Chapter 17

The Day without Peace

[Bespokoinyi den']

The title in Russian, "Bespokoinyi den'," contains the root "pokoi"--peace, and means "day without peace."

Vasily Stepanovich Lastochkin

line as far as Kudrinsky square

Ace of Diamonds--Tuzbuben

Faland (Valand)

ten-ruble bill

three-ruble bill

label from a bottle of Narzan

Entertainment Commission

there's nothing in the jacket

Prokhor Petrovich


a cat big as a behemoth

the devil take me--you want the devil to take you?

Branch office of the Entertainment Commission

Glorious Baikal

dose of valerian


Foreign currency

line as far as Kudrinsky square--a long line indeed, about one kilometer! (see map)

Ace of Diamonds--Tuzbuben--the name is analogous to that of a famous prerevolutionary police dog, Tref (Clubs).

Faland (Valand)--this is actually the German form of Woland's name that appears in Faust.

Entertainment Commission --presumably this is GOMEC, the State Union of Music-Hall, Concert, and Circus Enterprises, which was located in the building of the Old Circus, Tsvetnoi bul. 13 (Miagkov 150)

there's nothing in the jacket--Bulgakov wrote these scenes about the same time Il'f and Petrov were writing The Golden Calf, which has a similar scene with an empty suit. The source for both may be "Organchik" from Saltykov-Shchedrin's Istoriia odnogo goroda.

"Prosha"--Anna Richardovna's use of the familiar form "Prosha" in addressing him is not appropriate in the work environment.

a cat big as a behemoth--Bulgakov shows how Behemoth got his name here. Hippopotamus in Russian is "Begemot." Since Behemoth is huge, it becomes his name.

the devil take me--you want the devil to take you?--Here Bulgakov bares the device he has been using throughout the novel, showing that calling on the devil brings on his actions.

Lermontov--Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov (1814-41), Romantic poet, prose-writer, and dramatist.

Foreign currency--Canadian dollars, English pounds, Dutch guilders, Latvian lats, Estonian crowns. Between the wars the Baltic states were independent and had their own currencies.