Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The Ray of Life
The Fatal Eggs is another little gem by Mikhail Bulgakov. It has been translated several times, including this excerpt from a recent translation by Michael Karpelson. It was even made into a movie, Rokovye yaytsa by Sergei Lomkin in 1996. The story takes place in the near future, narrated from a time four years beyond which Bulgakov wrote the novella in 1924. It concerns the fateful discovery of a ray of red light, artificially produced, that creates drastic effects in microscopic offspring, and eventually in frogs. Bulgakov, a doctor by training, infuses his story with enough clinical terms to make it all seem quite possible, as was the case in Heart of a Dog. The story appears to delight mostly in a H.G. Wells-like vision of the future, but is not without its social allegory of early Soviet times, leading censors to question his intents.