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The Master and Margarita (Vintage…

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

by Mikhail Bulgakov

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13,174319166 (4.25)7 / 869
Title:The Master and Margarita (Vintage International)
Authors:Mikhail Bulgakov
Info:Vintage (1996), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library, Book Group Reads
Tags:Russia, 20thC classic, Satire, Fiction, Book Group

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The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1966)


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English (277)  Italian (12)  French (11)  Finnish (4)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Czech (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (319)
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Chapter One "Never Speak to Strangers"

As the story opens, it is a hot spring evening and Mikhail Alexandrovich Berlioz, the chair of the board of a Moscow literary society Massolit, is walking near the Patriarch's Pond with Ivan Nikolaevich Ponyrev, a poet who uses the pseudonym "Homeless." Berlioz is reprimanding Ivan for the poem he has commissioned for his magazine: it was supposed to deny that Jesus Christ ever existed, but instead it merely it vilifies him. Berlioz discusses common elements of religions through history as an extremely tall, thin, unusual-looking man approaches them. It is the philosopher Woland, whom the reader will later learn is the devil. They assume he is a foreigner until he asks to join their conversation in perfect Russian.

The stranger engages the two men and questions their atheism, invoking the writings of philosopher Immanuel Kant, among others, mentioning that he had recently had a discussion over breakfast with Kant. That and other bizarre comments lead Berlioz and Homeless to suspect that he is crazy. Woland points out that men are at times "unexpectedly moral," meaning that they could die at any time, so they cannot accurately predict what they will be doing that very evening. He even foreshadows Berlioz's death in chillingly accurate detail - but at this point, Ivan and Berlioz still assume he is just ranting.

Ivan dislikes Woland immediately, and accuses him of being insane. Woland calls Ivan by his full name, although Ivan has not yet revealed it, and produces a copy of his recently published verses. The two Russians pull away from the stranger to try to determine his identity. They decide he is some sort of spy, but when they return, Woland somehow has knowledge of what they talked about in their private conversation. He introduces himself as a Professor of black magic and history. He then reminds them that Jesus truly did exist, and embarks upon a tale recounting Jesus' final hours.
Chapter Two “Pontius Pilate”

The second chapter, which the reader knows is the story as told by Woland to Berlioz and Ivan, opens at the palace of Herod in Jeruslaem on the eve of Passover. Pontius Pilate, the Procurator of Judea, has been suffering from a severe headache and is extremely bothered by the smell of rose oil, which seems to be following him. Yeshua Ha-Nozri (which means Jesus the Nazarene) is brought before him, accused of inciting the people of Jerusalem to destroy the temple. Pilate questions Yeshua about these allegations. When Yeshua calls him "good man," Pilate insists that he is to be called "Hegemon," and orders the centurion Mark Rat-Killer to beat him.

The questioning continues, and Pilate becomes annoyed with Yeshua, who answers his questions honestly. Yeshua explains how Matthu Levi follows him around, scribbling on a parchment things that Yeshua has never said. Pilate is intrigued when Yeshua somehow knows about why is unhappy, both at this moment in time and with his life in general: he even knows that Pilate just wants to be with his dog. Pilate does not want to condemn Yeshua, but when he asks Yeshua about his conversation with Yehudah of Kerioth (Judas), he realizes he cannot free him. Yehudah had set him up, and asked him in front of hidden guards what his views were on state authority. When Yeshua said that he believed "that a time will come when there shall be neither Caesars, nor any other rulers." Pilate knows that anyone who publicly and openly undermines the authority of Julius Caesar must be punished.

Along with the high priest Joseph Kaifa (Ciaphus), Pilate addresses the crowd gathered beneath the palace in Greek, and asks who the Sanhedrin (high temple) wishes to free on the eve of this great holiday: the robber Bar-Rabban or Yeshua Ha-Norzri? Although he has already confirmed Yeshua’s sentence himself, Pilate asks Kaifa three times to confirm that it is indeed Bar-Rabban who is to be freed. There is a private quarrel between the two men over this decision, but Pilate feels powerless to reverse it. Pilate takes a moment to speak to Aphranius, but the reader does not yet know the man's name, only that his "face was half-concealed by his hood, although the sun's rays could not possibly disturb him in this room." The decision is announced, and Pilate, unable to look at the group of prisoners, leaves the scene as troops assemble to make preparations for the day’s executions.

Chapter Three "The Seventh Proof"

Chapter 3 begins with the professor's words, "Yes, it was about ten o'clock in the morning..." the last words of the previous chapter, situating the story of Pontius Pilate as being told by the professor. Suddenly it is evening, although Homeless hasn't noticed time passing. When Berlioz scoffs that the professor’s story does not coincide at all with the Gospels, the professor explains that his story is the accurate version, since he was actually there. Berlioz is more certain than ever that the professor is "a lunatic from Germany," and begins to question him. On the topic of where he will be staying, the professor replies that he will be staying in Berlioz's apartment.

Berlioz excuses himself, intending to call the foreigners’ bureau of Woland's whereabouts, and hurries toward the nearest public telephone. As he leaves, the professor calls after him that there is a seventh proof that the devil exists, and that Berlioz is about to discover it, and asks if he should send a telegram to his uncle in Kiev. Berlioz is surprised that the stranger knows about his uncle, but continues on.

He encounters the citizen in checkered trousers that he had seen before, who calls himself an "ex-choirmaster," and who points him towards the turnstile. The mysterious citizen, the reader will learn later, is Koroviev (also known as Fagot), one of Woland's cronies. At the turnstile, Berlioz sees a sign reading “Caution Tram-Car.” Berlioz slips, falls onto the tracks, and sees the female driver of the tram car rushing towards him. He makes no sound, and suddenly realizes that the professor’s prediction is coming true before his head is severed by the train, bouncing away down the cobbled street.

