Schizophrenia, as Predicted
[Shizofreniia, kak i bylo skazano]
wrecker--Ivan uses a characteristic politicized word of the Stalinist days. A wrecker was someone who worked against the regime from inside, sabotaging machinery or the planned economy in some way.
hack Sashka--The argument between Ivan Bezdomny and Ryukhin is based on the animosity between their prototypes, the poets Bezymensky and Mayakovsky. Mayakovsky called Bezymensky "a nothing. . . ersatz (carrot) coffee." (Sokolov, 517)
kulak--Another political term popular in the 30s. Kulaks were rich or successful peasants (as opposed to seredniaks--middle peasants and bedniaks--poor peasants) who were supposedly exploiting others. In the collectivization frenzy of the early 30s, many people were branded "kulaks" by envious neighbors because they were good farmers. When successful farmers were arrested, needless to say productivity declined, resulting in major famines. It is characteristic of this period that ones ideological soundness was judged by ones class background.
verses he concocted for the 1st (of May)--not, as Burgin and O'Connor have it, "New Years." Mayday, the International Holiday of Labor, was a major Soviet holiday.
"Soar" and "Unfurl"--Mayakovsky's "Jubilee" was written for the 1st of May, 1924.
the composer has the same name as Misha Berlioz--Ivan's world-view parodically reverses the expected hierarchy. Hector Berlioz (1803-69) composed "Scenes from Faust" and the oratorio "The Damnation of Faust."
shot by that white guard--Pushkin was in fact shot by the Frenchman Georges D'Anthès in a duel in 1837, and his immortality was assured well before then by his writing alone. "White Guard" is a term for forces loyal to the Tsar in the Civil War that followed the 1917 Revolution in Russia. Bulgakov himself came from a family in which most member supported the Whites. Ryukhin's anachronism is meant to show his ignorance.
Mayakovsky's poem contains the following lines which are parodied in this chapter, linking D'Anthès, class origins, and the Revolution:
Son of a bitch D'Anthès!