Mikhail Bulgakov

Mikhail Bulgakov

Mikhail Bulgakov2Writer, Fiction, Drama
(1891 – 1940)

Considered one of the foremost satirists of postrevolutionary Russia, Mikhail Bulgakov is best known for his novel The Master and Margarita (1966), which is recognized as one of the greatest Russian novels of the century. Many of Bulgakov’s works concern the adjustment of the Russian intellectual class to life under Communist rule. Due to official censorship of his manuscripts during his lifetime, Bulgakov’s best works remained unpublished until after his death.

Bulgakov was born on May 2, 1891, in Kiev to a middle-class intellectual family. Music, literature, and theater were important in the family life of the young Bulgakov, as was religion. His father, a professor at the Kiev theological academy, instilled in his son a belief in God and an interest in spiritual matters that he would retain throughout his life.

Bulgakov attended Kiev’s most prestigious secondary school, then continued his education as a medical student at the University of Kiev and graduated with distinction in 1916. At the time, Russia was undergoing immense change. The country was embroiled in World War I while the last Russian czar, Nicholas II, was facing opposition to his rule through rebellions in 1905 and 1917 that ultimately led to his loss of power. Assigned to noncombat duty in the Russian army during World War I, Bulgakov worked for several months in frontline military hospitals until he transferred to a remote village, where he served as the only doctor for an entire district. His trials as an inexperienced doctor working under primitive conditions, and the difficulties he faced as an educated man among the ignorant, superstitious peasants, are recorded in the autobiographical stories of A Country Doctor’s Notebooks.

Wrote Amidst Turmoil

Upon his discharge in 1918, Bulgakov returned to Kiev in time to witness the Bolshevik Red Army, the anti-Bolshevik White Army, German occupation forces, and Ukrainian nationalists struggle for control of the city, which experienced fourteen violent changes of government in two years. While Kiev was part of several Ukrainian states that were shortlived, the city became part of the Soviet Union in 1921. By the time Nicholas II and his family were executed in 1918 by Communist Party representatives, Vladimir Lenin, a Bolshevik party leader, had assumed power and Communist-controlled Russia had become the Soviet Union. In 1919, Bulgakov published his first story, and the following year he abandoned medicine to devote his time to writing feuilletons (light, popular works of fiction) for local newspapers and plays for local theaters in the Caucasian city of Vladikavkaz. In 1921, he moved to Moscow, where he struggled to support himself and his first wife by editing and writing for various newspapers, a task that he described as ‘‘a flow of hopeless grey boredom, unbroken and inexorable.’’ With the partial publication in 1925 of the novel The White Guard in the magazine Rossiya, Bulgakov gained sufficient respect and popularity as an author to abandon newspaper work.

Political Controversy

Mikhail BulgakovThe realistic novel The White Guard (1924) was Bulgakov’s first major triumph and is notable as one of the few works published in the Soviet Union that sympathetically portray the supporters of the anti-Bolshevik cause during the Russian revolutions. This outstanding novel was never reprinted in Russia, but Bulgakov’s dramatic adaptation of it, The Days of the Turbins (1926), became a fixture on the Soviet stage. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who took power in the late 1920s after the death of Lenin, attended the production fifteen times, viewing the play as ultimately favorable to the Bolsheviks. From 1925 to 1928, Bulgakov worked in close association with the Moscow Art Theater as a writer, producer, and occasionally an actor. His plays were all well received by audiences but denounced by party critics. In 1929, Bulgakov’s works were banned for their ideological nonconformity.

For the next two years, Bulgakov was unable to earn a living, and in 1930, frustrated, depressed, and penniless, he wrote to the Soviet government asking to be allowed either to work or to emigrate. Stalin personally telephoned Bulgakov three weeks later and arranged for his appointment to the Art Theater as a producer. By this time, Stalin’s repressive policies led to his iron-fisted control of all aspects of society, including severe policies in the arts. Yet, in 1932, reportedly at Stalin’s request once again, Days of the Turbins was returned to the stage, making it possible for Bulgakov to have other works published and performed. He remained with the Art Theater until 1936, when he resigned in protest over what he saw as the mishandling of his drama A Cabal of Hypocrites, at which time he became a librettist for the Bolshoi Theater. Though publishing little, Bulgakov wrote steadily despite suffering from poor health and becoming blind the year before his death from nephrosclerosis in 1940.