Chapter Four "Pursuit"

Homeless hears the screams of hysterical women, and runs to the turnstile to see that Berlioz has been killed in exactly the manner the foreign professor predicted. He overhears a woman commenting that Annushka caused the whole tragedy by spilling sunflower oil right by the tracks, and Homeless thinks again of the professor’s prediction.

He decides to get to the bottom of the evening's strange events, and finds Koroviev, now wearing an absurd pince-nez, sitting with Woland. Ivan demands of Woland his true identity. Woland responds that he does not understand, or speak Russian, and Koroviev steps in to scold Homeless for interrogating a foreigner. Ivan protests that this man is a criminal, and attempts to enlist Koroviev's help in apprehending him, but the self-described ex-choirmaster just mocks him.

As he chases after the professor, Koroviev attempts to get in his way, and soon they are joined by an abnormally large black tom-cat. The other three creatures get ahead of Ivan, and scatter upon reaching a crowd by the Nikitsky Gate. Koroviev boards a bus, and Ivan watches the tom attempt to pay fare for the train. He is deeply jarred by the absurdity of this action. The tom leaps aboard a tram-car, and Ivan continues after the professor, who also soon disappears.

Ivan for some reason becomes possessed with the idea that the professor must be in a specific apartment, but finds only a woman showering and expecting her illicit lover. Then he decides the professor must be at the Moskva River. He takes off his clothes and goes for a swim in the river; but his clothes are stolen when he emerges, so he must dress in the underpants and Tolstoy blouse left behind by the mysterious bearded man whom he had enlisted to watch his clothes.
He decides to head to Griboedov’s, the home of the Massolit. He takes off through the city, wearing only his drawers and no shoes. He notices that the polonaise from the opera Yevgeny Onegin is playing from everywhere he passes, and is for some reason tormented by it.

Chapter Five "The Affair at Griboyedov's"

The narrator begins Chapter 5 by describing Griboyedov House, called by members simply "Griboyedov's." It is the home of MASSOLIT, the society that had been headed by Berlioz. It is beautiful, and a source of envy for those who are not members. There is also a delicious restaurant, in which the narrator has heard a conversation between two men, Amvrosy and Foka, about the meals there.

Now it is ten thirty at night, and twelve writers are assembled, waiting for Berlioz to arrive. They include the novelist Beskudnikov, the poet Dvubratsky, the writer Nastasya Lukinishna Nepremenova, who writes under the pen name Pilot George, the sketch artist, Zagrivov, and the critic Ababkov. They complain about how he is late, and how he should have called to announce his absence. Meanwhile, the writer Zheldybin has been summoned to identify the body of Berlioz after sealing up the now vacant apartment.

At exactly midnight, the Griboyedov jazz band begins to play, and the members start dancing together. Archibald Archibaldovich, also known as the buccaneer because of his rumored former profession, enters with the news of Berlioz's death. Immediately the revelry stops, and the restaurant resumes its normal mood. At four o'clock in the morning, Ivan appears, looking like a ghost in his bare feet and tattered clothes. He begins ranting about the professor, whom he accuses of murdering Berlioz, but whose name evades him. He has no patience for the people who question him, and fight breaks out.

Archibald Archibaldovich harshly scolds the doorman for admitting Ivan into Griboyedov's in that state and causing such unrest. The police are called, and Ivan is taken away with a militiaman, Panteley from the buffet, and the poet Ryukhin.

Chapter Six "Schizophrenia, as Said Before"

The doctor enters the examining room of the famed psychiatric clinic outside of Moscow, where Ivan Homeless and the poet Ryukhin are seated. Ivan denounces the poet, whom he calls a kulak, and his saboteur. Ryukhin is quite embarrassed and regrets having gotten involved, trying to help this man who is so disrespecting him.
Ivan tells the doctor in a disorganized and crazed fashion that Berlioz died at the hands of a foreign professor, who was with Pontius Pilate at the time of Jesus' death. He tries to leave but the door is barred, so he then attempts to leap out the window. He is tranquilized with a syringe, and taken to room number 117. The doctor diagnoses Ivan with schizophrenia and alcoholism, and Ryukhin returns to Moscow.

During his journey, he reflects on his career choice, and finds that his poems were doing nothing to bring him glory, and that he hardly even believed what he wrote. He sees a metal statue and things enviously of this mans’ immortal glory. Upon returning home, he is too tired to retell and embellish the tale of Ivan’s institutionalization, as he might have otherwise done, but instead asks Archibald Archibaldovich to pour him a drink as he sits and selfishly reflects on the time he lost trying to help his colleague during this fool’s errand. That time would never be recovered.

Chapter Seven "The Sinister Apartment"

Stepan Bogdanovich Likhodyev, or Styopa, wakes from a drunken night on the town to discover a man seated in his room. The stranger provides him with food, and they both have a drink. Styopa remembers that he had spent the previous night at the summer home of the writer Khustov, but cannot remember who the stranger is.

The stranger explains that he is a professor of black magic, and that Styopa agreed to sign his variety show for seven performances and to advance him a payment of 35,000 roubles. Styopa has no memory this interaction, and then this man, whom the reader knows to be Woland, produces a copy of contract, on which Styopa sees his own characteristic signature. He calls for his housekeeper Grunya, and Woland explains that he sent her off on some errands.

