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The White Guard

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  5,298 ratings  ·  91 reviews
The White Guard is less famous than Mikhail Bulgakov's comic hit, The Master and Margarita, but it is a lovely book, though completely different in tone. It is set in Kiev during the Russian revolution and tells a story about the war's effect on a middle-class family (not workers).

The story was not politically correct and thereby contributed to Bulgakov's lifelong trouble...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published 2006 by Vintage Classics (first published 1926)
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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor DostoyevskyAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Best Russian Literature
49th out of 349 books — 1,385 voters
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr SolzhenitsynDoctor Zhivago by Boris PasternakWe by Yevgeny ZamyatinHeart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov
Best Russian (Soviet 1917-1991) Literature
14th out of 147 books — 146 voters

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Community Reviews

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A trip to Kiev cannot be complete without a little Bulgakov. A museum dedicated to the master lies just off of St. Andrew’s Descent, a cobblestone street passing from St. Sophia’s cathedral down to the Dneiper. The museum is contained in House No. 13 where, at one time, Mikhail Bulgakov and his family lived. While “The White Guard” is not as widely known as “The Master and Margarita” (which Salman Rushdie drew upon heavily for “Midnight’s Children”), it provides a better sense of Ukraine and, pa...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I wasn't sure if Bulgakov's first novel, described as a historical novel about the fortunes of the city of Kiev in the year 1918, as the repercussions of the Russian revolution and the tail-end of the first world war play out, would be as good as his satirical masterpieces, The Master And Margarita and Black Snow.

It certainly is.

Bulgakov was a literary genius, that's the only conclusion I can draw. Not only does he maintain complete control over a narrative that segues constantly from the pano...more
Ukraine. Kiev. Times of turnmoil (1918). Revolution. German troops are leaving Kiev to Petlura, controversial leader of Ukranian nationalists, the one who tries to gain his power through stirring a conflict between Russians and Ukrainians and Jews. Pogroms are on their way. Bolsheviks are going in just in a few weeks. Big family of Turbins, Russian intelligent people and their friends. Whole world of their is collapsing right in front our eyes.
Bulgakov is best-known for his "Master and Margarit...more
Nov 25, 2010 Becky rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the Russian Revolution, Kiev, Bulgakov
Recommended to Becky by: reading group
After I finished reading the first time I went to the Introductions and read them. The one by the translator, Marian Schwartz, is very nice, informative - she did this in 2009. But the one by Evgeny Dobrenko is totally marvelous, thoughtful and informative, giving background information on Bulgakov as well as the Ukranaian War of Independence (Russian Civil War). In fact, I was so taken by Dobrenko’s introduction I went back and reread the entire work - very carefully - and was stunned.

This tim...more
A truthful and frightening recount of an ordinary pre-revolution family transformed by successive events in Ukrainian history.
This isn't a horror story, and it doesn't have any gore, but the functioning and the breakdown of society; life of a family in such a society with its hopes and fears in absence of clear outcome is a fearsome sight to behold. This is especially true when we look back to contemplate the uneasy history of UkrSSR that followed and hundreds of thousands of people's lives dest...more
☽ Moon Rose ☯
The horrifying cadence of a revolution that swept Russia in the early part of the 20th century; which replaced the seat of the governing aristocracy with the austerity of the intense power of the collective plebeian regime that gave rise to an ideal that cried for justice and equality, breathing life to a series of senseless violence causing the untimely deaths of the many in its wake showed in full daylight the unobtrusive intention beneath the noble purpose, forfeiting its essence by its oppos...more
Mikhail Bulgakov is one of my favorite authors, and this book has been on my reading list for far too long. I’ve had a copy of it for years, albeit a copy in the original Russian. I’m somewhat ashamed of the fact that I’ve allowed my Russian skills to languish to the point that I had to purchase an English translation in order to finally read The White Guard, but a little shame should never stand in the way of a worthwhile read! This story was known more widely in its play form than as a book (S...more
This book is my second time reading Bulgakov. Last year, I read The Master and Margarita, and I found it to be very enjoyable due to its autobiographical and satirical nature. However, White Guard is a very different book from M&M. The story takes place in 1918 Ukraine, after WWI, but where the Russian populace is knee deep in the revolution. The Turbin family represents the core set of characters in the book. They provide an interesting perspective, because they are middle class, non-labore...more
Julia Boechat Machado
Stálin se impressionou tanto com essa história da guarda branca que foi vê-la no teatro mais de cinqüenta vezes – e essa é apenas uma das contradições que marcaram a vida de Bulgákov. Os personagens de Bulgakov são cativantes: Aleksei turbin, Elena, Myshlaevsky, Karas, Lariosik, Shpolyanski, Nai-Turs, Nikolka. Bulgakov consegue nos emocionar profundamente não só com os dramas inevitáveis, como a quase morte de um dos protagonistas, mas também com a perda do revólver de Nai-Turs, ou com a simples...more
The White Guard comprised some of the politico-military Russian forces who unsuccessfully fought the Bolsheviks after the October Revolution and later the Red Army in the Russian Civil War (1917–23).

