Chapter 5

The Incident at Griboyedov

[Bylo delo v Griboedove]

Boulevard Ring

Where is Griboyedov?


Alexander Sergeyevich Griboyedov

MASSOLIT members, with which the walls were hung--Bulgakov puns with the word order here, then specifies in parentheses that it was the photographs, not the MASSOLIT members that were hanging on the walls.

Perelygino on the Kliazma

Yalta, Suuk-Su --The list of vacation areas includes real and fantastic locations in the Crimea and apparently the Caucasus. Leningrad seems not to fit so well.

what a restaurant!--Until the last days of the Soviet Union, restaurants belonging to the Writers' Union, the Journalists' Union, the Union of Cinematographers, and the Actors' Union were among the best and cheapest in Moscow, but to get in, one needed an ID from these organizations to get in.


Coliseum--the name of the restaurant returns us to the world of ancient Rome.

upstairs, twelve writers--This scene clearly recalls Christ's Last Supper.


on three zinc tables lay what had until recently been Mikhail Alexandrovich--Bulgakov adopts the Tolstoyan device of ostranenie (bestrangement or "making it strange) to describe Berlioz as a thing rather than a living human being.


Glukharev began dancing--Rather than parodying specific writers, Bulgakov employs Gogol's device of significant and funny-sounding names in this passage: Glukhar'--wood grouse, polumesiats--half-moon, dragun--dragoon, cherdak--attic, pavian--baboon, bogokhul'skii--blasphemer, sladkii--sweet, spichki--matches.

The writer Ioann of Kronshtadt--There was a famous archpriest Ioann of Kronshtadt (1829-1908) who was said to be a miracle worker. There may also be a parodic hint of Vishnevskii's (Lavrovich's) 1933 screenplay "We are from Kronshtadt."

zubrik--Zubrovka is vodka flavored with buffalo grass, usually made in Poland.

fellow with a dagger-shaped beard

O gods, my gods, give me poison, poison--The narrator here echoes lines first spoken by Pilate, who quotes from Aida.

He has been killed, but we are alive!--Bulgakov again reminds us of Tolstoy. Characters in his short novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich have a similar reaction.

barefoot, scratch on his right cheek--Ivan here reminds us of the tormented Yeshua we saw in Chapter 2.

It began with W, Wagner?--Another Faustian reference. Wagner is a character in Goethe's Faust.

Ivan carried out of Griboyedov