Bewildered, he finds that his roommate Berlioz’s study has been sealed off. He calls his boss, the Variety theater's financial manager Grigory Danilovich Rimsky, and confirms that he signed the contract with Woland. Suddenly, a tall man with a pince-nez and an enormous black cat appear in his flat. It is Koroviev and the tom that Ivan saw earlier. Styopa begins to suspect he is going mad. Woland says Grunya has been sent to Voronezh on vacation.

The threesome tells him that there is no longer room for him in his apartment, and that it will be their space. They chide him for acting in a greedy and underhanded manner, and a fourth man, Azazello joins their company. The cat tells Styopa to “Scat!”, and he falls and hits his head. When he awakes, he is sitting on a jetty in Yalta, many miles away from Moscow.

Chapter 8: "Duel Between the Professor and the Poet"

Just as Styopa loses consciousness in Yalta, Homeless awakens in the hospital. He is reminded of his plight when the nurse attending him mentions foreign tourists, but decides not to tell her about Pontius Pilate. She gives him a bath. As he is led down a hallway, he considers his options, and decides to "withdraw into proud silence." However, he is subjected to many questions and must answer them, then undergo a physical examination.

He eats breakfast and Doctor Stravinsky enters, reminding Ivan of Pontius Pilate in his "air of solemnity" and in that he speaks Latin. He explains the story of Pontius Pilate to Doctor Stravinsky, and tells him all about the mysterious stranger. Doctor Stravinsky humors him, asking him relevant questions, and says he will let Ivan leave if he will simple tell him "I am normal." But as soon as Ivan does so, the Doctor reiterates what happened the previous day, and Ivan must logically conclude that he is, in fact, not normal, and that if he leaves, he will return soon. Ivan decides to stay in the hospital.

Chapter Nine "Koroviev's Antics"

Nikanor Ivanovich Bosoy is the house chairman of No. 302-b Sadovaya Street, where Berlioz lived. He has been dealing with people who claim to have the rights to Berlioz's vacated rooms, and is thoroughly exhausted. He goes to apartment 50, and is surprised to find not Grunya, but Koroviev. He questions Koroviev, saying that nobody is allowed on the premises, and Koroviev says he is the interpreter of "the foreign gentleman who resides in this apartment." Koroviev says that Stepan Bogdanovich Likhodeyev had invited Woland to stay there for a week or so, and that now Likhodeyev is taking a trip to Yalta. In fact, there is a letter in Nikanor Ivanovich's briefcase from Styopa stating exactly that.

With Koroviev's encouragement, Nikanor Ivanovich calls the Intourist Office to get clearance for the foreigner to reside in the vacated apartment 50 for a week, at an exorbitant price, since Koroviev claims Woland is a millionaire. Koroviev continues to encourage greed in the chairman, offering him tickets to the theater and stuffing a bundle of money into his hand.

As soon as he leaves the apartment, a low voice, which the reader can assume belongs to Woland, instructs Koroviev to see to it that Nikanor Ivanovich does not come back. So Koroviev reports Nikanor Ivanovich for speculating in foreign exchange, and having four hundred dollars in the ventilator flue of his toilet. In fact, Nikanor Ivanovich is stuffing the wad of bills into the ventilator flue, and five minutes later his dinner with his wife, Pelageya Antonovna, is interrupted by two citizens searching for the hidden money. Of course, they find it in the ventilator flue.

He tries to deny that the money is his, and even pulls out his briefcase to show the citizens the letter from Styopa, but it has disappeared. He is apprehended, and faints. Meanwhile, Timofey Kondratievich Kvastsoy, a neighbor, is listening at the door. He reports what has happened to the other tenants, "fairly gulping with pleasure" about how Nikanor Ivanovich got what was coming to him. He is beckoned out of the kitchen into the hallway, and disappears with the unknown citizen who beckoned him.

Chapter Ten "News from Yalta"

Grigory Danilovich Rimsky, the financial manager of the Variety Theater, and Ivan Savelievich Varenukha, the house manager, are sitting in the office of the theater at the moment Nikanor Ivanovich is apprehended in his apartment. The head usher delivers playbills announcing Professor Woland's black magic act, and both men admit they have never met Woland himself, though the day before Styopa Likhodeyev had demanded the contract be written up. Now, Rimsky and Varenukha are annoyed that they cannot reach Likhodeyev, and think him to be quite rude.

A woman delivers a telegram that reports Styopa is in Yalta. They assume it must be false, and continue to search for Styopa. But then a second telegram is delivered by the same woman, imploring them to believe that the first one was true; minutes later, a third one offers proof of a signature. They believe it to be a madman or an impostor, but are confused because the writer of the telegrams obviously knew about Woland. But since Styopa had telephoned from his apartment that morning, it is physically impossible that he could already be in Yalta.

Rimsky instructs Varenukha to deliver the telegrams to the authorities. Varenukha decides to call Styopa's apartment again, and this time someone answers; it is Koroviev, and he sounds delighted to talk to Varenukha, telling him that Styopa has gone for a ride in the car out of town. Yet another telegram arrives, this one demanding 500 rubles be wired to Yalta. Though both men think Styopa must have gone crazy, Rimsky plays along and gives the 500 rubles to Varenukha to deliver to the telegram office.
As Varenukha exits, the telephone rings; the nasal voice, belonging to Azazello, instructs him not to take the telegrams anywhere or show them to anyone. He refuses to listen, and continues out to the garden. There, he is accosted by a cat-like man, who is Behemoth in disguise, and Azazello. They begin to beat him, saying he should have listened to the warnings. Then they vanish, and are replaced by Hella, the devil's female companion, who kisses Varenukha.

