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The White Guard

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,305 Ratings  ·  137 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
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published 2006 by Vintage Classics (first published 1926)
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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Best Russian Literature
51st out of 387 books — 1,620 voters
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovDoctor Zhivago by Boris PasternakOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr SolzhenitsynWe by Yevgeny ZamyatinHeart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov
Best Russian (Soviet 1917-1991) Literature
11th out of 161 books — 185 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ilenia Zodiaco
"Tutto passerà. Le sofferenze, i tormenti, il sangue, la fame e la pestilenza. La spada sparirà, ma le stelle resteranno anche quando le ombre dei nostri corpi e delle nostre opere non saranno più sulla terra. Non c'è uomo che non lo sappia. Perché dunque non vogliamo rivolgere lo sguardo alle stelle? Perché?"

Fino alle due e mezza di stanotte, angosciatissima per Aleksej Vasil'evič Turbin, sconvolto dal tifo. Rimanere indifferenti a questo romanzo è impossibile. La famiglia Turbin, la Città (Kie
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Kerry
Jan 20, 2009 Kerry rated it really liked it
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
Aug 04, 2010 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy rated it it was amazing
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
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Janet
Jan 05, 2015 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
Bulgakov's elegant first novel about the unfolding of the October revolution in Kiev--referred to as The City in the novel--has been rereleased by the wonderful independent publisher Melville House this year, in the Michael Glenny translation. Outstanding.Told through multiple points of view, the book centers upon two days in the Russian Civil war, December 13 and 14, 1918, when the city of Kiev, up to then controlled by the Ukrainian Hetman Skoropadsky, a German puppet and ally of the Monarchis ...more
Bruno
Jan 25, 2015 Bruno rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bulgakov coniuga abilmente romanzo storico e saga familiare narrando le vicende dei tre fratelli Turbin, la cui vita viene stravolta dai sanguinosi eventi di cui fu protagonista la Kiev degli anni 1918-20.

Sebbene l'elemento paranormale, che ha reso famoso Bulgakov ne Il Maestro e Margherita, faccia solo una breve comparsa, lo stile dell'autore è immediatamente riconoscibile.
Meravigliosa e unica la parte in cui Bulgakov descrive gli stati d'animo di Elena, Nikolka, Anjuta e Lariosik esclusivame
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Laura
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
1/2: Kiev is protected by an uneasy alliance. Two brothers discover it's a bad time to be Tsarist. Stars Paul Hilton and James Loye.

2/2: The Turbin brothers find their survival skills tested, and Elena is driven to intense prayer.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00761h8
ΑνναΦ
Altro che romanzo minore, romanzo d'esordio bello ma che non eguaglia "Il Maestro e Margherita"! Io l'ho trovato un romanzo perfetto, nel perfetto stile unico di Bulgakov. Trattasi di un romanzo storico (le sorti della Rivoluzione russa vissute nell'estremo lembo dell' ex impero, Kiev, Ucraina), narrato in uno stile sempre cangiante, ora ironico, ora Gogolianamente onirico, spesso semplicemente realistico e tragico, come tragico fu il periodo che racconta e come è enunciato nel bellissimo e gius ...more
Becky
Nov 25, 2010 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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Susan
Nov 02, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Russophiles, lovers of literary classics
Shelves: russia, novels, bulgakov

I've just finished The White Guard and I think it will stay with me for some time.

I have the 2009 edition which includes an introduction by the translator Marian Schwartz, as well as an introduction by Russian history professor Evgeny Dobrenko, who explains the historical and political context of the novel. I would encourage readers to seek out this edition, and to read the two introductions first.

While The White Guard, Bulgakov's first novel, doesn't have the same surreal or supernatural elemen

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Eadweard
Oct 01, 2015 Eadweard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian
As far as russian novels go, "The White Guard" is perfect, so why didn't I give it 5/5? I don't know. The characters are well written, the story is fascinating (for those interested in the subject), the prose and descriptions are great, everything is perfect. Perhaps I wanted a longer book and I'm taking it out on the rating? Okay, I'll give it a 4.5/5.





