When Soviet censors approved Mikhail Bulgakov's, a stage adaptation of Don Quixote, they were unaware that they were sanctioning a subtle but powerful criticism of Stalinist rule. The author, whose novel would eventually bring him world renown, achieved this sleight of hand through a deft interpretation of Cervantes's knight. Bulgakov's Don Quixote fits comfortably into the nineteenth-century Russian tradition of idealistic, troubled intellectuals, but Quixote's quest becomes an allegory of the artist under the strictures of Stalin's regime. Bulgakov did not live to see the play performed: it went into production in 1940, only months after his death.
The volume's introduction provides background for Bulgakov's adaptation and compares Bulgakov with Cervantes and the twentieth-century Russian work with the seventeenth-century Spanish work.