Chapter Eleven "Ivan Splits into Two"

Ivan is in the hospital, and has been attempting to write a report to the militia about the events that led up to Berlioz's death. However, he keeps getting distracted, and cannot find a proper way to convey his interactions with the devil. Eventually he starts to weep with frustration, and a doctor comes to give him an injection, which subdues him. He is now "pleasantly relaxed," and has a type of conversation with his anxious self, who insists that it makes sense to be upset. A deep voice, that of Woland, calls him a fool, but it does not upset him. Behemoth strolls by and wags a finger at Ivan, who then notices a mysterious man on the balcony.

Chapter Twelve "Black Magic and Its Full Expose"

As the chapter opens, the Giulli family is opening for Woland's act at the Variety Theater, riding bicycles around the stage. Rimsky is in his office, wondering what could have become of Varenukha, who of course never returned. He goes backstage to meet with Woland, and is met by Koroviev, who does a magic trick with Rimsky's watch, and Behemoth, who drinks a glass of water. George Bengalsky, the master of ceremonies, introduces Woland and the show begins.
Koroviev/Fagot starts with some card tricks, which impress the audience. Then he makes money rain down on the entire audience, who scoops it up greedily. Bengalsky attempts to explain it away by calling it "mass hypnosis," and this displeases the audience. Someone shouts out, "Off with his head!" a command that Behemoth the cat takes quite literally. Koroviev/Fagot holds the head until the audience cries for it to be returned to the master of ceremonies, and then Behemoth screws it back on. Bengalsky is physically fine, but is taken away in an ambulance.

Now Koroviev opens a "ladies shop" on the stage, and Hella appears to hawk the different designer clothes and accessories. One woman is brave enough to approach the stage first, and when she is dressed up finely, all the women in the audience rush the stage to trade their own clothes for new, beautiful outfits.
One citizen Arkady Apollonovich Sempleyarov calls out for the trick to be revealed, and says "the audience demands an explanation," although the audience has not demanded any such thing. Koroviev/Fagot asks him where he was last night, and Arkady Apollonovich's wife answers that he was at a meeting. Koroviev/Fagot says that actually, her husband went to visit the actress Militsa Andreyevna Pokobatko, thus revealing the man's affair and causing chaos to erupt. The conductor begins a march, and the characters on stage completely disappear.

Chapter Thirteen “The Hero Appears”

Back in Ivan’s hospital room, the stranger in the window comes inside the room. He tells Ivan that he stole the keys from Praskovya Fyodorovna, and can therefore go out on the balcony. When Ivan introduces himself as the poet Homeless, the visitor begs him not to write any more poems; Ivan promises he won’t, admitting his poems are awful. The visitor listens as Ivan explains the events that led up to his admittance at the mental hospital. He tells Ivan that the mysterious professor was Satan, and that he, too, would like to have a confrontation with him.

The visitor introduces himself to Ivan as “a Master;” he is the Master of the book’s title. He tells Ivan his story: he moved to a small basement apartment and began to write a novel about Pontius Pilate. One day, he encountered a woman carrying “loathsome, disturbing yellow flowers,” very beautiful but with “extraordinary loneliness in her eyes.” It was Margarita; they fell immediately in love, and she became his “secret wife,” even though she was already married.

Though Margarita strongly encouraged the Master to complete his novel, it was received negatively by the editor and received scathing criticism from critics, especially the critic Latunsky. The Master fell into depression, and Margarita also became distraught. One night, he had an emotional breakdown, and Margarita sensed it and came to him; she promised to return in the morning and stay with him forever, but he committed himself to the hospital before she returned. He tells Ivan he hopes she has forgotten him, for he doesn’t want her to suffer being in love with a mentally ill man.

The Master hears something, exits, and returns, reporting to Ivan that a new patient, presumably Bengalsky, has been admitted to room 120, asking for his head back. Before the Master leaves, Ivan asks him what happened to Yeshua and Pilate; however, the Master refuses to talk about his novel, and slips away.

Chapter Fourteen “Hail to the Rooster!”

After Woland’s show, Rimsky watches the chaos outside the theater from the office window: the magic clothes for which the women traded their own clothes have disappeared, and the women are left in their underwear on the street. Rimsky is about to report the incident when the phone rings, and “a low, insinuating, lewd female voice” warns him not to telephone anywhere.

Varenukha enters the office, and Rimsky demands to know why he didn’t report back after going to deliver the letters from Yalta from Likhodeyev. Varenukha begins to unravel an explanation, but it is extremely scandalous, and as he continues, Rimsky realizes he is lying and becomes terrified. He notices that Varenukha is trying to hide his face, to conceal its bruises and “sickly pallor,” and that he casts no shadow.

Varenukha realizes that Rimsky knows something is wrong, and locks the door. As Rimsky backs toward the window, he realizes a naked women is outside it, trying to break in. Just as Rimsky is sure he is about to die, a rooster crows in the garden and the woman curses and flies away, followed by Varenukha. Rimsky, instantly having become an old man from the stress, rushes outside and takes a cab to the train station, where he boards a train and vanishes.

Chapter Fifteen “Nikanor Ivanovich”

Nikanor Ivanovich Bosoy has been committed to room 199 of the same hospital in which Ivan and the Master now reside. He arrived at the hospital after first going to a mysterious “other place,” where he was interrogated fruitlessly. Apartment Number 50 is inspected to no avail. He is brought to Professor Stravinsky’s hospital, where he joins the other anxious patients. Ivan is the last of them to fall asleep, and he begins to dream “that the sun was already setting over Bald Mountain, and the mountain was surrounded by a double cordon…” leading back to the world of Pontius Pilate.