In the Russian context, White connoted three designations:

1. political contra-distinction to the Reds, whose revolutionary Red Army supported the Bolsheviks and Communism;
2. historical reference to absolute monarchy, specifically united Russia’s first Tsar, Ivan III (1462–1505), styled “Albus Rex” (“...more
Viktor Malafey
На вікіпедії є шикарна стаття про цей роман, я ж тут опишу лише свої враження.

Коли читаєш цю книгу, то сам переносишся в події майже столітньої давності. Як же автор класно описав Київ, просто шик! І це в той час, коли там населення становило 700 тисяч населення, місто надзвичайно гарне, відчуваєш його красу всіма органами тіла.

Всі події відбуваються в дуже малий проміжок часу, але вони дуже насичені, героїв роману багато. Заплутатись легко. Але кожен персонаж унікальний, і таке враження, що то...more
what a man can say but: Mischa, thank you.

Read this for the first time some 25 years ago. Read it, understood it. Loved it, obviously.
few years later i myself went through a similar experience of confusion and war.
i read it now again, and i tell you: only now I FELT IT, thoroughly.

it is obviously a brilliant work: full to the brim with the smell of winter and cold, anguish, war, confusion (who is who and what will happen tomorrow), emotional to the bursting, hints of upcoming love, uncertainty....more
Jennifer Richardson
This book is a page turner at it's finest- not because it is action packed and full of cheesy cliffhangers, but because Bulgakov's writing style so successfully recreates for the reader the torturous confusion these characters experienced in this bizarre time of war- and these characters and I want to figure out what the hell is happening! Why is everyone running in the other direction and ripping off their epaulets? Where is Turbin and why hasn't he made it home yet? And who the hell is this Pe...more
The winter of 1918-19, Kiev was occupied by army after army: the Whites, the Reds, the German Army and Ukrainian nationals. Chaotic times! Bulgakov tells the tale of the Turbin family and the city in small chunks, snatches of comments heard on the street. Dialogue isn't really attributed to anyone. There is very little narration, probably why this was more popular as a play than a novel. The style in which it's written gives the reader a strong sense of the chaos and unknowing that those living...more
Biljana Skataric
......Jednostavno će okopiti snijeg, iznići će zelena ukrajinska trava, prekriće zemlju... pojaviće se raskošni izlasci sunca... zadrhtaće žega nad poljima i od krvi neće ostati ni traga. Jeftina krv na crvenim poljima, i niko je neće iskupljivati. Niko. ......

...... Nad Dnjeprom se sa grešne i okrvavljene i zasniježene zemlje dizao u crnu, mračnu visinu ponoćni krst Vladimira. Iz daljine je izgledalo kao da je poprečna prečka nestala - slila se sa vertikalnom i od toga se krst pretvorio u prije...more
K. Bird
I read the Master and Margarita back in college and was completely flummoxed. It may be a cultural/translation thing, or just Bulgakov's style, but the narrative comes across as a flighty, skip from person to person, stream-of-consciousness style rich in the personal details of people's mundane lives.

Same thing here. The story revolves around the siege of Kiev by Petylura and a middle class family that sadly helps the failing, German-allied side defense.

We get the POV of various members of the f...more
Kenneth P.

More than anything, I see this novel as a love letter to the city of Kiev. Frankly, it's easier for me to see it this way. From cover to cover Mr. Bulgakov takes pains to present us with the beauty and charm of his beloved city. In late 1917, early 1918 chaos reigned. During the coldest winter in memory, in the frigid snow, with blood-drenched ice, Kiev managed to be beautiful. Civil war would be an understatement. I read in Wiki that Mr. Bulgakov personally witnessed ten political coups in his...more
"Белая гвардия" Михаила Булгакова мне понравилась в достаточной мере.

