Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799-1837)
Pushkin appears in The Master and Margarita in various guises: as the author of Eugene Onegin, the strains of which accompany Ivan on his chase; as the statue Ryukhin sees when he returns to Moscow from Stravinsky's clinic; as the author of The Covetous Knight, which Nikanor Ivanovich sees performed by Kurolesov in his "dream;" and finally as a character often referred to by Soviets in daily life.
Bulgakov, like all Russians, loved Pushkin, but he felt particularly close to the 19th Century poet because of the latter's relation to the state. Pushkin was several times exiled because his views got him into hot water with the authorities. Tsar Nicholas I became his "personal censor." While working on Master and Margarita, Bulgakov wrote a play called "Alexander Pushkin" or "The Last Days," which also treats the relationship between the artist of genius and the repressive state (not unlike The Master and Margarita and the play "Cabal of Hypocrites," also known as "Moliere.").
In "The Last Days," while Pushkin is the central character, he never actually appears onstage. Instead we see how everyone around the great artist works. The Tsar's police, in league with Pushkin's enemies, orchestrate his death by failing to stop the duel with D'Anthes. They then manage to hush up his funeral so he cannot create more political unrest even in death.
Written in 1934-35, the play was neither published nor performed in Bulgakov's lifetime. Planned for the 1937 Jubilee, it was accepted by Glavrepertkom (the theater repertoire organization). Pushkin had become such a national hero that the authorities failed to see the threat in Bulgakov's depiction the Tsarist police state. But when "Cabal of Hypocrites" was banned in 1936, theaters were afraid to put on any play by Bulgakov. It was first produced in 1943 and published in 1955, after Stalin's death.
Pushkin also belongs to the less explicit time of the novel, the Romantic age of Goethe and Schubert.
For more on Pushkin see Stephany Gould's Pushkin Page