Without a more complete understanding of Russian history and sociological background, I realize that I am missing much of the more subtle metaphors in this fantasy, and there is as well the different slant that more contemporary (as well as cultural) reading will offer in meaning. So while Bulgakov as a writer attempting to show a picture of what is going on in his Russia while hiding it within layers of story, casts of odd characters, he does have the writer as a center of focus in the story. I might assume then that things then were as they are now, but with the criteria of judging a writer more of a political basis of method.
"Are you writers?" asked the woman in turn. "Of course we are," replied Korovyov with dignity. "May I see your ID’s?" repeated the woman. "My charming creature…" began Korovyov, tenderly. "I am not a charming creature," interrupted the woman. "Oh, what a pity," said Korovyov with disappointment, and he continued, "Well then, if you do not care to be a charming creature, which would have been quite nice, you don’t have to be. But here’s my point, in order to ascertain that Dostoevsky is a writer, do you really need to ask him for an ID? Just look at any five pages of any of his novels, and you will surely know, even without any ID, that you’re dealing with a writer. And I don’t suppose that he ever had any ID! (p. 299)
What does this tell us about the state of literature at the time? What does it say about literature today?