The Master and Margarita MOBI ☆ The Master eBook

The Master and Margarita MOBI ☆ The Master  eBook
    The Master and Margarita MOBI ☆ The Master eBook write a novel about Christ and Pontius Pilate the other is Margarita, who loves the Master so deeply that she is willing literally to go to hell for him What ensues is a novel of in exhaustible energy, humor, and philosophical depth, a work whose nuances emerge for the first time in Diana Burgin s and Katherine Tiernan O Connor s splendid English version back cover."/>
  • Paperback
  • 335 pages
  • The Master and Margarita
  • Mikhail Bulgakov
  • English
  • 05 April 2019
  • 0679760806

The Master and Margarita[PDF / Epub] ☃ The Master and Margarita By Mikhail Bulgakov – Essayreview.co.uk The first complete, annotated English Translation of Mikhail Bulgakov s comic masterpieceAn audacious revision of the stories of Faust and Pontius Pilate, The Master and Margarita is recognized as one The first complete, annotated English Translation of Mikhail Bulgakov s comic masterpieceAn audacious revision of the stories of Faust and Pontius Pilate, The Master and Margarita is recognized as one of the essential classics of modern Russian literature The novel s vision of Soviet life in the s is so ferociously The Master eBook  accurate that it could not be published during its author s lifetime and appeared only in a censored edition in the s Its truths are so enduring that its language has become part of the common Russian speechOne hot spring, the devil arrives in Moscow, accompanied by a retinue that includes a beautiful naked witch and an immense talking black cat with a fondness for chess and vodka The visitors quickly wreak havoc in a city that refuses to believe in either God or Satan But they also bring peace to two unhappy Muscovites one is the Master, a writer pilloried for daring to write a novel about Christ and Pontius Pilate the other is Margarita, who loves the Master so deeply that she is willing literally to go to hell for him What ensues is a novel of in exhaustible energy, humor, and philosophical depth, a work whose nuances emerge for the first time in Diana Burgin s and Katherine Tiernan O Connor s splendid English version back cover.


About the Author: Mikhail Bulgakov

Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kyiv, Russian Empire today Ukraine on May He studied and briefly practised medicine and, after indigent wanderings through revolutionary Russia and the Caucasus, he settled in Moscow in His sympathetic portrayal of White characters in his stories, in the plays The Days of The Master eBook  the Turbins The White Guard , which enjoyed great success at the Moscow Art Theatre in , and Flight , and his satirical treatment of the officials of the New Economic Plan, led to growing criticism, which became violent after the play The Purple Island His later works treat the subject of the artist and the tyrant under the guise of historical characters, with plays such as Moli re, staged in , Don Quixote, staged in , and Pushkin, staged in He also wrote a brilliant biography, highly original in form, of his literary hero, Moli re, but The Master and Margarita, a fantasy novel about the devil and his henchmen set in modern Moscow, is generally considered his masterpiece Fame, at home and abroad, was not to come until a quarter of a century after his death in Moscow in Detailed VersionMikha l Afanasyevich Bulgakov Russian was the first of six children in the family of a theology professor His family belonged to the intellectual elite of Kyiv Bulgakov and his brothers took part in the demonstration commemorating the death of Leo Tolstoy Bulgakov later graduated with honors from the Medical School of Kyiv University in He married his classmate Tatiana Lappa, who became his assistant at surgeries and in his doctor s office He practiced medicine, specializing in venereal and other infectious diseases, from to he later wrote about the experience in Notes of a Young Doctor He joined the anti communist White Army during the Russian Civil War After the Civil War, he tried unsuccesfully to emigrate from Russia to reunite with his brother in Paris Several times he was almost killed by opposing forces on both sides of the Russian Civil War, but soldiers needed doctors, so Bulgakov was left alive He provided medical help to the Chehchens, Caucasians, Cossacs, Russians, the Whites, and the RedsIn , Bulgakov moved to Moscow There he became a writer and became friends with Valentin Katayev, Yuri Olesha, Ilya Ilf, Yevgeni Petrov, and Konstantin Paustovsky Later, he met Mikhail Zoschenko, Anna Akhmatova, Viktor Ardov, Sergei Mikhalkov, and Kornei Chukovsky Bulgakov s plays at the Moscow Art Theatre were directed by Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovich Danchenko Bugakov s own way of life and his witty criticism of the ugly realities of life in the Soviet Union caused him much trouble His story Heart of a Dog is a bitter satire about the loss of civilized values in Russia under the Soviet system Soon after, Bulgakov was interrogated by the Soviet secret service, OGPU After interrogations, his personal diary and several unfinished works were confiscated by the secret service His plays were banned in all theaters, which terminated his income Destitute, he wrote to his brother in Paris about his terrible life and poverty in Moscow Bulgakov distanced himself from the Proletariat Writer s Union because he refused to write about the peasants and proletariat He adapted Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol for the stage it became a success but was soon bannedHe took a risk and wrote a letter to Joseph Stalin with an ultimatum Let me out of the Soviet Union, or restore my work at the theaters On the th of April of , Bulgakov received a telephone call from Joseph Stalin The dictator told the writer to fill an employment application at the Moscow Art Theater Gradually, Bulgakov s plays were back in the repertoire of the Moscow Art Theatre But most other theatres were in fear and did not stage any of the Bulgakov s plays for many years.


10 thoughts on “The Master and Margarita

  1. says:

