Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Fatal Eggs by Mikhail Bulgakov (3/5)

First published: 1925
Original title: Роковые яйца
Original language: Russian
Translation to English by: Hugh Alpin, 2003

Page count: 102

The back says: [Super-spoilery, so highlight at own risk]Quite by chance, Professor Persikov discovers a new form of light ray whose effect, when directed at living cells, is to accelerated growth in organism. But when this ray is shone on the wrong batch of eggs, the professor finds himself both the unwilling creator of giant hybrids, and the focus of a merciless press campaign. For it seems the propaganda machine has turned its gaze on him, distorting his nature in the very way his ‘innocent’ tampering created the monster snakes and crocodiles that now terrorise the neighbourhood.

I say: As almost always with authors I have already read, I didn’t read the synopsis before starting this, and glad am I of that, since it pretty much gives it all away. Thus not saying that I wasn’t able to predict what was going to happen before it did. Supposedly this was “inspired” by H. G. Wells, which is going to be my excuse for not liking it.


But seriously, the prose was stiff and at times too scientific for my liking; it was presented in the form of a news report, with a detachment that I didn’t appreciate. In a lot of ways, this detachment serves a certain purpose, especially if one looks upon it as a satire and political allegory of the Russian Revolution (of course). Therefore I am of two minds; on the one had I didn’t very much enjoy the writing, but on the other hand I understand the satire – even if it wasn’t as subtle as I prefer my satire.

As always with Bulgakov, there were a lot of humorous and absurd incidents, not to mention bizarre characters. One really good thing with this edition is that it had notes at the back explaining all the things that would have gone over my head.

3/5 because it was a worthwhile read, but ultimately nothing special.

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