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To the sources of the motive of mass psychosis in M.A. Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita”


The aim of the work is to analyze the motive of mass psychosis in the novel “Master and Margarita” by M.A. Bulgakov. It is relevant nowadays, when the tendency of close study of madness motive in the writer's works as a particular case of madness motive in Russian literature is outlined in literary criticism. The subject of the research is the consideration of this motive as a technique of parody, creating a unique satirical palette of the sociopolitical life of the country in the era of 1920–1930. Therefore, the methodology of the article includes, along with traditional historical, cultural and mythopoetic approaches, a psychographic commentary. As a result, sources from various humanitarian spheres of human activity are involved in the analysis: fiction, historiography, cultural studies, religion, and psychiatry. Among them: a methodological guide to organizing mass singing “Mass Feasts” (1927) by E.F. Ryumin, , the history of burials in the Vagankovo Cemetery “Men of the Forties” (1869), the novel by A.F. Pisemsky and the related ideology of early twentieth-century literary movements (Symbolism and Proletkult), I.S. Lukash’s emigrant novel “Devil” (1922), a journal version of N. Ognev’s (M. G. Rozanov) novel “Diary of Kostya Ryabtsev” (1926–1928), work by English religion historian D. Robertson “Primordial Christianity” (Russian translation 1930), and N. Kalashnikov’s essay “The Count Cagliostro, the Sorcerer of the Last Century” (1893). Particular emphasis is placed on the psychiatric practice of subduing violent patients. It is concluded that to recreate the motive of mass hysteria Bulgakov’s parody goes from high to low, from laughter to a stamp of horror on the face.


motive, parody, mass psychosis, psychotic epidemic, hysteria

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Russian literature and literature of peoples of Russian Federation

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