Chapter Sixteen "The Execution"

This chapter begins as the previous chapter ended, indicating that it takes place in Ivan's dream. The procession up Bald Mountain for the execution is taking place, and the heat is unbearable for everyone involved except for Mark Rat-Killer. Matthu Levi has remained behind the legionaries, and watches the execution from beneath a dying fig tree. Earlier, he had desperately tried to break through the soldiers and had run up the hill desperately, but now he sits, defeated. He is tormented because Yeshua is still alive, suffering, and prays for death to be merciful. He feels guilty for having fallen ill and thus not having been able to accompany and protect Yeshua when he went into Yershalayim.

While he had been chasing alongside the cart that carried the condemned, Matthu's plan had been to jump into the cart and kill Yeshua quickly and mercifully. But he didn't have a knife or money to buy one, so he ran back into town and stole a long bread knife from a shop. However, he returned too late to catch the procession, so instead he suffers while he waits for Yeshua to die, cursing God.

A storm is rising. The mysterious cowled man with whom Pilate spoke before the sentencing, who the reader will later learn is named Aphranius, instructs one of the executioners to offer water on a sponge to Yeshua, who asks that a drink also be given to Dismas, who is hung on the second post. After giving the condemned men a drink, the executioner puts them out of their misery by pricking them in the heart with a spear. Aphranius proclaims them dead, and then a downpour begins. Matthu uses the stolen knife to cut all the prisoners down from the posts, and runs off with Yeshua's body.

Chapter Seventeen "A Troubled Day"

Back in Moscow, it is Friday morning, the day after Woland's show. The staff of the variety theater watches the line of ticket buyers grow outside the window. Vasily Stepanovich Lastochkin, the bookkeeper, is in charge since all his superiors have disappeared mysteriously. Investigating officials arrive at the theater with the famous dog Ace of Diamonds, who unfortunately is unable to follow the scent. The commission is unable to track any leads, and at noon, they are still totally mystified. The staff at the Variety Theater is dismissed.

Vasily Stepanovich packs up the money from the previous night's performance, but when he tries to use it to pay for a taxi, the driver indicates that the chervonets customers have been using has turned out to be trick money. Vasily Stepanovich arrives at the Commission on Spectacles and Light Entertainment to report on the previous day’s events, to find Prokhor Petrovich, the chairman of the commission, to have disappeared; only his suit remains, and it is talking and conducting business as usual. His private secretary, Anna Richardovna, is panicking and blames the disappearance on the chairman's constant swearing. She explains that a cat-faced man, Behemoth, had upset Petrovich, who had yelled, "The devil take me!" Behemoth said, "The devil take you? Why not, it can be done!" And the commissioner disappeared.

Since he clearly cannot report anything at the Commission, Vasily Stepanovich decides to walk to its branch office on Vagankovsky Lane. There, he is baffled by the behavior of the staff, who all break out into song at certain intervals. In between bouts of involuntary singing, they beg for help because they cannot control their voices. One young lady explains to Vasily Stepanovich that the director of the branch office had brought in a choirmaster, who, from the description, is clearly Koroviev. Koroviev disappeared, but they continued singing involuntarily. Soon, trucks arrive and take the entire staff of the branch office to Professor Stravinsky's hospital.

A half-hour later, Vasily Stepanovich arrives at the financial office of the Entertainment Sector to turn over the money from the previous night's performance. When he opens the newspaper in which he has wrapped the money, he is taken aback: there is "an array of foreign money" rather than anything useful. He is recognized as "one of those tricksters from the Variety Theater" and put under arrest.

Chapter Eighteen "The Luckless Visitors"

Maxamilian Andreyevich Poplavsky, Berlioz's uncle, is arriving in Moscow from Kiev after receiving a confusing telegram from Berlioz, stating that he had just been run over. Maxamilian Andreyevich hurries to Moscow not to attend his nephew's funeral, but because he is interested in inheriting the now vacant apartment on Sadovaya in Moscow.

He arrives at the office of the house management of No. 302-b Sadovaya on Friday afternoon, but the man who greets him cannot answer him when he asks for the chairman. Another man enters and the two leave together, so Poplavsky heads up to apartment Number 50 himself. There he is greeted by Koroviev, who feigns devastation at Berlioz's death. Behemoth is also there, in the form of a cat, and claims that it was he who sent Poplavsky the telegram. The fact that he speaks totally discombobulates Poplavsky.

Behemoth demands Poplavsky's passport, rejects it, and calls in Azazello, who tells Poplavsky to leave at once. He throws his valise down the stairs, beats him with a huge roast chicken, and throws both Poplavsky and the chicken down the stairs as well. While Poplavsky sits on a bench on the landing, he is passed by a little old man, also headed to apartment Number 50. Poplavsky runs down to the bottom of the stairs and waits; soon, the little old man runs past with a scratched head and wet trousers.

The narrator explains that the little old man is Andrey Fokich Sokov, the bartender and manager of the buffet at the Variety Theater, who had been curious about where Woland was actually staying. Hella greeted him at the door, completely naked, and when he asks to see the artist, she leads him into the bedroom where Woland is lying in his underwear and slippers. Azazello gets Sokov a stool, but it immediately breaks, spilling red wine all over his pants.

The reason he has come is because the fake money that Woland distributed was used at the bar, and put the bar out a lot of money. Woland informs him that he would have no time to use the money anyway, since he will die of liver cancer in nine months. Sokov is obviously spooked by this prediction. And when he pulls out the fake money to prove his point, it appears to actually be real money. He leaves, confused, and soon finds Behemoth to be inside his hat; the cat slashes his head with its claws.
Sokov runs to the office of Professor Kuzmin, one of the best liver doctors in town, to demand that his cancer be removed. Though Kuzmin does not think he actually has cancer, he sends him to a neuropathologist, Professor Boure, to have tests done. Later that night, Kuzmin discovers that the chervontsy Sokov paid him with has turned into labels from wine bottles. Then an orphaned black kitten appears in their place, with a saucer of milk. He asks Ksenia Kikitishna to take away the kitten and saucer.