Posthumous Fame

It was not until the 1960s that Bulgakov was fully rehabilitated by the Soviet authorities. At that time the manuscripts of numerous stories and plays and of three novels were discovered and published. These works established him as one of the finest twentieth- century Russian writers. The first of the novels to appear was Black Snow, written in the late 1930s and a satire on the Soviet theatrical world. The second, The Heart of a Dog (written in 1925), is a science fantasy in which human organs are transplanted into a dog, giving it the most disgusting qualities of mankind. Bulgakov’s acknowledged masterwork, The Master and Margarita, developed over a period of twelve years through the drafting of eight separate versions. According to biographers, Bulgakov knew that the novel would be his masterpiece and set aside all other projects during the last years of his illness to finish it before his death. Read the rest of this entry

Orlando di Lasso

Orlando di Lasso

(1530 – 1594)

The Flemish composer Orlando di Lasso was born in Mons in what is today modern Belgium, where he received his early musical training and served as a choirboy. Lasso’s beautiful voice resulted in him being kidnapped on three occasions by wealthy families desiring his services; after the third incident, his parents finally relented and allowed him to stay in the household of the viceroy of Sicily. As part of the viceroy’s household he traveled to Palermo, and over the next ten years, he also spent time in Milan, Rome, and Naples.

His years in Italy were critical for his later development as a composer, and while there, he adopted the Italian name that he continued to use for the rest of his life. Following the death of his parents in 1554, he took a position in Antwerp, but several years later became a chorister in the chapel of Albert V, duke of Bavaria. He remained in the duke’s household at Munich for the rest of his life. Although Munich was a small and rather provincial capital at the time, Bavaria was a large and important state, a center of the Counter-Reformation in Northern Europe.

In his Munich years, Lasso published a number of his compositions, and he became, in fact, the first composer in European history to establish his reputation primarily on the basis of his printed work. In the last forty years of his life Lasso printed more than 600 works, and usually a new composition appeared in the press about once each month. He favored musical printing houses in France, Italy, and the Netherlands, as well as those in Germany.


Lasso wrote more than 1,000 works and he was a master of most of the musical forms of the period. He produced a number of excellent compositions in all genres except instrumental music. His Latin motets form his largest group of compositions, totaling more than 500. He also composed almost sixty masses and about 100 magnificats.

Read the rest of this entry

Popular spa treatments

Popular spa treatments

Going to the spa one of the best ways to relieve stress and tension. However, with so many amazing spa treatments it may be difficult to decide which ones to get, particularly if it’s your first visit to the spa. Here’re a list popular spa treatments that are a must for every spa news goer.



Facials are one of the most popular spa treatments worldwide. Not only can the right facial make your face feel amazingly soft, but they can also diminish the lookof fine lines and wrinkles, restore a youthful glow to your complexion and even treat common skin problems like acne. And with so many different kinds of vehicles will be sure to find the one that’s right for your skin type and tone.

Pedicures – Manicures – Massages

Whether you opt for the traditional Swedish massage or require a comprehensive deep tissue treatment getting a massage one of the best things you can do for your body. Only do massages relieve stress and tension from your muscles and Joints they also improve your circulation which can improve and expedite healing. It is because of this that getting regular massages is recommended for those with chronic pain such as sciatica.

Mud baths – Microdermabrasion – Body wraps

Body wraps can dramatically soften your skin while removing impurities from your body. In addition, you can find body wraps that are specially formulated to diminish the signs of aging or treat common skin problem like eczema.

Face and body scrub – Acupressure – Reflexology

Reflexology is the act of applying pressure to specific points and areas on your hands and feet. It is believed that each point represents an internal organ and by stimulating this area of your foot or hand that you’re improving that organ’s health. Reflexology is highly effective when it comes to relieving stress and chronic pain.