    This review is dedicated to Mary, the very model of a perfect co moderator and GR friend.Unlocking the Meaning of The Master and MargaritaMikhail BulgakovIn the decades following the publication of The Master and Margarita, myriad critics have attempted to find a key to unlock the meaning of Bulgakov s unfinished masterwork Some viewed the novel as a political roman clef, laboriously substituting historical figures from Stalinist Moscow for Bulgakov s characters Others posited a religious fo This review is dedicated to Mary, the very model of a perfect co moderator and GR friend.Unlocking the Meaning of The Master and MargaritaMikhail BulgakovIn the decades following the publication of The Master and Margarita, myriad critics have attempted to find a key to unlock the meaning of Bulgakov s unfinished masterwork Some viewed the novel as a political roman clef, laboriously substituting historical figures from Stalinist Moscow for Bulgakov s characters Others posited a religious formula to understand the relationships between good and evil in the novel.After giving myself time to think, I believe that any attempts to reduce the novel to a formula reflect some readers desire for neat, safe boxes to contain the world This approach is at odds with the fear ridden, desperate, and yet transcendent reality of Bulgakov s experience in writing, revising, destroying, reconstructing, and then revising the novel, up to his death in Moscow on March 10, 1940 The Master and Margarita shows evidence of Bulgakov s struggles to complete it, especially in part two, which illness prevented him from revising I believe that the novel s profound humanity stems from these imperfections, these facets not quite fitting neatly together, these jarring movements from scene to scene In the end, The Master and Margarita is, by virtue of its own existence, a testament to the necessity of art in times of repression, and to the urgent need for artists to veer from cowardice and hold firmly to their commitment to living a true human life, with fantasy and reality combined, with history and invention feeding into each other, with good and evil providing the shadows and depth that make life meaningful and real The Master and Margarita as Fairy TaleOne approach to The Master and Margarita that appeals to me is understanding it, in part, as a fairy tale In the novel, Bulgakov threads together three different storylines, which intertwine, especially at the novel s conclusion the often slapstick depiction of life in Stalinist Moscow, seen in part through the antics of the devil Woland and his demonic helpers the story of Pilate, with names and details transformed from the familiar Biblical versions and the story of the Master and Margarita The action takes place in a compressed time frame, so readers looking for character development will be disappointed Instead, Bulgakov develops an extended allegory where flight equals freedom, where greed and small mindedness are punished, and where weary artists are afforded some mercy and peace The Master and Margarita provided Bulgakov with a lifeline to the imagination in the midst of the stultifying culture of Stalinist Russia There are healthy doses of wish fulfillment in the novel, especially in those sections in which Woland s minions, Azazello, Behemoth, and Koroviev, wreak retribution for the petty mindedness and greed inherent in this political and social system There also is a desperate attempt to resist the Stalinist bent towards monotony and flatness, and instead to weave dizzying strands of magic, fantasy, and power into life in Moscow.BehemothThese attempts to use a story as wish fulfillment, criticizing a social order by turning it upside down in fiction, and recognizing how to use an audience s sense of wonder as a fulcrum for change, resonate with the historical and cultural functions of fairy tales as described by scholars including Jack Zipes in The Great Fairy Tale Tradition and Marina Warner in From the Beast to the Blonde On Fairy Tales and their Tellers Magic and wonder force the reader to acknowledge other possibilities outside of a reality of political repression, poverty, and war When fairy tales reveal challenges to misplaced authority, whether in the guise of an evil queen or a greedy government official, they may take on one of two roles a subversive threat to authority, or a valve to release the pressure of living under severe constraints Perhaps most important, fairy tales remind their readers that life is miraculous, and that certain freedoms, such as the freedom to imagine and dream, can be nurtured and honored even under the most restrictive regimes For Bulgakov, the blend of the fantastical and the everyday in The Master and Margarita serves as his manifesto Throughout his life, he fought to preserve the full human experience, not the two dimensional totalitarianism in the Stalinist USSR, where human life was flattened of any sense of wonder, creativity, exuberance Instead, he advocated for human life with all its shadows and colors, with a foundation in imagination and wonder The freedom he sought was not simply freedom from communal housing or repressive government policies Instead, he sought the freedom to imagine, to dream, to infuse his life with wonder, and to share his vision For this reason, any attempt to read The Master and Margarita as a simple satire of Stalinist totalitarianism is misguided Instead, Bulgakov sought to fly free along with his characters, and in doing so to tap into the universal human need for imagination, wonder, and freedom of the intellect and spirit For me the inability to write is as good as being buried alive Bulgakov and his wife Yelena, c 1939Although Bulgakov universalized his quest for artistic freedom in The Master and Margarita, he drew inspiration and a sense of urgency from his experiences A playwright, he faced censorship as his plays were banned and productions cancelled He saw his fellow writers imprisoned for following their calling In response to one of these cases, Bulgakov destroyed one version of The Master and Margarita, which he later reconstructed In desperation, between 1929 and 1930 Bulgakov wrote three letters to Soviet government officials, including Stalin, to protest his censorship and beg for a chance to practice his art, if not within Russia, outside it In the final letter, dated March 28, 1930, Bulgakov movingly describes his ordeal, arguing that his duty as a writer is to defend artistic freedom, and pleading that being silenced is tantamount to death.Although the letters provided Bulgakov with employment after receiving a favorable response, and saved him from arrest or execution, he still faced his works being banned and suppressed He devoted the last years of his life to revising The Master and Margarita, knowing he would not live to see it published, and sometimes despairing it would ever be read outside of his family circle His widow, Yelena Shilovskaya, worked tirelessly after his death for decades, preserving his manuscript and finally seeing it published, in a censored version, in 1966 and 1967 Planes of Reality The Fantastic, The Historical, and the TotalitarianAzazello, Behemoth, and KorovievSome criticism of The Master and Margarita comes from the abrupt transitions and changes in mood among the three storylines the actions of Woland and his minions in Moscow the transformed story of Pontius Pilate, with some striking changes to the names of characters and the sequence of events which simultaneously make the narrative seemhistorical and keep readers off balance and the story of the Master and Margarita, which includes Bulgakov s central concerns about cowardice, artistry, duty, loyalty and love I believe that Bulgakov purposefully constructed his novel so that the reader would be pulled from dimension to dimension The effect, although jarring, is one of constant instability and surprise The reader is immersed in a world where a Biblical past seemshistorically based and less fantastic than 20th century Moscow, where characters who are petty and greedy are meted out fantastic public punishments, at times literally on a stage, and where in the end characters with the most substance and loyalty have their lives transformed through magic.By carefully building this multifaceted world, with all the seams showing, Bulgakov forces us as readers to consider the intersections among these worlds Bulgakov reveals how we cut ourselves off from the wellsprings of magic and wonder, and invites us to join him in mounting a broomstick and riding off into the night sky, free from the constraints of our everyday lives.The Necessity of Shadows WolandWolandJust as Bulgakov confounds his readers expectations of a unified and seamless world, so he also makes us question our assumptions about good and evil A key character is Woland, the devil at the center of the magical action From his appearance in the first chapter, Woland presents an arresting and disconcerting figure Woland immediately inserts himself into a conversation with Berlioz, the editor of a literary magazine and chair of MASSOLIT, a prestigious literary association, and Ivan, a poet also known by his pen name Bezdomny, engaging in a debate with them about the existence of God Berlioz parrots many of the current