Alexander Riukhin

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Role

The poet Alexander Riukhin is a member of MASSOLIT. He's one of the three persons in Griboedov who transported Ivan Bezdomny - who was swaddled like a doll, dissolved in tears, and who was spatting aiming precisely at Riukhin - to the hospital of doctor Stravinsky. He's the one who describes Ivan's symptoms to the doctor, but suddenly doubts whether Ivan is really crazy. Ivan doesn't like Riukhin. He says that «that giftless goof Sashka Riukhin is the first of the idiots». Riukhin breaths heavily, turns red, and thinks of just one thing, that he had warmed a serpent on his breast, that he had shown concern for a man who turned out to be a vicious enemy. And, above all, there is nothing to be done: there's no arguing with the mentally ill!

On his way back to Moscow the words of Ivan Bezdomny remain dwelling in Riukhin's head. And the trouble is not that they were insulting, but that there was truth in them. When he passes «a metal man, standing on a pedestal, his head inclined slightly, gazing at the boulevard with indifference» - it's the statue of the most famous Russian poet Pushkin - strange thoughts flood the head of the ailing poet. «There's an example of real luck...» Riukhin thinks raising his arm to the cast-iron man. «Whatever step he made in his life, it all turned to his benefit».

Background

Through the conversation with Pushkin's statue, Bulgakov makes clear who's the prototype for Riukhin. It's Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (1893-1930) who, in 1924, at the occasion of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Pushkin's birth, wrote the poem Jubilee in which, at night, he lifts up Pushkin from his plinth at Tverskaya bulvar and introduces him into his thoughts on a walk through the streets. This poem was quite resounding, as you can judge from the first verse:

«Александр Сергеевич, разрешите представиться. Маяковский.»
«Aleksandr Sergeevich, let me introduce myself. Mayakovsky.»

Click here to listen to Jubilee in Russian

Bulgakov and Mayakovsky often played billiards together. Mayakovsky was better and the games were regularly characterised by tormenting dialogues between both writers. But, irrespective of who won, they always said goodbye to each other in a friendly way. Bulgakov's second wife, Lyubov Evgenyeva Belozerskaya, thought that Mayakovsky was "closed as a rock". In 1928 Vladimir Mayakovsky would incite to ban Bulgakov's The Days of the Turbins and he would call him an enemy of the class.

The quarrel between Riukhin and Ivan Bezdomny in the novel is a parody of the always changing relation between Mayakovsky and another poet, Alexander Ilich Bezymensky (1898-1973). The pseudonym Bezymensky means nameless, which feeds the theory that Bezymensky could have been the real prototype of Ivan Bezdomny, the Homeless. At first, Mayakovsky was Bezymensky's idol, but the feeling was not reciprocated. Mayakovsky compared Bezymensky's work to «coffee made of carrots». With «carrots» he meant chicory. Chicory is often used as a substitute for coffee, so Mayakovsky considered Bezymensky as ersatz, not as a real literary man.



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