Moscow: Nedra, 1925. Pp. 79-148. 23,5x15 cm. In publisher’s wrappers. Rubbed wrappers with small tears, a copy is a bit loose and some pages are detached, couple of pages with a small tear of the margin (text not touched). Otherwise very good.
One of 5000 copies. Very rare. First publication of “The Fatal Eggs” by Mikhail Bulgakov. The tale was a response to the cultural and sociohistorical situation in Soviet Russia in the first half of the 1920s. One of the sources of the fable was the novel by the English writer H.G. Wells (1866-1946) «Food of the Gods» (1904), which deals with the wonderful food that accelerates the growth of living organisms and the development of intellectual abilities of giant people. In Bulgakov’s story, the giants are not intellectually advanced human individuals, but especially aggressive reptiles. Another Wells novel, “The War of the Worlds” (1898), was also reflected, where the Martians who conquered the Earth suddenly perish from earthly microbes (in “The Fatal Eggs” the reptiles that have risen to Moscow fall prey to the fantastic August frosts). There are more exotic sources. So, the poet Maximilian Voloshin sent Bulgakov a clipping from a Feodosia newspaper of 1921, which said ‘‘about the appearance of a huge reptile in the area of Kara-Dag mountain Red Army Company’’.
On December 27, 1924 Bulgakov read the story at a meeting of writers at the cooperative publishing house «Nikitinsky Subbotniki». On January 6, 1925, the Berlin newspaper «Days» under the heading «Russian Literary News» responded to this event: «The young writer Bulgakov recently read the adventurous novel Fatal Eggs. Although it is literally insignificant, it is worth getting acquainted with its plot”.
Bulgakov himself in his diary entry on the night of December 28, 1924 described his impressions from reading Fatal Eggs: «When I went there, a childish desire to excel and shine, and from there to a complex feeling. What is it? Feuilleton? Or insolence? Or maybe serious? Then not baked. In any case, 30 people were sitting there and not one of them is not only a writer, but he doesn’t even understand what Russian literature is. I am afraid that they might slandered me for all these feats to places not so distant.
Fortunately for the writer, the censorship saw in a campaign of reptiles only a parody of the intervention of 14 states against Soviet Russia in the years of the Civil war (foreign bastards, once hatched from foreign eggs). The story was a fruitful artistic experiment that showed the satirical talent of the writer. Already during the life of the author, it received a wide public response. According to a philologist Sokolov, the prototypes of Professor Persikov could have been the Soviet biologist Alexander Gurvich, who discovered mitogenetic radiation, and Vladimir Lenin.
Worldcat locates this paper issue at Stanford University, NYPL, Columbia University, Yale, Washington Univ. in St. Louis, Indiana University.