arguments against the existence of God, but Woland deftly counters his arguments in a manner that veers between the charming and the sinister.This debate introduces a theme that runs throughout The Master and Margarita a cosmos in which good and evil each have their jurisdiction, but work together to ensure that people get the rewards or punishments that they deserve In a famous passage later in the novel, Woland provides the following cogent descriptionYou pronounced your words as if you refuse to acknowledge the existence of either shadows or evil But would you kindly ponder this question What would your good do if evil didn t exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared After all, shadows are cast by things and people Here is the shadow of my sword But shadows also come from trees and from living beings Do you want to strip the earth of all trees and living things just because of your fantasy of enjoying naked light You re stupid Throughout The Master and Margarita, Woland metes out justice to wrongdoers However, he does not simply punish instead, he also rewards Margarita for her devotion, intelligence, loyalty, and bravery He rescues the Master from his exile in the asylum and ultimately grants him and Margarita a destiny of peace and rest together In doing so, Woland overturns our expectations Bulgakov describes a world where good and evil powers work together to provide some justice and balance in our lives, in spite of the thoughtless and cruel ways that humans behave As Woland tells Margarita at one point, Everything will be made right, that is what the world is built on The true evil in The Master and Margarita does not rise from Hell, but instead comes from the pettiness and greed of flawed, small minded humans.The Master and Margarita Responsibility to ArtThe Master makes his appearance relatively late in the novel, in chapter 13, Enter the Hero However, he is not the traditional hero He is a broken man, living in an asylum, remembering his love for Margarita, while at the same time turning his back on the art that Margarita loved, protected, and honored his novel about Pontius Pilate.In a lengthy conversation with Ivan, the Master paints an idyllic portrait of his life with Margarita, who creates a cozy sanctuary full of roses and love, in which the written word is treasured and respectedRunning her slender fingers and pointed nails through her hair, she endlessly reread what he had written, and then she sewed the very cap he had shown Ivan Sometimes she would squat down next to the lower shelves or stand up on a chair next to the upper ones and dust the hundreds of books She predicted fame, urged him on, and started calling him Master She waited eagerly for the promised final words about the fifth procurator of Judea, recited the parts she especially liked in a loud sing song voice, and said that the novel was her life However this idyll comes to a crashing end when the Master completes the manuscript and looks for a publisher He provides harrowing descriptions of his brutal treatment by the literary world in Moscow, as editors, publishers, and fellow writers publicly criticized him for his novel These descriptions bear the pain of Bulgakov s personal experience with censorship and rejection, culminating in the Master s paralyzing fear of everything around him.Finally, in a scene inspired by events in Bulgakov s life, the Master attempts to destroy his manuscript Although Margarita salvages some pages, this scene marks the end of her life with the Master, who turns his back on Margarita and his art He describes himself as a man without a name or a future, marking time in the asylum Bulgakov depicts the Master as a broken man, whose loss of spirit and cowardice in the face of adversity led him to lose everything of value in his life.MargaritaMargarita poses a stark contrast to the Master When we finally meet her in part two, she is grieving over losing the Master, but she also shows herself to be intelligent, energetic, and fearless in her determination to find him and rebuild their life together In doing so, Margarita is not taking an easy path She is married to a successful husband who adores her The two live in a large apartment with a great deal of privacy, a true luxury in Stalinist Moscow She is beautiful, but she cannot put behind her deep dissatisfaction with her life, apparently perfect on the surface, but with no depth She is living a lie Her despair starts to break when she has a dream about the Master, which she views as a portent that her torment will soon come to an end After rushing from her home, she has a fateful conversation with Azazello, whom Woland has tasked with inviting her to officiate as his queen at his ball Margarita handles the interaction with spirit and courage, agreeing to follow Azazello s mysterious instructions in hopes of learning the Master s fate.Margarita s Night RideMargarita is transformed and embarks on a night ride, flying naked on a broomstick over Moscow After wreaking havoc at the apartment of a publisher who had tormented the Master, and comforting a small boy who awakened, terrified by the destruction, she participates in a moonlight gathering of other magical creatures Afterwards, she returns to Moscow in a magical car, After all that evening s marvels and enchantments, she had already guessed who they were taking her to visit, but that didn t frighten her The hope that there she would succeed in regaining her happiness made her fearless The night ride is a symbol of Margarita s freedom and power.Her fearlessness propels Margarita through her meeting with Woland and his minions, and a surreal evening as the queen of Woland s midnight ball Her devotion is rewarded by Woland, in scenes full of magic and moonlight Although the Master crumbles in the face of adversity, Margarita becomes the ultimate hero and savior through her courage and commitment to the Master and his art.The MoonThroughout The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov uses key symbols to tie together the different chapters and storylines Perhaps the most important symbol is the moon, which appears frequently in practically every chapter The moon conveys a kind of otherworldly truth Characters are bathed in moonlight at critical points in the novel, especially when making entrances, as when the Master first appears in Ivan s hospital room Moonlight imparts insight and truth even to the most delusional of characters The moon lights the night rides of Woland, his companions, Margarita and the Master.Woland and company Night RideThe moonlight also features prominently in the Pilate chapters, serving as a lynchpin between them and the rest of the novel Pilate looks up at the moon for solace in the face of his agony from his migraines and his cowardice, with his faithful dog Banga as his sole companion Bulgakov uses the moon to illuminate Pilate s torment and his final peace, granted to him by the Master, his creatorPilate has been sitting here for about two thousand years, sleeping, but, when the moon is full, he is tormented, as you see, by insomnia And it torments not only him, but his faithful guardian, the dog If it is true that cowardice is the most grave vice, then the dog, at least, is not guilty of it The only thing that brave creature ever feared was thunderstorms But what can be done, the one who loves must share the fate of the one he loves In response to Woland s prompting, the Master stands and shouts the words that complete his novel, and end Pilate s tortureThe path of moonlight long awaited by the procurator led right up to the garden, and the dog with the pointed ears was the first to rush out on it The man in the white cloak with the blood red lining got up from his chair and shouted something in a hoarse, broken voice It was impossible to make out whether he was laughing or crying, or what he was shouting, but he could be seen running down the path of moonlight, after his faithful guardian Pilate, Banga and the moonBulgakov follows this transformative scene with Woland s gift of peace to the Master As she did throughout the novel, Margarita remains by the Master s side, his loyal companion through eternity Bulgakov cannot give salvation to the Master, perhaps because of the enormity of his cowardice against art, perhaps because he has been so damaged by a hostile society In these final passages, Margarita gives the Master, and the reader, a soothing picture of a peaceful life, perhaps one Bulgakov himself longed forListen to the silence, Margarita was saying to the Master, the sand crunching under her bare feet Listen and take pleasure in what you were not given in life quiet Look, there up ahead is your eternal home, which you ve been given as a reward I can see the Venetian window and the grape vine curling up to the roof There is your home, your eternal home I know that in the evenings people you like will come to see you, people who interest you and who will not upset you They will play for you, sing for you, and you will see how the room looks in candlelight You will fall asleep with your grimy eternal cap on your head, you will fall asleep with a smile on your lips Sleep will strengthen you, you will begin to reason wisely And you will never be able to chase me away I will guard your sleep