Не могу сказать, что данное произведения очень уж прекрасное (стиль автора симпатичен, но всё таки Бугаков немножко кажется перегнул палку). Но благодаря множеству очень важных сцен, тем и вопросов им поднятых на общий суд, а также преподнесенного достаточного количества высоких нравственных ценностей, роман заслуживает того чтобы его прочесть.
Alexander Isayenko
Порой кажется, что написано не сто лет назад, а лишь в прошлом году.
Первая треть произведения может показаться несколько сумбурной с иногда встречающимися интересными просветами. Но когда привыкаешь к героям и проникаешься духом, царившим в Городе, когда понимаешь судьбы людей, попавших в жернова истории, Белая Гвардия прямо затягивает. Интересно чувствовать характеры персонажей, изменения настроения, понимать, что они ощущаеют.
у Булгакова занимательный стиль написания: вперемешку идут главы, пр...more
I loved this book mostly for the descriptions of Kyiv. I read this just before one my trips there so it was interesting to walk around the city and remember scenes from the book. It also gives an excellent historical account of life in Ukraine during the years just before the establishment of the Soviet Union.
Originally a play that, despite its sympathetic potrayal of a 'White' Kievan family during the Civil War following the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalin was fond of, (see the passage in The Life of Monsieur De Moliere), this is a lovely tale of the effect of the revolution on a middle class family.
Carey Combe
I was advised by a Russian professor not to worry too much about how was fighting for what and why and just enjoy the writing and characterisation. Best advice I got, as once I stopped worrying about not knowing enough about Ukrainian politics around 1918, I adored this book.
Guy Salvidge
Bulgakov's first novel and my last of his. I think I've now read all of his prose fiction. This is a good book, a historical account of the fall of Kiev in late 1918. Parts of this sag a fraction, but overall this is a splendid and necessary work.
Unlike Master and Margarita, this book is more realistic in tone, but still has that romantic feel that a lot of Russian novels seem to have. It explores the Russian Revolution in Kiev, Ukraine. I didn't know much about the revolution in the Ukraine, but this book captures the unease and unpredictability of the time of revolution while still showing the humanity of the individuals involved, in this case the citizens of Kiev. It reminded me of Doctor Zhivago although this has a different location...more
It took me a long while to get into ‘The White Guard’ and eventually I finished it on a train. I find trains to be the best venue for getting through a difficult book. I suppose I expected something more like The Master and Margarita, which I adored but probably enjoyed on quite a superficial level. ‘The White Guard’ lacks supernatural and surreal elements, whilst having the same density of allegory and reference as M&M (an abbreviation I find amusing because I am childish). The novel deals...more
One of the masterpieces of Russian Literature

Going to see the theatrical version of this novel by the Sydney Theatre Company early in July.
LOVED his "The Master and Margarita".
Not expecting anything similar, but am hoping for good writing.

A very vivid recreation of time and place
... 1918 and the city of Kiev facing an attack by a local Socialist warlord
but being betrayed by their protectors, both the German Army and
the White Russian Army.
Meanwhile the Red (Bolshevik) Army lies in wait.
All this th...more
re: Kiev: "In winter, as in no other city in the world, a calm fell over the streets and lanes and the upper City, over the hills and the lower City, which sprawled out at a bend in the frozen Dnieper, and all the mechanical noise retreated into the stone buildings, which softened and muffled its growl."

"All the City's energy amassed over the sunny and stormy summer spilled out in light...the City played, overflowed with light, lit up, and danced, flickering all through the night until morning,...more
This novel, written by the brilliant Bulgakov whose literary work was so stifled during the hellish and unbelievably destructive years that preceded the Second World War and the horrors of Stalinism in general (the use of which phrase is just about the most extreme example of understatement imaginable, given the sheer nastiness of what happened), is good but not an easy read for the native English speaker of today.

I read it in a translation, since I speak no Russian, by Michael Glenny. It is ver...more
Fin 1918, ? Kiev, en Ukraine. La premi?re guerre mondiale vient juste de s?achever. L?ensemble de la famille Tourbine, les deux fr?res, la s?ur et le beau-fr?re sont enfin r?unit chez eux, et n?aspirent qu?? une seule chose : vivre paisiblement. Mais, c?est sans compter sur la guerre civile qui gronde d?j? aux portes de la ville. Seuls les r?giments allemands encore pr?sents ? Kiev emp?chent les anachistes, les bolcheviks et leurs partisans d?entrer dans la ville. Cependant, l?Allemagne perd la...more
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aka Michail Boelgakov (Dutch)
aka Michail Bulgakov (Czech, Italian, Swedish)
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aka Michail Bulhakow (Polish)
aka Mihail Bulgakov (Finnish, Romanian, Turkish)
aka Mihhail Bulgakov (Estonian)
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The Master and Margarita Heart of a Dog A Country Doctor's Notebook The Fatal Eggs Morfine

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“Everything passes away-suffering,pain, blood, hunger,pestilence. The sword will pass away too, but the stars will remain when the shadows of our presence and our deeds have vanished from the Earth. There is no man who does not know that. Why, then, will we not turn our eyes toward the stars? Why?” 60 likes
“Tutto passa. Passano le sofferenze e i dolori, passano il sangue, la fame, la pestilenza. La spada sparirà, le stelle invece resteranno, e ci saranno, le stelle, anche quando dalla terra saranno scomparse le ombre persino dei nostri corpi e delle nostre opere. Non c'è uomo che non lo sappia. Ma perché allora non vogliamo rivolgere lo sguardo alle stelle? Perché?” 5 likes
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