Characters in Moscow

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It would have been a little odd if Bulgakov, at the beginning of The Master and Margarita had mentioned that "Any resemblance to any real characters is pure coincidence". Wouldn't it?

The characters described by Bulgakov are often parodies of real persons, like Yakov Rozental, the manager of the restaurant of the Herzen house in Moscow, who plays the same role in the novel, but there he is called Archibald Archibaldovich, the manager of the restaurant of the writers' house Griboedov. Or Baron Steiger, who was, in the '30's in Moscow, just the same stool pigeon as Baron Meigel in the novel, and always found "around foreigners" too.

Bulgakov also describes many literary characters who thwarted him in real life and of whom he enlarges their weaknesses in the novel. He makes a fool of MKHAT-director Vladimir Ivanovich Nyemirovich-Daltshenko as Bengalski in the Variety Theatre. And he presents Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky, who had written an ideologically correct poem for Pushkin, as the poet Alexander Riukhin who curses Pushkin and heaps reproches on him. And so there are many more examples.

And sometimes far less characters had to take the rap for it, like Bulgakov's own next door woman Annushka Goryasheva. Bulgakov didn't even change her name.

Sometimes the Moscow characters are not representing any real proto-types, but then they have names referring to situations in the Soviet Union which Bulgakov wanted to criticize, like Bogokhulsky, the blasphemer, or Likhodeev, the scoundrel. And sometimes their names hint to irritating characteristics which Bulgakov arrogates to the prototypes of his charac-ters. Examples are Mogarych, the man who betrayed the Master and took his basement and Bosoy, the "kicked upstairs" chairman of the tenants' association.

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