  2. says:

    The Master and Margarita, Mikhail BulgakovThe Master and Margarita is a novel by Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov, written in the Soviet Union between 1928 and 1940 during Stalin s regime The story concerns a visit by the devil to the officially atheistic Soviet Union Many critics consider it to be one of the best novels of the 20th century, as well as the foremost of Soviet satires.The novel alternates between two settings The first is 1930s Moscow, where Satan appears at the Patriarch Ponds The Master and Margarita, Mikhail BulgakovThe Master and Margarita is a novel by Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov, written in the Soviet Union between 1928 and 1940 during Stalin s regime The story concerns a visit by the devil to the officially atheistic Soviet Union Many critics consider it to be one of the best novels of the 20th century, as well as the foremost of Soviet satires.The novel alternates between two settings The first is 1930s Moscow, where Satan appears at the Patriarch Ponds in the guise of Professor Woland, a mysterious gentleman magician of uncertain origin He arrives with a retinue that includes the grotesquely dressed valet Koroviev the mischievous, gun happy, fast talking black cat Behemoth the fanged hitman Azazello and the witch Hella They wreak havoc targeting the literary elite and its trade union MASSOLIT Its privileged HQ is Griboyedov s house The association is made up of corrupt social climbers and their women wives and mistresses alike , bureaucrats, profiteers, and,generally, skeptics of the human spirit The second setting is the Jerusalem of Pontius Pilate, described by Woland in his conversations with Berlioz and later reflected in the Master s novel This part of the novel concerns Pontius Pilate s trial of Yeshua Ha Notsri, his recognition of an affinity with, and spiritual need for, Yeshua, and his reluctant but resigned submission to Yeshua s execution.Part one of the novel opens with a direct confrontation between Berlioz, the atheistic head of the literary bureaucracy, and an urbane foreign gentleman Woland , who defends belief and reveals his prophetic powers Berlioz brushes off the prophecy of his death, but dies pages later in the novel The fulfillment of the death prophecy is witnessed by Ivan Ponyrev, a young and enthusiastically modern poet He writes poems under the alias Bezdomny homeless His futile attempt to chase and capture the gang and warn of their evil and mysterious nature lands Ponyrev in a lunatic asylum There, he is introduced to the Master, an embittered author The rejection of his historical novel about Pontius Pilate and Christ had led the Master to such despair that he burned his manuscript and turned his back on the world, including his devoted lover, Margarita Major episodes in the first part of the novel include a satirical portrait of the Massolit and their Griboyedov house Satan s magic show at the Variety Theatre, satirizing the vanity, greed and gullibility of the new rich and Woland and his retinue taking over the late Berlioz s apartment for their own use Apartments were at a premium in Moscow and were controlled by the state s elite Bulgakov referred to his own apartment as one of the settings in the Moscow section of the novel Part two of the novel introduces Margarita, the Master s mistress She refuses to despair over her lover or his work She is invited to the Devil s midnight ball, where Woland offers her the chance to become a witch with supernatural powers This takes place the night of Good Friday This is the time of the spring full moon, as it was traditionally when Christ s fate was affirmed by Pontius Pilate, sending him to be crucified in Jerusalem The Master s novel also covers this event All three events in the novel are linked by this.Margarita enters naked into the realm of night after she learns to fly and control her unleashed passions She takes violent retribution on the literary bureaucrats who had condemned her beloved to despair She takes her enthusiastic maid Natasha with her, to fly over the deep forests and rivers of the USSR She bathes and returns to Moscow with Azazello, her escort, as the anointed hostess for Satan s great Spring Ball Standing by his side, she welcomes the dark celebrities of human history as they arrive from Hell She survives this ordeal and, for her pains, Satan offers to grant Margarita her deepest wish She chooses to liberate a woman whom she met at the ball from the woman s eternal punishment The woman had been raped and killed her resulting infant Her punishment was to wake each morning and find the same handkerchief by which she had killed the child lying on her nightstand Satan grants her first wish and offers her another, saying that Margarita s first wish was unrelated to her own desires For her second wish, she chooses to liberate the Master and live in poverty stricken love with him Neither Woland nor Yeshua appreciates her chosen way of life, and Azazello is sent to retrieve them The three drink Pontius Pilate s poisoned wine in the Master s basement The Master and Margarita die, metaphorically, as Azazello watches their physical manifestations die Azazello reawakens them, and they leave civilization with the Devil, while Moscow s cupolas and windows burn in the setting Easter sun Because the Master and Margarita did not lose their faith in humanity, they are granted peace but are denied light that is, they will spend eternity together in a shadowy yet pleasant region similar to Dante s depiction of Limbo They have not earned the glories of Heaven, but do not deserve the punishments of Hell As a parallel, the Master releases Pontius Pilate from eternal punishment, telling him he s free to walk up the moonbeam path in his dreams to Yeshua, where another eternity awaits 1984 1362 9647443277 1385 1386 1389 20

  3. says:

    I m staying home from work today, sick to the extreme, and it s only in that unique feverish clarity that comes with illness that I dare to even try to write about this book.This is THE book The one that all the other books are measured against The one that I ve readtimes since I was twelve than the number of books some people I know have read in their entire lives The one from which I ve memorized entire passages This is it, the golden standard, the masterpiece, the unattainable perfe I m staying home from work today, sick to the extreme, and it s only in that unique feverish clarity that comes with illness that I dare to even try to write about this book.This is THE book The one that all the other books are measured against The one that I ve readtimes since I was twelve than the number of books some people I know have read in their entire lives The one from which I ve memorized entire passages This is it, the golden standard, the masterpiece, the unattainable perfection of literature I m not even being sarcastic I mean every single word of this praise What would your good be doing if there were no evil, and what would the earth look like if shadows disappeared from it After all, shadows are cast by objects and people There is the shadow of my sword But there are also shadows of trees and living creatures Would you like to denude the earth of all the trees and all the living beings in order to satisfy your fantasy of rejoicing in the naked light You are a fool. What is this book about I wish it were easy to tell in one smartly constructed sentence, but luckily it s not It is a story of Woland, the Satan, coming to Moscow with his retinue and wrecking absolute havoc over three long and oppressively hot summer days It is a story of Pontius Pilate the equestrian, the son of the astrologist king, the last fifth Procurator of Judea who has achieved the dreaded immortality due to a single action or rather INaction and wishes nothingthan for it to not have happened It is a story of love between two very lonely people It is a scaldingly witty story about the oppressive nature of early Stalin days and the rampant Soviet bureaucracy It is a phantasmagorical story of the supernatural and the mythical It has elements of humorous realism, romanticism, and mysticism It is all of the above and muchAs doctors the same profession that Bulgakov belonged to, by the way , we are taught to look for the bigger picture, the synthesis of facts, the overall impression, the so called gestalt Well, the gestalt here is it s a true masterpiece Manuscripts do not burnBulgakov wrote this book over a period of 11 12 years, frequently abandoning it, coming back to it, destroying the manuscripts, rewriting it, abandoning it, coming back to it He wrote it during the times when the reaction to such novels would have been the same as Woland has when hearing Master say he wrote a novel about Pontius Pilate About what, about what About whom said Woland, having stopped laughing In these times It s amazing And you couldn t find a different subjectIn these times 1930s were the time of Stalin s rule, the waves of Purges, the paranoia of one powerful man sweeping the country, the denunciations, the lies, the terror, the fear, the accusations, the senseless arrests, the nondescript black cars pulling up to the apartment buildings in the middle of the night and leaving with people who would not be heard from ever again This was a suffocating atmosphere, and the only way Bulgakov survived it was that he for reasons unknown enjoyed the whimsical favor of the tyrant This fear is everywhere, on every single page From the poor unfortunate Berlioz in the early chapters, who without much hesitation is about to contact the authorities to report about a suspicious foreigner to the unnamed people conducting the investigation of the strange Moscow events and puling the victims in for questioning to Rimskiy sending Varenukha with a packet of information for the right people to Master s terrifying and unheard story starting withthemknocking on his window and ending with him broken in the mental institution The fear is everywhere, thinly veiled And yet it is never named, even once the name of those causing the fear, never alluded to no need for it, it s obvious anyway, and besides there s that age long superstition about not naming the name of evil, which, funnily, in this novel is definitely NOT the Devil Only Margarita has the guts to ultimately ask,Do you want to arrest meYou re not Dostoevsky, said the citizeness, who was getting muddled by Koroviev Well, who knows, who knows, he replied Dostoevsky s dead, said the citizeness, but somehow not very confidently I protest Behemoth exclaimed hotly Dostoevsky is immortalThe sharp satire of the contemporary to Bulgakov Soviet life of 1930s is wonderful, ranging from deadpan observations to witty remarks to absolute and utter slapstick that, of course, involving the pair of Korovyev and Behemoth It can be sidesplittingly funny one second, and in the next moment become painfully sad and very depressing Not surprisingly in the Russian tradition humor and sadness have always walked hand in hand therefore, for instance, Russian clowns are the saddest clowns in the entire universe, trust me This funny sadness manages to evoke the widest spectrum of emotional responses from me every single time I read this book, never ever failing at this The only thing that he said was that he considers cowardice to be among the worst human vices. This book is not only the hilariously sad commentary on the realities of Bulgakov s contemporary society it is also a shrewd commentary on the never changing nature of humanity itself The humanity that Woland wanted to observe in the Variety theatre, until he came to the sad but true conclusion that not much changed in them The cowardice the vice that Pilate feels Yeshua Ha Nozri was implicitly accusing him of The greed and love of money, leading to heinous crimes like treason and deceit and treachery The egoism and vanity and self absorption just think of the talentless poet Ryukhin s anger at the seemingly lucky circumstances of Pushkin s fame, the close mindedness and complacency, the hate and bickering This is all there, sadly exposed and gently or sometimes not that gently condemned The consequences of this humanity shown in their extreme think of Ryukhin s craving for immortality and Pilate s terror at facing it And yet we see one bright light of a redeeming quality in the mankind, the one that makes even Woland cringe mercy Just think of people s reactions in the scene with George Bengalsky s head, Master freeing Pilate from centuries of doom, and most touchingly of all Margarita s unforgettable and selfless act of mercy towards Frieda All that makes us not ashamed of being human All that makes us worthy not of the light, the naked light that Woland so derisively talked about, but of peace Just peace The one who loves must share the fate of the one he loves. I love this book, love itthan I could ever hope to express in words I can write endless essays about each chapter, approach it from each imaginable angle, analyze each one precisely and masterfully crafted phrase I could do it for days and yet still not pay due respect to this incredible work of art Because it has the best kind of immortality Because its depth is unrivaled Because it is the work of an incredible genius And so I will stop my feeble attempts to do it justice and instead will remain behind, like the needled memory of poor Professor Ponyrev, formerly Ivanushka Bezdomny, Master s last and only pupil, left to remember the unbelievable that he once witnessed and that broke his heart and soul And I will finish with the lines from this novel that I had memorized back when I was twelve, just as awed by this book as I am now the words that seem to pale when translated from their native Russian into English, alas And master s memory, the restless, needled memory, began to fade Someone was setting master free, just like he himself set free the hero he created This hero left into the abyss, left irrevocably, forgiven on the eve of Sunday son of astrologer king, the cruel fifth Procurator of Judea, equestrian Pontius Pilate.

