Theatrical Novel (also A Dead Man's Memoir) is an unfinished novel by Mikhail Bulgakov. Written in first-person, on behalf of a writer Sergei Maksudov, the novel tells of the drama behind-the-scenes of a theatre production and the writers' world.
Bulgakov began work in earnest on the novel on 26 November 1936. In 1929, he had begun a novel, written in the form of letters, called For Secret Friend (also unfinished), addressed to his future wife Helen Bulgakova, which explains how he "became a playwright". In 1930, For Secret Friend began to develop into a new novel, The Theatre, but in the same year he burned his initial sketches, along with rough drafts of The Novel About the Devil.
Six years later and several weeks after the final break with Moscow Art Theatre, Bulgakov began writing a novel about the theatre. On the first page of the manuscript, he outlined two titles: A Dead Man's Memoir and Theatrical Novel.
The book satirizes Konstantin Stanislavski through the character Ivan Vasilievich, whose methods hinder actors' performances, reflecting Bulgakov's frustration with Stanislavski whilst attempting to stage A Cabal of Hypocrites in 1930–1936.
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