Mayakovsky’s The Bedbug and Bathhouse

  • Robert Russell


Vladimir Mayakovsky’s plays of the late 1920s, The Bedbug (completed in December 1928) and The Bathhouse (September 1929) share many features with NEP satires such as The Meringue Pie and The Mandate. The Bedbug, in particular, with its nepman family wishing to acquire political protection through an arranged marriage with a worker, seems to stand firmly in the tradition of NEP satire. Yet neither play can be considered purely in terms of NEP, for they both reveal Mayakovsky’s obsessive concern with the future (evident also in Mystery-Bouffe as well as numerous poems), and thus the satirical picture of current Soviet life is specifically contrasted with utopian images of the society of the future. Mayakovsky the satirist ridicules and condemns, while Mayakovsky the utopian idealist fantasises. It is a combination which makes both works ‘problem plays’.


Party Member Cage Animal Soviet Society Revolutionary Period Western Critic 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Mayakovskiy, Klop in Sobranie sochineniy, vol. XI (1958) p. 225.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    R. Russell, ‘Introduction’ in Mayakovskiy, Klop, edited by R. Russell (Durham University Modern Language Series, 1985 ) pp. 15–29.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    R. Jakobson, ‘On a Generation that Squandered its Poets’ in Brown (ed.), Major Soviet Writers ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1973 ) pp. 26–7.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    B. Thomson, The Premature Revolution ( London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1972 ) p. 152;Google Scholar
  5. P. Blake, ‘The Two Deaths of Vladimir Mayakovsky’ in Mayakovsky, The Bedbug and Selected Poetry, edited by Blake and M. Hayward (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1961 ) p. 37.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    I1’inskiy, ‘S Mayakovskim’ in V. Mayakovskiy v vospominaniyakh sovremennikov ( Moscow: Khudozhestvennaya literatura, 1963 ) pp. 299–300.Google Scholar
  7. 27.
    W. Woroszylski, The Life of Mayakovsky ( London: Victor Gollancz, 1972 ) p. 483.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert Russell 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Russell
    • 1
  1. 1.UK

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