Influence of N. Gogol’s and M. Saltykov-Shchedrin’s Satire on Michail Bulgakov’s Prose

Alexander Philippovich Petrenko, Svetlana Anatolyevna Petrenko, Irina Borisovna Fedotova


The article is concerned with the study of literary relationships between the satire of the famous 20th-century Russian writer M. Bulgakov and the works by the Russian classics of the 19th century – N.V. Gogol and M.Y. Saltykov-Shchedrin. The article describes Gogol’s and Saltykov-Shchedrin’s influence on Bulgakov’s satirical poetics, especially in the period of his development as a writer. Special attention is given to the device of grotesque and the motives of mechanicalness and lifelessness, forming the artistic worlds of the writers under study. The authors note that the technical progress and the rapid development of mechanized production in the 20th century, combined with the satirical motive of primitivism, characteristic of Russian literature, left an imprint on the nature of Bulgakov’s grotesque. The writers at issue are united by such common feature of the satirical poetics as turning to fantasy, hyperbole, ‘strange and queer things’. The article shows the way Bulgakov perceived and embodied the principles of Gogol’s and Shchedrin’s world perception through the comic mixing of absurd, ghostly and real. Bulgakov’s way of seeing the world is characterized as ‘delirious reality’. At the same time, Bulgakov, as well as his literary teachers in the sphere of satire, showed oddness and divergence as regularity, while the comicality of fantasy in his works finally turns into the drama of reality.


satire, laughter, grotesque, mysticism, fantasy, zoomorphic metaphors

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