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White Guard

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  8,194 Ratings  ·  180 Reviews
White Guard, Mikhail Bulgakovs semi-autobiographical first novel, is the story of the Turbin family in Kiev in 1918. Alexei, Elena, and Nikolka Turbin have just lost their mothertheir father had died years beforeand find themselves plunged into the chaotic civil war that erupted in the Ukraine in the wake of the Russian Revolution. In the context of this familys personal l ...more
ebook, 353 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Yale University Press (first published 1926)
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Dec 19, 2014 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
Jan 13, 2009 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Russophiles, lovers of literary classics

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

I have the 2009 edition from Yale University Press 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 sur

Nov 11, 2014 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
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
Feb 08, 2017 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Blood is cheap on those red fields...”

It is 1918, and Kiev in the Ukraine is at the swirling centre of the forces unleashed by war and revolution. The three Turbin siblings live in the house of their recently deceased mother in the city. They are White Russians, still loyal to the Russian Tsar, hoping against hope that he may have escaped the Bolsheviks and be living still. But there are other factions too – the German Army have installed a puppet leader, the Hetman Skoropadsky, and the Ukrania
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.
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
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
This book does an excellent job portraying the confusion and chaos in Kiev in December 1918. The White Guard defending the city are woefully outnumbered by those who are going to attack the city-- the Bolsheviks.
The leaders of the Whites flee the city, leaving few instructions to those left behind, mostly Cadets. Many of the Cadets and officers are killed but some are able to flee.
The Turbin family, two brothers and their sister, show how this confusion and disaster affected the people of Kiev o
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
Oct 08, 2013 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
Dec 16, 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
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 WHITE GUARD. (1923). Mikhail Bulgakov. ***.
This was the author’s first novel, and became better known by means of a play based on the book. It is the story of the battles of the Russian Revolution as they occurred in around the city of Kiev. Little is known about the battles on the Eastern Front during WW I, and about as much about the Revolution in the Ukraine region. This novel focuses on the adventures of one family in Kiev, the Turbins, in the year 1918. What Bulgakov did was to tell his
Aug 12, 2011 Ivan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 03, 2017 dely rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, 0-ukraine
Eh, non so proprio che valutazione dare a questo libro. Opto per le due stelline perché sono riuscita a finirlo e perché apprezzo lo genio di Bulgakov, ma non ho apprezzato la lettura di questo libro. La storia inizia subito e sin dalle prime pagine sembra tutto confuso e sconclusionato. La storia è ambientata a Kiev e si svolge tra il dicembre del 1918 e febbraio del 1919. È un momento storico particolare e di grande confusione perché l'etmano si sposta nelle regioni del Don, i tedeschi tolgono ...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
Feb 14, 2013 Dragan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 17, 2007 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First off, I have absolutely no knowledge about the background of this story which is the Russian Civil War between the White and Red. Evidently, it was a brief time immediately following WWI and before the Bolshevik Revolution. The main characters are a middle class doctor’s family in Kiev who join the White Guard to help defend their home.

It was good, although I find the book description on the used marketplace where I bought it which said it was, "lovely" quite laughable. It’s your typical wa
Apr 22, 2014 sslyb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 20, 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?"
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Trevor Durham
Strange... a darker narrative, with less cohesion and more modernism, and not necessarily for the best. Outside of Russian revolution fanatic, it becomes difficult to find investment in the strange cast of recurring characters, unless you find the dark, haunted characters fascinating. Bulgakov is by no means a bad writer, but I far prefer his humor to his darkness.
Purtroppo Bulgakov continua a non essere "my cup of tea".
Marko Boskovic
Apr 21, 2016 Marko Boskovic rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Završivši sa čitanjem Bele garde, nisam siguran koji mi je utisak. Na "prvu loptu" lako bih mogao da zaključim da mi se nije naročito svideo.

Nije lak za čitanje jer zahteva veliko predznanje konteksta u kojem se radnja odvija:
- poznavanje Grada, njegove fizionomije i topografije, Bulgakov precizno pozicionira radnju u sokake i komšiluke kao da smo svi rođeni u Kijevu i da lako možemo da pratimo likove dok preskaču plotove i iskradaju se iz jednog dela grada u drugi ili dok armije okružuju i stež
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
May 13, 2010 Ana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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” (“
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
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Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kyiv, Russian Empire (today Ukraine) on May 15 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 Thea ...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?” 121 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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