"Alexei, Elena, Talberg, Anyuta the maid who had grown up in the Turbins' house, and young Nikolka, stunned by the death, a lock of hair falling
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Pavel
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
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Ivan
Aug 12, 2011 Ivan rated it it was amazing
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
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☽ 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
Jennifer Richardson
Jul 05, 2013 Jennifer Richardson rated it it was amazing
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
Dragan
Feb 14, 2013 Dragan rated it it was amazing
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.
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J.A.
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
Sera
Dec 31, 2013 Sera rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sera by: Fil
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
sslyb
Apr 24, 2014 sslyb rated it really liked it
Shelves: russia, kindle, ww-i
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
sam(antha)
Apr 24, 2015 sam(antha) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Tutto passerà. Le sofferenze, i tormenti, il sangue, la fame e la pestilenza. La spada sparirà, ma le stelle resteranno anche quando le ombre dei nostri corpi e delle nostre opere non saranno più sulla terra. Non c'è uomo che non lo sappia. Perché dunque non vogliamo rivolgere lo sguardo alle stelle? Perché?"
Czarny Pies
Nov 21, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ceux qui aimient la littértaure Russe.
Shelves: russian-lit
C'est un excellent roman qui decrivent les événements au foyer de la famille Tourbine a Kiev en 1918. Les forces des rouges, des blancs, des Ukranien naitonalistes et les allemandes font la guerre pour la possession de la ville. Les sympathies des Tourbines qui sont petits bourgeois penchent ver les blancs mais ils sont determinés surtout à ne pas risquer leurs peaux en prenant parti active dans les combats.

La Garde Blanche est extremement comique. Bulgakov a faite une version pour la scène qui
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Jake Danishevsky
Mikhail Bulgakov is one of my favorite authors. I have the same feeling about his work, as I do about Huxley's, those two could not write a bad book. Any book that I picked up so far by either writer is a masterpiece and keeps you on the edge of your sit, whether it is about something exciting or just several people having a discussion in one room. Amazing, truly amazing works.

The White Guard is one of those amazing masterpieces. The story takes place right post Russian Revolution. The times ar
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Ana
Jul 18, 2010 Ana rated it really liked it
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” (“
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Viktor Malafey
Feb 17, 2013 Viktor Malafey rated it it was ok
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
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pianetino89
Jan 02, 2016 pianetino89 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classici_2016
Tutto passa. Le sofferenze, i tormenti, il sangue, la fame e la pestilenza. La spada sparirà, e le stelle invece rimarranno, quando anche le ombre dei nostri corpi e delle nostre azioni più non saranno sulla terra. Le stelle rimarranno allo stesso modo immutabili, allo stesso modo scintillanti e meravigliose. Non esiste uomo sulla terra che non lo sappia. Perché allora non vogliamo la pace? Perché non vogliamo rivolgere il nostro sguardo alle stelle? Perché?

http://ifyouhaveagardenandalibrary.bl.
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Ivana
Feb 23, 2016 Ivana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prúdy vedomia a snov asi najviac vyniknú v celospoločenskom chaose. Výnimočná kniha, ďalšia ukážka toho, že z tej kôpky to-read kníh sa oplatí vyberať aj zospodu.
K. Lincoln
Mar 28, 2014 K. Lincoln rated it really liked it
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
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Kenneth P.
Apr 24, 2014 Kenneth P. rated it really liked it


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
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Jason
Jul 18, 2015 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, novel, classic
Three of my favorite books--Anna Karenina, Don Quixote and Dead Souls--were cases where I began the book, did not like it, put it down, and returned to it much later (and have since read them multiple times). I have read most of Bulgakov, in many cases multiple times, but was defeated by White Guard on two previous occasions. This time I made it through the new(ish) translation of a supposedly more complete version by from Marian Schwartz and, I hate to say it, but I still did not like it very m ...more
Marc Gerstein
Oct 13, 2015 Marc Gerstein rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
This isn’t a conventional novel at all. There are protagonists – sort of – in the Turbin siblings. But they don’t function as literary characters usually do. Instead, they are a micro reference point for what is big-picture macro piece chronicling the late-1918 post WWI aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution. It would be an understatement to characterize that period as a civil war; it’s more like mass chaos with many competing forces each with its own agenda and they come and go in Kiev, the sett ...more
Alexander Isayenko
Feb 07, 2014 Alexander Isayenko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kiev in May 1891. He studied and briefly practised medicine and, after indigent wanderings through revolutionary Russia and the Caucasus, he settled in Moscow in 1921. His sympathetic portrayal of White characters in his stories, in the plays The Days of the Turbins (The White Guard), which enjoyed great success at the Moscow Art Theatre in 1926, and Flight (1927), and ...more
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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?” 93 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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