A Kyiv family is caught up in the Ukrainian War of Independence in this novel by the author of The Master and Margarita, drawing from his own life.
Reds, Whites, German troops, and Ukrainian nationalists battle for control of the city of Kyiv as the war becomes more tumultuous in Mikhail Bulgakov’s debut novel, The White Guard.
Drawing heavily from the author’s own experiences in Ukraine during the period of the Russian Civil War—he witnessed ten changes of government himself—The White Guard is told from alternating points of view and takes an unusual angle in the conflict between Russian Whites (with whom the Turbin family identify) and Ukrainian nationalists. It elegantly portrays the chaos of a civil war in which there is no good or evil, only loyalty to one’s friends, family, and convictions.
First appearing in partial form in a Soviet-era literary journal, the story was turned into a play under the title The Days of the Turbins—a long-running hit that Stalin himself attended twenty times—yet was not published widely until decades after Bulgakov’s death.