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The Diaries of The Master and Margarita with Alessandro Gallenzi and Roger Cockrell

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Please join us for a conversation between Alessandro Gallenzi, publisher of Alma Books, and Roger Cockrell, whose critically acclaimed translations of Mikhail Bulgakov’s works include Alma Books’s Diaries and Selected Letters.

The career of Mikhail Bulgakov, the author of The Master and Margarita – now regarded as one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century literature – was characterized by a constant and largely unsuccessful struggle against state censorship. This suppression did not only apply to his art: in 1926 his personal diaries were seized by the authorities. From then on he confined his thoughts to letters to his friends and family, as well as to public figures such as Stalin and his fellow Soviet writer Gorky.

This ample selection from the diaries and letters of Mikhail Bulgakov, mostly translated for the first time into English, provides an insightful glimpse into the author’s world and into a fascinating period of Russian history and literature, telling the tragic tale of the fate of an artist under a totalitarian regime.



Born in Kiev in 1891 to Russian parents, Mikhail Bulgakov trained as a doctor and volunteered for the Red Cross on the outbreak of the First World War. He later enlisted as a doctor for the anti-Bolshevik White Army, before eventually giving up medicine to concentrate on literature. The Master and Margarita is his most famous work, and has been hailed as one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

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Alessandro Gallenzi is the founder of Hesperus Press, Alma Books and Alma Classics, and the successor of John Calder at the helm of Calder Publications. As well as being a literary publisher with over fifteen years of experience, he is a prize-winning translator, a poet, a playwright and a novelist.  

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Roger Cockrell graduated from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, in 1965 and, after a year at Moscow University as a British Council scholar, was appointed as a lecturer in Russian at Exeter University. In 1979–80 he was a visiting associate professor at the University of Toronto, and from 1980 until 2004 was head of the Russian Department at Exeter. He is currently Honorary Fellow in Russian at Exeter. He has translated many Russian books and two screenplays, and is the author of several books and articles on Russian literature.