Now that you know about some of the most popular spa treatments be sure to take advantage of these amazing procedures the next time you're at the spa. And to find a fantastic spa near you, be sure to visit Groupon Pages.

Michel de Montaigne

Michel de Montaigne

Michel de MontaigneEssayist
(1533 – 1592)

Born in Bordeaux in southern France, Michel de Montaigne’s father oversaw his early education by hiring tutors to teach the child Latin at an early age. Allowed only to speak this language until the age of six, Montaigne then entered the Collège de Guyenne, a secondary school in Bordeaux and a center of the humanist movement in France. He stayed there until he was 16, at which point he moved on to attend the University of Toulouse, another center of French humanism and a place of fervent religious debate at the time.

Religious wars

Like other humanisticallyeducated sons of prosperous fathers, Montaigne soon made a political career. In 1554 he took a legal post at Perigeaux and a few years later he became a member of the parlement (a local court of appeals) at Bordeaux. While a member of the parlement Montaigne traveled to Paris and took part in several important missions for the king. On one of these to Rouen he witnessed the consequences of the Wars of Religion, the great civil war that afflicted France at the time. In Rouen he also saw Brazilian natives recently brought to Europe, a subject that he later exploited in his famous essay Of Cannibals. In 1565 he married a wealthy heiress, and the large fortune that she brought to their marriage made Montaigne a rich man. He had six children with his wife, but only one survived infancy. In his writings he only rarely mentions his family.

His closest personal attachments seem to have been with other leading humanists and scholars. Among these, his closest friend was Étienne de la Boétie, a French humanist with whom Montaigne worked in the parlement at Bourdeaux. Boétie’s premature death in 1563 had a lasting impact on Montaigne, and in later life, he composed his famous essay “Of Friendship” in memory of him. Another of Montaigne’s friends was the female scholar Marie de Gournay, whom Montaigne considered like an adopted daughter. Gournay edited one version of the Essays. By 1570, Montaigne had grown increasingly disillusioned with public life and he resigned his duties. A year later he took up residence at a country estate where he shut himself off for a great part of each day in a tower of the chateau to devote himself to reading, study, writing, and contemplation. Except for only brief interruptions, Montaigne remained there for the rest of his life, producing the Essays for which he became justifiably famous. Read the rest of this entry

Shopping for Hermits

Shopping for Hermits

Most artists appreciate their alone time. But most artists also do make use of worldly material goods, like clothing for instance. That is a bit of a conundrum for an artist who would much rather be left alone than have to go out into the big wide world to deal with people. No one is saying that you suffer from agoraphobia, but you probably prefer to limit your interactions with other folks when it comes to trivial matters. Well, thank goodness for the Internet. Thanks to great stores like AliExpress, you can find pretty much anything you are looking for on the Internet.


Whether you are looking for maternity wear, general women’s clothing, men’s clothing, children’s clothing, or even baby clothing, AliExpress has what you need. Not just interested in clothes? AliExpress also carries computer and office supplies, consumer electronics, jewelry and watches, home and garden supplies, bags, shoes, toys and other children’s necessities, sports and outdoors equipment, health and beauty care products, automobile and motorcycle-related supplies, as well as home improvement tools and supplies. Pretty much anything you could need is located under one roof at AliExpress.

So yes, even though you are an artist you still may use material items that the rest of the world takes for granted. Your philosophizing needn’t get in the way of your material needs, either. Simply sign up for a fantastic site like AliExpress and you will be able to order whatever it is that you need, from watches to eyeliner, from the comfort of your home studio.

You may be wondering, since most artists are starving artists, if this habit of not getting outside to root out the best deals is going to impact your budget negatively. The truth is that it may, but probably not. On sites like AliExpress, you can secure 20% off all products, and even 94% off AliExpress’ most popular products. To win deals like these, go to AliExpress’ partnership with Groupon and you’ll find incredible discounts and coupons all the time. Just keep checking back for new savings opportunities and take advantage of as many Groupon coupons as you can.