Black Snow

Black Snow by Mikhail Bulgakov was written between 1936 and 1937. The novel tells the story of a failed novelist, Sergei Maxudov, after being saved from a suicide attempt by a literary editor has his book suddenly accepted for stage adaptation by a prestigious theatre group in Moscow. Soviet politics, censorship and an environment filled with selfish egotistical people like the Director Ivan Vasilyevich at the helm of affairs ensure that Maxudov and his dreams are pushed into a quagmire.

Black Snow


The book was never published during his lifetime and was first published in Russian in 1969. This book is a personal, self – deprecatory and satirical account based on Bulgakov’s true experiences, in particular, the Moscow Arts Theatre. The book could never be completed as Bulgakov was in poor health at that time and wanted to dedicate the available time for his masterpiece, Master and Margarita. But that still doesn’t take away the charm in the book. When we are going through an unnecessary intense scrutiny of art, Black Snow comes as a refreshing experience.

The English translation by Roger Cockrell is enjoyable. This 2014 edition brought out by Bloomsbury has an interesting minimalistic cover image designed by Nathan Burton. The book is laden with a myriad of characters because Bulgakov did not want to miss out on any theatre personality of his time and shrewdly placed a fictional name with features that perfectly fit their real-life counterparts.

One of the characters, Romanus, cites an Italian proverb that forms the essence of this novel – ‘Se non è vero, è ben trovato’ meaning ‘Even if it’s not true, it makes a good story’.

Author: Kavir Nair

A bespectacled lad from the filter coffee preferring south Indian coastal city of Chennai. The Japanese coined a word just for me - Tsundoku, which means the act of buying a book and leaving it unread, often piled together with other unread books. Although I must add, having an unread library is the way I could truly honour the late Umberto Eco. When not watching movies in theaters or beach walking on Marina, you can find me at home reading a book or writing a journal or Netflixing. While I do all this as Ravi Kiran, my alter ego - Kavir Nair needs an exclusive space to write. Hence, he has chosen this abode.

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