All of a sudden, a sparrow appears on the desk, doing the fox trot. Kuzmin is about to call Boure to ask him about the meaning of the sparrow, but soon it leaves a dropping in his ink well and flies away. Instead, he phones the department of leeches and orders some. Immediately a woman appears with a bag labeled "leeches." She is terrifying because she has "a man's mouth, crooked, wide to the ears, with a single fang protruding from it," and she speaks in a "male basso." Clearly she is Azazello, Hella, and Woland combined. Two hours later the professor has applied the leeches to his temples (a common treatment) and is being cared for by Professor Boure.
Chapter Nineteen "Margarita"

The narrator introduces the reader to Margarita, who is married to a wealthy, handsome, good man but is nonetheless not in love and very unhappy. After the Master's disappearance, she falls into despair. On Friday, she wakes up a little less depressed than usual because she has a premonition that something will happen that day; she has dreamed of the Master for the first time that winter.

Her husband is away for three days on a business trip, so she has the house to herself. She begins to read through the manuscript of the Master's novel, which was damaged when he tried to burn it. Then she decides to go for a walk, but on her way out Natasha tells her about Woland's show at the Variety Theater. On the bus, Margarita also overhears men talking of the events.

She gets off the bus and sits beneath the Kremlin wall on a bench, mentally begging the Master to get in contact with her. She watches a funeral procession go by, and wonders whose funeral it is. All of a sudden Azazello appears on the bench next to her. He tells her that it is the funeral of Mikhail Alexandrovich Berlioz, as if he can read her mind. He informs her that the head was stolen from Berlioz's coffin, and identifies Latunsky among the mourners.

Then he invites her for a visit, and she naturally suspects that he is insane, especially when he mysteriously knows her full name. She gets up to go, but Azazello quotes the Master's manuscript, enticing her back to the bench. She is completely confused, and asks Azazello whether her beloved is alive. When he confirms for her that the Master is in fact alive, and that he will take her to see a foreigner who can reveal more information about her beloved to her, she agrees to the visit.
Azazello gives Margarita a little box with a magic cream inside, and tells her to rub it all over her body at half-past nine that evening. She sees that the box is made of gold and says that she understands she is being "bribed and drawn into some shady affair for which I'll have to pay a heavy price." Azazello takes her comment for hesitation and demands the cream back, but she assures him she wants to go along with the plan and that she is "ready to go to the devil himself!" Azazello disappears.
Chapter Twenty "Azazello's Cream"

Margarita is now in her bedroom, sitting in a bathrobe waiting for it to be nine-thirty. Finally it is time, and she begins to rub the magic cream, which is yellow and smells like swamp mud, all over her body. As she does, she transforms into a woman with curly black hair, green eyes, and appearing to be about twenty years old. She feels much stronger and weightless physically, and also quite joyful. However, she does recognize the necessity of an explanation to her husband, and leaves him a kind parting note in his study.

Natasha follows her back into the bedroom, completely amazed. The two women hear the arrival of Nikolay Ivanovich, who lives in the lower story of the house. Margarita entices him from her window, but he does not respond to her at all. All of a sudden the telephone rings - it is Azazello, who instructs Margarita to fly out the window and shout, "I am invisible!" to make it so. A broom flies into the bedroom, she mounts it, and flies out over Nikolay Ivanovich, throwing her shift down to him.

Chapter Twenty-one "Flight"

Margarita flies through the city low and silently, learning how to manage the broom and avoid obstacles like wires and cables. She is invisible, and plays a trick on two women arguing in a kitchen by interrupting them. Then she finds Dramlit House, where the hated critic Latunsky lives; she rings the bell but he is not home, so she ends up having to enter by flying through an open window. Acquiring a hammer, she destroys Latunsky's apartment, breaking the piano, the chandelier, and the windows, and flooding the place.

She escapes as the neighbors start to ring the bell, wondering why it is flooding. As people begin to gather in the street outside the Dramlit building, Margarita descends to the window of a four-year-old boy calling for his mother. She comforts him, telling him it's only boys breaking the windows upstairs, with a sling. She becomes bored with the mischief, and flies away, out of Moscow and over many different cities.

Suddenly, Natasha appears in the air next to her, also completely naked and riding a hog, whom Margarita realizes is Nikolay Ivanovich. Natasha tells her how she too rubbed herself with Azazello's cream; when Nikolay Ivanovich appeared at the door to return the shift that Margarita had thrown down on him as she flew out the window, Natasha rubbed it on him, too. But he turned into a hog, and now begs Margarita to convince Natasha to return him to his human form. Soon they both fly away, leaving Margarita alone again.

She lands on a bank and dives into the stream. As she exits the water, she realizes that there is a party going on nearby in her honor. Someone with goat's feet brings her champagne, and she is told that Natasha had already departed for Moscow to announce Margarita's arrival. A car arrives, driven by a rook. Everyone is departing the island for the party in Moscow, and Margarita follows.

Chapter Twenty-two "By Candlelight"

Margarita is let out of the car in "some deserted graveyard in the Dorogomilov district." Azazello emerges and they fly together to Sadovaya No. 302-b, apartment Number 50. It is extremely dark inside, and the pair begins to ascend a seemingly endless staircase, led by Koroviev with a lantern. He introduces himself to Margarita and when she asks him how there is possibly that much space inside the little apartment, he answers that "those who are familiar with the fifth dimension can easily expand a place to the required proportions."