  4. says:

    The Chicago Tribune wrote The book is by turns hilarious, mysterious, contemplative and poignant, and everywhere full of rich descriptive passages Hilarious and contemplative my ass, CT This book is an interminable slog.Look, here s the deal I get that this book satirizes 1930s Stalinist Russia, and I get that for some this earns The Master and Margarita a place on their works of historical importance shelves But for me, it earns nothing I mean, let s just call a spade a spade, shall we The Chicago Tribune wrote The book is by turns hilarious, mysterious, contemplative and poignant, and everywhere full of rich descriptive passages Hilarious and contemplative my ass, CT This book is an interminable slog.Look, here s the deal I get that this book satirizes 1930s Stalinist Russia, and I get that for some this earns The Master and Margarita a place on their works of historical importance shelves But for me, it earns nothing I mean, let s just call a spade a spade, shall we There are articles in the Journal of Biological Chemistry that havesuccessfully held my attention than this Bulgakovian bore Exhibit A To start, the characterization in this book is near zero Although there is a point where some barely discernable personality traits become apparent in one or two of the characters, by the time the reader makes it this far the show is nearly over And if by curtain call the reader discovers Woland and his retinue to be even remotely interesting, it is not because of careful character construction It slike the end of a really stuffy dinner party when you begin making your parting rounds The thrill is in the palpability of finally being free of these people Toodle oo And what is the author s intent here, to single out the literary bureaucrats and the nouveaux riche If so, the demographic is not effectively targeted The Faustian demon who comes to wreak havoc across Moscow does so seemingly at random, with little adherence to agenda Bartenders, ticket sellers, poets, little old ladies they are all ambushed It is clear someone needs to take a lesson from Omar Little, who ain t never put no gun on no citizen Whatever I m tired of even writing about this book Before we part, though, I ll leave you with several examples of yet another unworthy aspect of this novel its ridiculous sentences Here are some of my favorites To tell the truth, it took Arkady Apollonovich not a second, not a minute, but a quarter of a minute to get to the phone. I ask this question in complete earnestness is this supposed to be funny I have absolutely no idea Quite naturally there was speculation that he had escaped abroad, but he never showed up there either. Huh The bartender drew his head into his shoulders, so that it would become obvious that he was a poor man. Yeah, I give I don t even pretend to understand what this means Anyhoo, hey it s been a pleasure meeting you all we should do this again soon Toodle oo

  5. says:

    Love leaped out in front of us like a murderer in an alley leaping out of nowhere, and struck us both at once As lightning strikes, as a Finnish knife strikes She, by the way, insisted afterwards that it wasn t so, that we had, of course, loved each other for a long, long time, without knowing each other, never having seen each other I experienced this magical novel as an unrivalled ode to love and reveled in its delectable burlesque and hilarious scenes It knocked me off my feet and pointed Love leaped out in front of us like a murderer in an alley leaping out of nowhere, and struck us both at once As lightning strikes, as a Finnish knife strikes She, by the way, insisted afterwards that it wasn t so, that we had, of course, loved each other for a long, long time, without knowing each other, never having seen each other I experienced this magical novel as an unrivalled ode to love and reveled in its delectable burlesque and hilarious scenes It knocked me off my feet and pointed me to read Goethe s Faust Somewhere around 1930, the devil and his cronies descend on Moscow, putting the entire city on edge by their diabolical humor and ditto magic tricks The authorities can only look on, powerless Before the arrival of the devil, a Master wrote a novel about Pontius Pilate this serene novel within the novel is entirely integrated in the story , which was dismissed by the regime, therefore sending the Master into a mental asylum Margarita, the Master s clandestine lover, makes a pact with the devil to save her companion writer If she agrees to act as a hostess at the witches Sabbath of the devil naked the devil will free her master, and Margarita and her Master will be together for all eternity and live happily ever after.By far one of the most brilliant novels I have ever read, these insipid sentences were all I was capable of writing about this astounding and greatly allegorical novel when I got a few lines in a free newspaper 10 years ago in order to promote reading, and specifically to lure hence the revealing of Margarita s nakedness readers into reading what has been thematized by the paper as former cult books now The Master and Margarita is strongly established amongst the greatest Russian novels of the twentieth century My copy has been residing with friends for 11 years now, and noticing write ups on it popping up this forum almost every day, I am craving to revisit it Paintings by Danila Zhirov

