English > Locations > Locations from the novel > Dramlit


In chapter 21 Margarita flies from Maly Vlasevsky pereulok via Arbat and the Vakhtangov Theatre to the Dramlit house or the House for Dramaturgists and Literators in Bolshoi Nikolopeskovsky pereulok near Arbat. I found the Театральный институт имени Бориса Щукина [Teatralny institut imeni Borisa Shchukina] or the Theater school Boris Shchukin in this street, but no Dramlit house.

In the novel the critic Latunsky, who had ruined the master, lives in a house for elite writers, which in Pevear's and Volokhonsky's English translation is described as «a magnificent eight-storeyed, obviously just-constructed building». The  facade of  the building was  covered in black marble. Margarita started her pogrom in apartment 84 - «Latunsky eighty-four... Latunsky eighty-four...», she repeated in some sort of rapture while she was going impetuously up the stairs.


But there was no such building in Nikolopeskovsky pereulok. Bulgakov had simply projected another building, finished in 1935, to this spot. This other building is situated on the other side of the Moscow River in Lavrushinsky pereulok 17, close to the Tretyakov Gallery. The apartment  84 of that building was indeed on the seventh floor and is similar to the description in the novel, and the other appartements as well.

In apartment 84 of this builing lived, in reality, Osaf Semeznovich Litovsky (1892-1971), who was the head of the Главный репертуарный комитет (Главрепертком) [Glavny repertuarny komitet] (Glavrepertkom) or the Central Committee for Repertoires from 1930 to 1937. Litovsky introduced the term Bulgakovshchina or Bulgakovism after the first performances of The days of the Turbins. A description which very closely matches the personality of Latunsky.

Seven storeys? Or eight? Bulgakov's text mentions: восьмиэтажного [vosmietazhnogo] or eight storeys. The English translators just translated this as an «eight-storeyed, obviously just-constructed building» (Pevear en Volokhonsky) or «an obviously  newly-built eight-storey block of flats» (Glenny). In the Dutch translation however we read «seven storeys». This confusion is due to the fact that in Russia the ground floor is considered as the «first floor». The building has thus eight floors: seven storeys and the ground floor, as you can see on the picture.

In Bolshoi Nikolopeskovsky pereulok, the street to which Bulgakov projected the dramlit house, is the house where lived the composer Alexander Nikolayevich Skruyabin (1872-1915) from 1912 to 1915 and which was often visited by Bulgakov and Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (1890-1960).

No place for Bulgakov

The reason why Bulgakov pointed exactly to this building at Lavrushinsky pereulok 17 becomes clear when you know that it was meant for elite writers, and it was finished not so long after Bulgakov was given an apartment in the much less prestigious Первый писательский жилищный кооператив [Pervy pisatelsky zhilishchni kooperativ] or the First housing cooperatieve for writers in the Furmanov street 3/5 (now Nashchokinsky pereluok). As a writer «of questionable ideological bent», Bulgakov did not deserve the best housing. From February 1934 until his death in 1940 Bulgakov lived there with his third wife Elena Sergeevna.

Metro: Третьяковская (Tretyakovskaya)

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