Moscow: Nedra, 1925. 160 pp. 23x15 cm. In publisher’s illustrated wrappers. Wrappers carefully restored, previous owner’s signature on the front wrapper and t.p. (red pencil), restoration of a several lower margins of pages, occasional brown spots. Otherwise good.
One of 5000 copies. Very rare. First edition of the first book by Mikhail Bulgakov and the only book printed in his lifetime in the Soviet Union. Apart from Devildom, the collection consists of ‘The Fatal Eggs’ , ‘#13. The house of Elpit Pabkomunna’, ‘Chinese story’ and ‘Chichikov’s adventures’ (the satire on Gogol’s Dead Souls, where the characters from the original poem are placed in the early Soviet reality).
On August 31, 1923, Bulgakov reported in a letter to his friend, writer Yury Slezkin: “I finished the Devildom, but it is unlikely that it will pass anywhere. Lezhnev (editor of the magazine ‘Rossiya’) refused to take it”. The Devildom was accepted for publication by the Nedra publishing house, headed by Nikolai Angarsky, an old Bolshevik distinguished by a good literary taste of the 19th century Russian classics.
The almanac «Nedra» with the «Devilidom» was published on February 25, 1924. The reception was cold. The only noticeable response to the «Devilish» was the opinion of the famous writer Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937), who later became a Bulgakov friend. He noted: «The only modern fossil in the Nedra (i.e. subsoil) is Bulgakov’s Devildom. The author undoubtedly has a true instinct in choosing a compositional setting: fiction, rooted in life, fast as in a movie, changing pictures is one of those (few) formal frameworks in which we can put our yesterday... The absolute value of this Bulgakov’s thing - very much kind of thoughtless - is small, but from the author, apparently, you can expect good work. « Later, when Bulgakov was already known as the author of the play «Days of the Turbins,» unfriendly critics drew attention to the «Devilish» and called for Bulgakov’s book to be banned. Indeed it was banned and it was also confiscated (Bulgakov, M.A. Sobranie Sochineniy. vol2. M., 1989. p. 663). In 1929 Glavpolitprosvet (the main censorship organ of Soviet Russia) included this book as well as Bulgakov’s works printed by emigrant publishing houses in the list of banned books.
Blum. Zapreshchennie knigi russkih literatorov. [i.e. Banned books by russian authors] 1917-1991. #95.