Koroviev explains to Margarita that she is to be the hostess at a ball thrown by "Messire," whom the reader knows to be Woland. She agrees to assume the duties, and follows him into a bedroom. Azazello, Hella, and Woland are all present. The latter is sprawled on the bed in only a dirty nightshirt and slippers. Hella is rubbing salve on one of his knees. Woland and Behemoth are in the midst of a game, and Behemoth emerges dusty from under the bed where he has been looking for a knight. He is all dressed up, and when he senses that the others are making fun of his attire, he sulks.

Woland shows Margarita his magic globe, which reflects the actual world. She sees inside a house where a mother and newborn lie dead, and Woland explains that it is Abaddon's work. Abaddon emerges from a wall, but when she asks him to remove his glasses, Woland says it is impossible. Azazello reports that Natasha and Nikolay Ivanovich have arrived.

Chapter Twenty-three "Satan's Great Ball"

As midnight approaches, Hella, Natasha, and Behemoth help Margarita prepare for the ball. She must wear a "heavy picture of a black poodle in an oval frame, suspended from a heavy chain," which Koroviev explains is necessary, although very uncomfortable. When Behemoth screams, "The ball!!!" they are transported to a tropical forest, through which they emerge into a cool ballroom. There is an orchestra playing a polonaise, conducted by Johann Strauss. In the next hall, a jazz band plays.

They stop at a landing in front of a wine fountain, at the head of a staircase. At midnight, the guests begin to arrive: they leap from coffins that fall out of the fireplace. All the guests are introduced to Margarita, and all committed a heinous crime while they were alive. One of them is Madame Tofana, who helped women kill their husbands and was strangled by jailers. Another of the guests is Frieda, who killed her unwanted baby with a handkerchief, and now, in death, is plagued by the indestructible handkerchief. She throws herself at Margarita's feet, but is carried away. Margarita becomes bored and exhausted, but continues to receive the guests for hours. Then, she flies through the different rooms so that the guests won't feel neglected.

Back in the ballroom, Woland enters still dressed in his nightshirt and limping slightly. Azazello holds the severed head of Mikhail Alexandrovich Berlioz on a platter. Woland reprimands the head for believing that everything ends after death, then transforms it into a chalice. Then Baron Meigel enters; though he is not dead, he has apparently been eavesdropping. Abaddon faces the baron and removes his glasses for a second, something flashes in Azazello's hands, there is "a low sound as if of a single handclap," and the Baron dies. Woland drinks the blood from the wound and is transformed into ball clothes. He offers the glass to Margarita and she, too, drinks the Baron's blood. Then everything dissolves and she is returned to apartment Number 50; she enters through the open door in front of her.

Chapter Twenty-four "Evocation of the Master"

Margarita finds herself back in Woland's bedroom, where nothing has changed since the ball. After drinking what Behemoth offers to her, Margarita feels no trace of exhaustion or intoxication; rather, she is refreshed. As they all eat delicacies, Margarita is informed that Azazello shot Baron Meigel directly in the heart; to prove his skill, Azazello uses a pistol to shoot a particular dot on a particular playing card in a deck, over his shoulder.

As the dinner continues, Margarita begins to feel deceived since she has not yet been reunited with the Master, and says it is time for her to go. Woland tells her to ask him for anything, and she asks for mercy for the tormented Frieda. Woland tells her she can do it herself: Frieda appears at the door, and Margarita tells her the handkerchief will no longer be brought to her. Woland thinks this decision was impractical on Margarita's part, and offers her another chance to ask for something.

This time, Margarita says, "I want my beloved, the Master, to be returned to me at once, this very second." It is done, but when the Master appears he believes he is hallucinating. Koroviev offers him a drink, and after drinking it the Master becomes a bit more coherent. The Master says he knows who Woland is, because Ivan has told him, but is still tempted to believe he is hallucinating. He talks of his novel about Pontius Pilate, and Woland laughs and asks to see it. The Master explains that he burned it, but he is proved wrong when Behemoth produces it.

After the Master reads through the manuscript, Margarita asks that she and the Master be returned to the little apartment in the basement where they stayed together. Woland summons Aloisy Mogarych, who apparently wrote a denunciation of the Master after reading Latunsky's article, and has now moved into the rooms himself. Woland sends him flying out the window, and summarily removes Mogarych's name from the landlord's house registry book.

Natasha enters, begging Margarita to convince Woland and the others to let her remain a witch; it is granted and she disappears. Nikolay Ivanovich enters, returned to human form, and requests a certificate stating where he slept the previous night, to present to his wife. It is done, and he disappears. Next Varenukha enters, saying he no longer wants to be a vampire and would prefer to go home. This wish, too, is granted.

Woland presents Margarita with a "small gold horseshoe covered with diamonds" as a memento, and she puts it into a napkin. They leave, but as they are getting into the waiting car, Margarita realizes she has lost the horseshoe. Annushka, who inadvertently caused Berlioz's death by spilling the sunflower oil, had been awoken by a strange man fleeing the house in his underwear just after midnight. She watched in astonishment as all the visitors of the evening left through the window, and then as Margarita, the Master, and Azazello exited on foot. She found the horseshoe and hid it in her bosom, but a mysterious, white-chested foreigner appears demands it back from her.

Margarita and the Master have been returned to the little basement apartment, with the intact manuscript. Though she is chilled by the idea that this all might be only witchcraft, nothing disappears. The Master sleeps on the sofa while she begins to read from the manuscript.
Chapter Twenty-five "How the Procurator Tried to Save Yehudah of Kerioth"

This chapter exists as the Master's novel as Margarita reads it, having been returned to the basement apartment with her beloved. A hurricane has overtaken Yershalayim, and Pilate is reclining on a couch; he has smashed a jug of wine while yelling at a servant, and the wine is spreading at his feet. The mysterious cowled man, Aphranius, arrives, soaking wet from the downpour. As they drink wine, Pilate talks about how much he hates Yershlayim and his wish to return to Caesarea.