  6. says:

    Soviet Ghost StoriesStories, stories, all is stories political stories, religious stories, scientific stories, even stories about stories We live inside these stories Like this one in The Master and Margarita The story that we canor less agree upon we call reality But is it real Story making and telling is what we do as human beings Through stories we create meaning out of thin air, in the same way that plants create their food from light, and usually with about the same level of cas Soviet Ghost StoriesStories, stories, all is stories political stories, religious stories, scientific stories, even stories about stories We live inside these stories Like this one in The Master and Margarita The story that we canor less agree upon we call reality But is it real Story making and telling is what we do as human beings Through stories we create meaning out of thin air, in the same way that plants create their food from light, and usually with about the same level of casual unconsciousness We then learn to share meaning and thereby create language and societies We call this culture and have little idea what it means or how it works.What happens when stories, particularly stories about stories, are inhibited or forbidden The most important result society goes mad And that part of society which becomes most mad is that of the professional story tellers who, because they are the carriers of the essential human and cultural talent, become less than human They are unable to tell the stories needed by the rest of us and enter a dream like state of inexplicability and meaninglessness The Master and Margarita is obviously a satire, a purposeful distortion of language to demonstrate its corrupt use It is also obviously meant to recall the necessity for religious stories in a society that has degraded and mocked them But for me the book is less about the corruption of Soviet society and its attitude toward the Christian religion andabout the evenfundamental beliefs that are the unspoken tenets of story telling, that is to say, the philosophy of literature In an important sense, literature is indistinguishable from religion Religion cannot exist without it but it is likely that literature could exist without religion Literature precedes religion Bulgakov notices this in his story of Christ before Pilate These good people, the prisoner began, hastily added Hegemon and continued learnt nothing and muddled up all I said In general, I m beginning to worry that this muddle will continue for a very long time And all because he records what I say incorrectly This is a direct attack on the veracity of the gospel of Matthew Bulgakov here implicitly contrasts religion against literature in his expanded and reinterpreted version of the biblical story of Jesus s condemnation and death and he comes down decisively for literature as thefundamental mode of thinking The only thing beyond a text is another text.This is not to say that literature should cause trouble for religion The use of language is itself a religious experience even when it is used to parody religion as in Bulgakov s Communion of Sinners Ball and demonic Eucharist Literature, consequently, exists as a spiritual and social rather than a material and merely sensory process Materialism, of a Marxist, Capitalist, Scientific or any other sort, tells a story that cannot account for where its story comes from Its causes cannot be enumerated and accounted for Such a story is deficient and incomplete.Stories do not appear to be in nature but they do comment upon nature It is not inaccurate to say that they come from elsewhere And it is this elsewhere that is both the source and guarantor of the integrity of the stories that get told Without the existence of this infinitely fecund elsewhere, the realm of the spirit, there is no way to verify the stories we tell ourselves As Bulgakov has a psychiatrist point out to one writer,People can go around telling all sorts of stories But you don t have to believe everything It is this spiritual elsewhere that Bulgakov has intruding on and disrupting Russian civil society In time honoured fashion, the intruders are portrayed as devils who are able to exploit the presumptuous conceits of this society, especially those of the literary elite of the MASSOLIT, the state run literary guild It is the writers who sense this intrusion first and it is they who are quite properly driven mad or to their death by it Bulgakov s demonic characters are up front in their challenge to cultural reality They make a reductio ad absurdum by denying the reality of language and the society and the culture associated with itThe seductive mystics lie, there are no Caribbean Seas on earth, and desperate filibusters do not sail them, and a corvette does not give chase, and cannon smoke does not spread above the waves There is nothing, and never was there anything eitherThis challenge of course passes over the heads of the Soviet Citizenry.From the writers, the plague induced by constrained and distorted story telling spreads to minor government officials The local housing officer is the first casualty and he instinctively recognises the problem,Comrades We ve got unclean spirits in our buildingAnd he s right the spiritual cannot be excluded, only deformed, by telling a story that denies the spirit Such denial is patently a confirmation of what is being denied.It is through entertainment, 1930 s stage vaudeville, that the condition is spread through the wider population The presumably hidden or at least repressed culture of Soviet consumer society is shown for what it is impressed as deeply as in any capitalist society by the linguistic distortions of brand names and wealth without purpose The watching mass has no idea that it is being shown itself, literally exposed, in all its mendacious cupidity.Even love, ultimately the cohesive force of marriage and family as well as society, is a product of language It appears from that spiritual elsewhere,as a murderer leaps out from under the ground in a side streetfor the Master Love may start with a look but it doesn t progress beyond fantasy unless the look is the beginning of a shared story, interpreted by Margarita as an eternally fated event The object that keeps them together while apart is of course the manuscript of the Master s book, an alternative gospel.If the medieval troubadours are not enough evidence of the cultural determination of the meaning of love, surely the varieties of love articulated in Shakespeare s Sonnets, and accepted by generations since, clinch the case Any society that attempts to limit what love, in all its variants, might mean is doomed by its own contradictions and not just the Soviet variety But it is Bulgakov s conception of divine love that I find the most disturbing aspect of the piece.Any theologically aware person must at some point confront the problem of evil Evil demands a story The monotheistic religions subscribe to the story line that not only the Creator but his creation are good How then does the obvious evil in the world come about The existence of evil is typically explained with one of several largely inadequate theories Evil is a spontaneous development of a rebellious force against the goodness of God and His works Evil is not an autonomous force but merely the localised absence of the divine within creation Evil is actually inherent in a world that was formed by a subsidiary god.This last theory has a number of designations but is usually associated with the third century CE Persian Mani So called Manichaeism is the perennial thinking persons solution to the problem of evil since it accounts for the available facts of life without the need to invent a number of questionable metaphysical entities It needs only one such beast the flawed demiurge, a satanic figure who made a few mistakes in the way he shaped the cosmos and we have been dealing with the consequences ever since.It becomes apparent in The Master and Margarita that Bulgakov rejects all the classical theological explanations for evil, especially Manichaeism But the resulting theology is not easy to digest He suggests that what appears as evil, the work of Satan in the world, is in fact the disguised work of God Bulgakov s contemporary, Carl Jung, termed this the Shadow and conceived it as an integral part of the divine In The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov echoes Jung exactly in Satan s criticism of the evangelist Matthew Would you be so kind as to give a little thought to the question of what your good would be doing if evil did not exist, and how the earth would look if the shadows were to disappear from it After all, shadows come from objects and people In other words God is Satan Satan is God And God Satan cannot be avoided or escaped Even within evil, God is present He is present among the atrocious evil doers of his demonic ball among the crass bureaucrats and proletarian graspers in the audience of the Black Magician among the scammers and players of the system who try to get one up on their fellow citizens in Pilate and in Judas And presumably God is present and active therefore within and through Soviet society despite official protestations to the contrary The idea of Soviet Moscow as Paradise Lost is perhaps the greatest irony truth that Bulgakov expresses in the book Of course Bulgakov does not make a theological argument He tells a story But in this story Satan as well as his devoted angels transform suddenly into their opposites, caring agents of human well being then into clownish Loki or Coyote trinitarian figures whose function is to play the fool with social institutions There is no logic that can capture this divine turnaround from evil to love and play But there is a narrative in which it can be described, and, on the basis of that description, be believed Bulgakov s technique, as well as the substance of his story, is not very different from, for example, the story of Exodus in which the God of Israel both allows the imprisonment of his people and then saves them from the situation he allowed to happen The story also presents an alternative account of creation itself as a text produced and protected by Adam and Eve, a couple which is bound together by it Going beyond biblical bounds, religion itself is accounted for by the Master, the new Adam Of course, when people have been completely pillaged, like you and me, they seek salvation from a preternatural force And he is immediately corrected by Margarita, the new Eve with eminent practicality,Preternatural or not preternatural isn t it all the same I m hungry The theme, almost a running joke, is clear The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away Blessed be the Name of the Lord The situation is dire but not hopeless Exile from the Garden means freedom as well as toil This is a theme that demands great faith to assert More than I have had at times certainly

