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The Master and Margarita (Vintage…
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The Master and Margarita (Vintage International) (original 1966; edition 1996)

by Mikhail Bulgakov

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,613None228 (4.27)5 / 755
Member:gaskella
Title:The Master and Margarita (Vintage International)
Authors:Mikhail Bulgakov
Info:Vintage (1996), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library, Book Group Reads
Rating:****
Tags:Russia, 20thC classic, Satire, Fiction, Book group

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The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1966)

1001 (77) 1001 books (58) 20th century (246) Bulgakov (64) classic (170) classics (144) communism (45) devil (133) fantasy (230) fiction (1,479) Folio Society (56) literature (253) magical realism (231) Moscow (135) novel (376) own (50) read (130) religion (95) Roman (65) Russia (572) Russian (629) Russian fiction (90) Russian literature (627) Satan (70) satire (267) Soviet (47) Soviet Union (106) to-read (190) translation (121) unread (87)
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English (224)  Italian (10)  French (9)  Finnish (4)  Dutch (3)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (2)  Catalan (1)  Czech (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (259)
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)
Bought this book at Foyle's Booksellers in Bloomsbury, London while on vacation.
  BooksForDinner | Apr 11, 2014 |
Mikhail Bulgakovʻs THE MASTER AND MARGARITA is the MOST BRILLIANT NOVEL written during the era of Stalinist Russia -- far more original, daring, in-your-face and under-your-nose satire that undertakes
REALISM as PHANTASY for TRUTH-TELLING. The writing follows a masterful gymnastʻs thinking except the rings of the event are hard core history. IT IS THE MOST INTELLECTUAL NOVEL of the TIME, speaking of the absolute need for human freedom and when that is not physically possible, for the survival of human spirit. In a profound sense, it is not merely of Stalinist Russiaʻs terrorist government but of all tyrranical extremist governments that force individuals to take to the most interior parts of their minds and hold them together with the falterings of their hearts to keep alive, all the while there is wholesale betrayal, fear, desperation, suffocating restraint, forced conspiracies, murder. The air itself is poisoned. And the way to escape is to set up a satirical phantasy, except like all clowning that is truth-centered, it is self-immolating to point out in any other way. Masked as supreme weirdness and light-headed fantastical exhortations and wicked double crostic steely wit, THIS IS TRAGEDY AT ITS MOST PROFOUND,

Bulgakov was a renowned dramatist in Russia. His plays were allowed to be written but not produced. He was also a poet. But he wrote in novel form because it allowed him the action of drama, the intellectual significance of plot which is motivated action, and the warp and woof of character development as the theme could be unfolded. He was a MAGICIAN of Belles Lettres. So subtle is the Magic that in much of the democratic Middle Class world, the magic is treated like circus magic, whereas it is in fact a tragedy rolled into comedy -- in order that, if found, it would not condemn the holders of the manuscript to automatic execution or what is another form of that: life without human expressive witness to the truth of one manʻs inhumanity to millions of his countrymen of the time.

For that reason, I rate this book a SOLID FIVE STARS. ( )
3 vote leialoha | Mar 17, 2014 |
Long-winded and clunky writing. Still enough brilliant scenes to save the book, but after about 100 pages all the fastidious characters blurred together and I found myself counting down until it was over. None of the characters are very deep, unfortunately; you could likely combine most of the supporting cast into a singular nervous figure. The mischievous devils do make for some fun scenes but that too became redundant---the same trickster scenes over and over.

Also, worst of all, the Master's novel-within-the-novel was incredibly dull. I had a hard time finishing all the sections about Yeshua and Levi. Nothing interesting there; a slightly-skewed version of the same old Biblical story. It didn't really add much to the story either, other than set-up the overplayed duality between Good and Evil. Th language felt incredibly dated for a book from the 30s---Lines like 'Follow m O Reader,' and the phrase 'the devil knows' appears about 300 times too many. It soon became obvious that Bulkagov worked most of his life in the theater, since his character's exaggerated dialogue reads like something straight off the stage.

I got some of the satire, but I never read this book with an interested in the USSR. As a historical artifact this book may hold more weight than it does; as a work of art, this has to be one of the most overrated books I've read in a while. It's not even the best book I've read this week, let-alone one of the greatest works of the 20th Century. The first half of the book was quite good, though, while Bulgakov set up the intrigue of Behemoth and the devil, and there are some genuinely riveting scenes. ( )
  blanderson | Mar 4, 2014 |
This was slow at first, and I had a hard time getting into it, but I agree with Gerard that it picks up in the second half. I really enjoyed the parts with Margarita and her dramatic evening, but wasn't as into the sections on Pontius Pilate or the havoc Woland wreaked in Moscow. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
What a very, very clever book. To appreciate it, you have to be aware of the context in which it was written and for that I’d heartily recommend the excellent Wikipedia entry for the book (although it might contain more of the story than you’d want to know prior to reading it.)

When Satan and his entourage visit Moscow all hell, literally, breaks loose. I was captivated by the way the novel messed with the reality of the world as we see it. There are magic realist episodes throughout the book which heighten in intensity and get longer as the book progresses. So, this is a good one for anyone looking to get more experience reading that genre before turning to, say, The Famished Road, Beloved or The Satanic Verses.

