Mirra Ginsburg

Mirra Ginsburg is a Belarusian-born writer and translator.

Mirra Ginsburg

Mirra Ginsburg (1909–2000) was born in Bobruysk, Byelorussia, and spent her childhood surrounded by nature. This setting was a relief from her family’s extreme poverty and though her parents were poor they raised her with an appreciation of culture and politics. A prolific writer and translator, Ginsburg settled in the United States. She is best know for introducing the West to Siberian and Central Asian folklore, and for her childrens’ books. She has also translated a number of important works of Russian literature, including novels by Mikhail Bulgakov and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

cover image of the book The Life of Monsieur de Moliere

The Life of Monsieur de Moliere

Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Life of Monsieur de Moliere is a fascinating portrait of the great French seventeenth-century satirist by one of the great Russian satirists of our own century. For Bulgakov, Moliere was an alter ego whose destiny seemed to parallel his own. As Bulgakov’s translator, Mirra Ginsburg, informs us: “There is much besides their craft that links these two men across the centuries. Both had a sharp satirical eye and an infinite capacity for capturing the absurd and the comic, the mean and the grotesque: both had to live and write under autocracies: both were fearless and uncompromising in speaking of what they saw, evoking storms with each new work: and shared what Bulgakov calls ’the incurable disease of passion for the theater.’”

The life of Moliere, born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, is a story of struggle and dedication, and Bulgakov tells it with warmth and compassion. Indeed, for all Bulgakov’s careful attention to historical detail, his vivid recreation of seventeenth-century France makes The Life of Monsieur de Moliere read more like a novel than a formal biography.

Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1949) is best known in the West for his monumental novel The Master and Margarita. His The Life of Monsieur de Moliere, completed in 1933, was not published until 1962. Mirra Ginsburg’s translation of this neglected masterpiece will find a welcome readership among devotees of the theater and of modern Russian literature.

More Information
cover image of the book Flight & Bliss

Flight & Bliss

Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940) required the dramatic and fictional forms “as the pianist needs both his left and his right hands." While he is best known here for his novels, in the U.S.S.R. he is also famous for his plays. Neither of the plays in this volume, Flight (1926-28) and Bliss (1934), was published until long after the author’s death. By 1929, his persistent refusal to conform to the demands of the Communist government and critics had led to a ban on all his work. Flight was not produced until 1957 and Bliss has never yet been produced. Flight incensed the critics because Bulgakov treated some of the Civil War’s Whites as suffering, doomed human beings rather than stock images of “the class enemy.” This tragicomedy is dominated by the nightmare figure of General Khludov, both executioner and victim, disintegrating as his world disintegrates. Charnota, on the other hand, is the hyperbolic image of a man hellbent for destruction, descending from White Major General to penniless gambler in Constantinople’s cockroach races. In Bliss, for the first time in English translation, the engineer Rein travels to the past in his time machine and returns with Ivan the Terrible accidentally in tow. Four centuries ahead of his time, the Tsar is stranded in Rein’s attic, bellowing imprecations. The bureaucrat Bunsha (a former prince who, for security in a proletarian state, insists he is the illegitimate son of his father’s coachman) is foiled in efforts to report this tumultuous housing violation by an involuntary trip with Rein to the year 2222. A pickpocket, Miloslavsky, also transported to this serene, policeless future, weeps nostalgically before the museum effigy of a policeman.

More Information
Scroll to Top of Page