on the current time of 1918. The early info on the family was not enough to get me interested or attracted by them. The author should have described in more detail their whole lives before the conflict going back and forth between the year 1918 year and before so that the readers can compare life in Ukraine before and during the conflict and realize how much change occurred to them and in their behaviors. However, the author described the Turbins family well to show that during conflict family and friends staying together , surviving together, and caring to each other are the best thing to do in life and for each other.This is a great book to read, but unfortunately the lack of character development on the Turbins made it less interesting.