As with all the best satire, the novel is at once exceptionally playful and yet layered with symbolic meaning of the deepest sincerity. Take this quote from near the end of the novel and consider it as a description of Satan and his comrades:

"Spokesmen for the police and a number of experienced psychiatrists established that the members of the gang, or perhaps one of them… were hypnotists of incredible skill, capable of appearing to be in two or more places at once. Furthermore, they were frequently able to persuade people that things or people were where they weren’t, or, vice-versa, they could remove objects or people from someone’s field of vision that were really there all the time."

Now read it again and think of it as a description of Stalin and his comrades. Brilliant, eh? The entire novel is littered with carefully constructed criticism of his day.

There is no doubt that this is one of the 20th century’s most important novels. Bulgakov died just four weeks after he’d completed the novel. It’s legacy however, will live for decades to come. ( )
1 vote arukiyomi | Feb 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (137 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bulgakov, Mikhailprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aplin, HughTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arcella, SalvatoreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blomqvist, Lars ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burgin, DianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dridso, VeraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dvořák, LiborTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Figes, OrlandoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flamant, FrançoiseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fondse, MarkoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fondse, MarkoAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ginsburg, MirraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glenny, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldstrom, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heino, Ulla-LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoppe, FelicitasAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karpelson, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nitzberg, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Connor, Katherine TiernanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Proffer, EllendeaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reschke, ThomasÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skalaki, KrystynaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volokhonsky, LarissaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
קריקסונוב, פטרTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
...and so who are
you, after all?

—I am part of the power
which forever wills evil
and forever works good.

Goethe's Faust
‘Say at last — who art thou?’

‘That Power I serve
Which wills forever evil
Yet does forever good.’

Goethe, Faust
...Так кто ж ты, наконец?

— Я — часть той силы,
что вечно хочет
зла и вечно совершает благо.

Гете. “Фауст”
Dedication
First words
One hot spring evening, just as the sun was going down, two men appeared at Patriarch’s Ponds.
At the sunset hour of one warm spring day two men were to be seen at Patriarch’s Ponds.
Однажды весною, в час небывало жаркого заката, в Москве, на Патриарших
прудах, появились два гражданина.
Op een broeihete lentedag daagden omtrent zonsondergang twee burgers op in het park rond de Patriarchvijver.
Quotations
...manuscripts don’t burn.
Рукописи не горят.
Les manuscrits ne brûlent pas.
what would your good do if evil didn't exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (6)

Book description
In this book, the devil and his entourage, which includes two demons, a naked girl and a huge cigar-smoking black cat who talks, walks upright and is a crack shot with a Mauser automatic, appear in Moscow. They wreak anarchy & havoc on the people.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679760806, Paperback)

Surely no stranger work exists in the annals of protest literature than The Master and Margarita. Written during the Soviet crackdown of the 1930s, when Mikhail Bulgakov's works were effectively banned, it wraps its anti-Stalinist message in a complex allegory of good and evil. Or would that be the other way around? The book's chief character is Satan, who appears in the guise of a foreigner and self-proclaimed black magician named Woland. Accompanied by a talking black tomcat and a "translator" wearing a jockey's cap and cracked pince-nez, Woland wreaks havoc throughout literary Moscow. First he predicts that the head of noted editor Berlioz will be cut off; when it is, he appropriates Berlioz's apartment. (A puzzled relative receives the following telegram: "Have just been run over by streetcar at Patriarch's Ponds funeral Friday three afternoon come Berlioz.") Woland and his minions transport one bureaucrat to Yalta, make another one disappear entirely except for his suit, and frighten several others so badly that they end up in a psychiatric hospital. In fact, it seems half of Moscow shows up in the bin, demanding to be placed in a locked cell for protection.

Meanwhile, a few doors down in the hospital lives the true object of Woland's visit: the author of an unpublished novel about Pontius Pilate. This Master--as he calls himself--has been driven mad by rejection, broken not only by editors' harsh criticism of his novel but, Bulgakov suggests, by political persecution as well. Yet Pilate's story becomes a kind of parallel narrative, appearing in different forms throughout Bulgakov's novel: as a manuscript read by the Master's indefatigable love, Margarita, as a scene dreamed by the poet--and fellow lunatic--Ivan Homeless, and even as a story told by Woland himself. Since we see this narrative from so many different points of view, who is truly its author? Given that the Master's novel and this one end the same way, are they in fact the same book? These are only a few of the many questions Bulgakov provokes, in a novel that reads like a set of infinitely nested Russian dolls: inside one narrative there is another, and then another, and yet another. His devil is not only entertaining, he is necessary: "What would your good be doing if there were no evil, and what would the earth look like if shadows disappeared from it?"

Unsurprisingly--in view of its frequent, scarcely disguised references to interrogation and terror--Bulgakov's masterwork was not published until 1967, almost three decades after his death. Yet one wonders if the world was really ready for this book in the late 1930s, if, indeed, we are ready for it now. Shocking, touching, and scathingly funny, it is a novel like no other. Woland may reattach heads or produce 10-ruble notes from the air, but Bulgakov proves the true magician here. The Master and Margarita is a different book each time it is opened. --Mary Park

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:29:02 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Set in Moscow of the 1920's, this satirical novel recounts the dealings a writer and his mistress have with Satan.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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Editions: 0141188286, 0140455469

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