  7. says:

    Sympathy for the Devil His name is God Not Lucifer,not Satan,but God Satan is God in a bad mood God in a bad mood lays our souls to waste As heads is tales Just call me LUCIFER cop is to criminal as God is to Lucifer God in a good mood plays games with us What s confusing you is just THE NATURE OF MY GAME This song has a direct tie to the book, the Master and the Margarita , is about all the history tragedies with points throughout time The man he is describing is the devil.The Sympathy for the Devil His name is God Not Lucifer,not Satan,but God Satan is God in a bad mood God in a bad mood lays our souls to waste As heads is tales Just call me LUCIFER cop is to criminal as God is to Lucifer God in a good mood plays games with us What s confusing you is just THE NATURE OF MY GAME This song has a direct tie to the book, the Master and the Margarita , is about all the history tragedies with points throughout time The man he is describing is the devil.The devil is asking for sympathy because he claims the reason he is not to blame is because the devil does not make you do anything He simply sets the stage, which is the nature of his game Look up those points in time You should know most of them from history Someone said His name the devil humanity A masterful song for a masterpiece Please allow me to introduce myselfI m a man of wealth and tasteI ve been around for a long, long yearStole many a man s soul to waste And I was round when Jesus ChristHad his moment of doubt and painMade damn sure that PilateWashed his hands and sealed his fate Pleased to meet youHope you guess my nameBut what s puzzling youIs the nature of my game I stuck around St PetersburgWhen I saw it was a time for a changeKilled the czar and his ministersAnastasia screamed in vain I rode a tankHeld a general s rankWhen the blitzkrieg ragedAnd the bodies stankPleased to meet youHope you guess my nameAh, what s puzzling youIs the nature of my gameI watched with gleeWhile your kings and queensFought for ten decadesFor the gods they madeLet me please introduce myselfI m a man of wealth and tasteAnd I laid traps for troubadoursWho get killed before they reached BombayPleased to meet youHope you guessed my name Who who But what s puzzling youIs the nature of my game, get down, babyPleased to meet youHope you guessed my nameBut what s confusing youIs just the nature of my game JUST AS EVERY COP IS A CRIMINAL AND ALL THE SINNERS SAINTS AS HEADS IS TAILSJUST CALL ME LUCIFER Cause I m in need of some restraintSo if you meet meHave some courtesyHave some sympathy, and some taste Use all your well learned politesseOr I ll lay your soul to wastePleased to meet youHope you guessed my nameBut what s puzzling youIS THE NATURE OF MY GAME mean it, get down Tell me baby, what s my nameTell me honey, can you guess my nameTell me baby, what s my name tell you one time, YOU ARE TO BLAME, , ,, , , ,, ,, , , , , , , ,,

  8. says:

    A poet Homeless , as he calls himself, and a magazine editor, his gruff boss, Berlioz, are having a conversation, in a quiet, nondescript Moscow park, just before the start of the Second World War Drinking, just harmless sodas, and discussing business, ordinary right That s the last time in this novel, it is An apparition appears in the sky, weird and unbelievable, a frightening seven foot transparent man, is seen floating above their heads, but only Berlioz spots it, he s obviously, the edi A poet Homeless , as he calls himself, and a magazine editor, his gruff boss, Berlioz, are having a conversation, in a quiet, nondescript Moscow park, just before the start of the Second World War Drinking, just harmless sodas, and discussing business, ordinary right That s the last time in this novel, it is An apparition appears in the sky, weird and unbelievable, a frightening seven foot transparent man, is seen floating above their heads, but only Berlioz spots it, he s obviously, the editor, a very sick man Later a foreign, debonair stranger, joins them on the next bench, they start an uncomfortable, lively, rather dangerous conversation about Jesus in the days of Stalinist Russia , if he really existed The newcomer, a self described black magic expert, tells the others, he saw Pontius Pilate and Jesus, personally Naturally his startled companions, look at him with a little disbelief, the two close friends , think Professor Woland the name is discovered afterwards must be a spy or crazy, either way, authorities should be contacted immediately Tragic results follow soon after, a wild, long, thrilling, death defying chase, through many city streets, ensues, strangest of all, a giant black Tom cat , who walks on two legs, and tries to get on a streetcar, but the heartless conductor, says no cats, refuses entry But Behemoth , the big cat s name, does manage to get on the streetcar, they re very intelligent, resourceful, demanding animals What the devil is going on The charismatic professor, and his talented entourage, give the best magic show, on stage, ever seen in Moscow, by an astounded audience, it s so spectacular, incomprehensible and not explainable, that all the city wants to go also Still ticket lines are numerous blocks in length, and growing, too bad you missed it Meanwhile a married woman, Margarita, having an affair with an obscure, poor author, writing a novel, she calls him Master , you guessed right , the book is about the Roman Governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilate Mirroring Bulgakov s life, the manuscript is banned Countless, funny adventures follow, involving soaring humans, flying without a vehicle, the joys and terrors, looking down, you can imagine, and the destruction of fragile property, everywhere men disappear, creepy events happening all around the vast city , and in the countryside The highlight is Satan s loathsome Ball, presided over by the stunned Margarita, as the incredibly reluctant Queen, attended mostly by the dead eerie, bizarre and grotesque, to say the least A dream like, unworldly, vague, melancholic atmosphere permeates Flamboyant, imaginative fable, a real classic

  9. says:

    Manuscripts don t burn Mikhail Bulgakov, who is no stranger to the pale fire of a burning manuscript, has created a masterpiece of fiction that truly cannot be burned Having been completed, but not fully edited, by the time of Bulgakov s demise, this novel survived Soviet censorship and the test of time to remain one of the foremost Russian novels of the 20th century, and still holds relevance in today s world From political intrigue and scathing social satire to religious commentary and witch Manuscripts don t burn Mikhail Bulgakov, who is no stranger to the pale fire of a burning manuscript, has created a masterpiece of fiction that truly cannot be burned Having been completed, but not fully edited, by the time of Bulgakov s demise, this novel survived Soviet censorship and the test of time to remain one of the foremost Russian novels of the 20th century, and still holds relevance in today s world From political intrigue and scathing social satire to religious commentary and witches on broomsticks, this is one of those rare books that can nestle its way into the deep places of almost any reader s heart Bulgakov lovingly loads each page with semi auto biographical frustrations and sharp irony as he unleashes the powers of hell upon Soviet Moscow.Inspired by the epic Faust in its various forms, notably the opera which our author frequently attended, Master and Margarita spins the story of a Mephistopheles, Woland, and his cohorts as they wreck havoc upon the Moscow This allows Bulgakov to deliver a potent slap in the face to all facets of the obdurate Soviet society that oppressed him and his contemporaries Specifically targeted are those of the arts, particularly the authors of the times who used their words to tow the party line and the literary critics whom Bulgakov detested The bitter satire of these writers, many of which are thrust into an existential epiphany that they are nothing but pathetic frauds when compared to Russia s heroes of the pen such as Alexander Pushkin Mass mockery is made of the numerous beaurocrats and departments, the ease in which a citizen can be arrested, and endless other events that make the daily life of the 20 s seem utterly absurd It is no surprise countless characters find themselves in the asylum, the only place with order, comfort and logic in all of Bulgakov s depiction of Moscow.Juxtaposed with Moscow is the tread of Pontius Pilate, which may or may not be the pages of the Master s book As the Master is not a far cry from Bulgakov himself, readers may notice a wonderful spiral into metafictional oblivion beginning here, and may begin to question the very notions and fabric of the novel they hold in their hands Such as, who really is the intrusive narrator who whimsically guides us through this drama of demons, dreams and destiny, and where does the line between fiction and supposed fact lie However, I digress, and I return you to the tread of Pontius Pilate Or, dear reader, shall I digress yet again, and direct your attention to the implicit irony inherent in the novel s heroes Woland your charming Mephistopheles and Pontius Pilate, the man who signed the death certificate of Jesus Things are not always what they seem in this novel, and much of the dialogue and events are interestingly ironic But yet, what isflagrant to the upheld Soviet atheism than the devil himself preaching that Christ did in fact live For how can they deny religion when the devil is right in their face Bulgakov is a funny genius And now, finally, I return to the Pilate thread, which itself is teeming with irony For in the Pilate chapters, the reader will find a story that is seemingly biblical shorn of all religious implications and instead illuminating political plots and an attempt at a historically plausible event the Master was a historian, or so he says while the biblical allusions and quotations are found within the Moscow chapters instead The Satan s Grand Ball , of all places, has the most frequent biblical quotes and allusions In a way, Pilate s world is not unlike Bulgakov s Moscow, full of dirty politics and persecution On the other hand, the modern Moscow, which denies religion is full of religious symbolism the 12 members seated at the MASSOLIT table, the severed head on a plate, etc Each sentence of this book is a joy The writing simply flows and is incredibly comical, plus the characters are very lovable Woland s demonic procession are highly entertaining and the reader will be compelled to keep reading just to see what chaos can be stirred by them as they flood the city The Master, whom is a hero to all repressed authors, and his lovely Margarita are the gems within this story however Although they lend their names to this novels title, these two lovers make up a very small portion to the story, and aren t even relevant until part 2 when the book finds a groove and takes off like a cannon shot after wandering along the streets of Moscow for the first hundred and some odd pages Always aware of his literary predecessors, Bulgakov leaves constant scholarly jokes as the translators put it and allusions for a reader with an eye for Russian novels to discover Anyone who is as enad with the prose of Nikolai Gogol as I am should definitely read this novel Gogol is apparently a large hero of Bulgakov s and he makes several allusions as well as stylistic choices fashioned off this master of absurdity There are many different translations of this book, I myself chose the Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O Connor version published by Vintage because really, you can t go wrong with Vintage usually, not always but usually because it offered a full version of the text and included many very helpful and insightful notes that really helped highlight the social context and theapocryphal references Nate has a wonderful review that highlights the differences between the many translations and was very helpful in my choosing of this text As I cannot read it as intended in it s original language, I felt this was at least second grade fresh.I cannot stresshow incredible this book is It is just an all around good time and a marvelous example of magical realism used to its highest capacity Despite it s often dark and macabre nature, it is uplifting and laugh out loud funny Plus, the ending is a kick to the head I read much of this through the subways of Boston recently while on a much needed and exceptional vacation, and, like Pilate and his crucified friend, the memory of both have become one Bulgakov s masterpiece has survived censorship and translation to make it to you, don t pass it by 5 5 Gods, my gods How sad the earth is at eventide How mysterious are the mists over the swamps Anyone who has wandered in these mists, who has suffered a great deal before death, or flown above the earth, bearing a burden beyond his strength knows this Someone who is exhausted knows this And without regret he forsakes the mists of the earth, its swamps, its rivers, and sinks into the arms of death with a light heart, knowing that death aloneSeriously How incredible is that

  10. says:

    More or less a novel, this book is also an allegory Like Moby Dick, there are probably a dozen interpretations that can be given to it The extensive local color comes from Moscow in the early Twentieth Century The author wrote and revised it from 1929 to 1940 The main plot centers around a crowd of Russian literati authors, theater goers and hangers on, particularly one older world weary author the Master and his beautiful young girlfriend Margarita The devil and his sidekicks come More or less a novel, this book is also an allegory Like Moby Dick, there are probably a dozen interpretations that can be given to it The extensive local color comes from Moscow in the early Twentieth Century The author wrote and revised it from 1929 to 1940 The main plot centers around a crowd of Russian literati authors, theater goers and hangers on, particularly one older world weary author the Master and his beautiful young girlfriend Margarita The devil and his sidekicks come to town and a lot of evil doings ensue If this were a modern Latin American novel, we would call it magical realism Interspersed with the Moscow chapters is a mini historical novel that the Master is writing about Pontius Pilate and his agony over his decisions leading to the Crucifixion Given that the Soviet Union in this era was promoting atheism, closing churches and persecuting religious folks, the main thesis seems to be summed up as follows Surely the devil is real, and if so, there must be a God Like Dante, in his Divine Comedy, the author uses his work to settle old scores with critics and censors I wouldn t say that it s a book that I couldn t put down, but the plot moves and it kept my attention One thing that struck me is that Moscow was behind the times apparently, and much of the plot felt like it was set in the late 1800 s But then a phone would ring or someone would arrive by plane and it jarred me back to the proper era

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