When Pilate asks to hear about the execution, Aphranius reports that Ha-Nozri refused the sponge to drink from on the cross; Pilate calls him a madman. Next Aphranius tells Pilate about Yehudah of Kerioth, and how he was bribed to turn Yeshua in to the police. Pilate tells Aphranius that he has heard that there is a plot to kill Yehudah that night, and that the money paid him will be returned to the High Priest who paid it with a note. He tells Aphranius to "take every precaution for the safety of Yehudah of Kerioth," although he actually intends the opposite: he is instructing Aphranius to arrange for the man's murder. He will wait for news that the bodies of the three prisoners have been taken down, and that Yehudah has been killed.

Chapter Twenty-six "The Burial"

Twilight falls as Pilate lies next to his beloved dog, Banga. Meanwhile, Aphranius begins his errands. He goes to the barracks and instructs the removal of the executed bodies from the hill. Then he goes to the home of a rug merchant and briefly meets with the wife of the household, Niza. She leaves the house soon after he does.
Yehudah hurries through the city. He recognizes Niza and approaches her, asking where she is going since he was supposed to come by later that evening; it is clear she is unfaithful to her husband with both Yehudah and Aphranius. She tells Yehudah that she is taking a walk out of town, and agrees to let Yehudah come with her when he begs. She whispers that he must "go to the olive grove... to Gethsemane," walking behind her.

Yehudah obeys, and makes the journey all the way to Gethsemane. But when he arrives, instead of Niza he is greeted by "a stocky masculine figure" who demands how much money he received from the High Priest. He gives up the thirty tetradrachmas he received, but is killed by another man from behind. Aphranius appears, and makes his way to the bank of the Kidron river. He is met by a man with two horses; he climbs onto one and they ride to the city gates, where the other man leaves Aphranius alone.
Meanwhile, Pilate is finally able to fall asleep. He dreams that he is walking toward the moon with Banga, along with Yeshua Ha-Nozri, with whom he has a philosophical discussion. Yeshua tells him, "Now we shall always be together," and Pilate begs him to remember him. He wakes up to Mark Rat-Killer standing before him, and mumbles in his sleep, "Even at night in the moonlight I have no rest! ...Oh, gods..." Mark merely reports that Aphranius is there.

Aphranius confirms that he was unable to protect Yehudah; really, he means that he was successful in the murder. Aphranius reports the details of the murder: that it took place in the olive grove, and that the assassins threw the bag with the blood money over the fence of the High Priest's palace, in a roundabout way that avoids admitting his involvement. He also reports that Matthu Levi had taken Yeshua's body and hid with it in a cave. They then let him participate in the body's burial; now, he is there in the palace.

Aphranius leaves the Procurator and Matthu appears. He sits on the floor and refuses to eat. Pilate asks to see the parchment on which Levi scribbles as he follows Yeshua around, but he cannot make sense of the words written on it. Pilate offers him money, but he refuses it, and declares that he intends to kill Yehudah of Kerioth. When Pilate tells him that he himself has already killed Yehudah, he becomes upset, but then merely asks for a clean piece of parchment and leaves.
Chapter Twenty-seven "End of Apartment Number 50"

Margarita has finished reading the manuscript; it is dawn, and she is exhausted, but feels perfectly calm, "as though everything was as, indeed, it should have been." At the same time, investigators are looking into the affair at the Variety Theater. Arkady Apollonovich Sempleyarov, chairman of the Acoustical Commission, gives his testimony.

Though the investigators visit apartment Number 50, there is no sign of inhabitants. Kitaitsev, the chief of the program section of the Entertainment Commission, swears that Styopa Likhodeyev had never submitted for approval of Woland's act, and has no explanation as to how it could have been performed at all. Prokhor Petrovich, who has been returned to his suit, also has no idea about Woland. Rimsky was discovered hiding in a hotel closet, but offers no reasonable explanation for the events. One of the investigators visits the hospital of Professor Stravinsky and talks to Ivan. However, Ivan has changed to become indifferent and disinterested.

Stepan Bognanovich Likhodeyev arrives in Moscow by plane at dawn on Saturday, and tells his side of the story before requesting to be placed in a safe cell. Varenukha is questioned, and then he too asks to be locked in a safe cell. Annushka is arrested and tells her story about seeing people flying out of the windows of apartment Number 50. Nikolay Ivanovich is called as another witness, and presents information that leads the police to notice the disappearance of Margarita and Natasha.

At four in the afternoon, a group of policemen arrive at apartment Number 50. Koroviev and Azazello are just finishing breakfast, and comment disinterestedly on the approaching policemen. But when the apartment is broken into, only Behemoth the cat is there, holding a primus stove in his paws, on the mantelpiece. But all their attempts to catch him fail, and a gun fight ensues, in which, miraculously, nobody is injured. Finally, Behemoth escapes out the window, after setting the apartment ablaze. The whole building begins to burn, and as its inhabitants evacuate, some people notice mysterious silhouettes flying out the window of apartment Number 50.

Chapter Twenty-eight "The Last Adventures of Koroviev and Behemoth"

Behemoth and Koroviev appear on the sidewalk outside Griboyedov's. They approach the porch, but are stopped by a pale, bored woman named Sofya Pavlovna, who demands their identification cards. After a confusing conversation, Archibald Archibaldovich appears and tells her to let them in; they make up fake names, and are escorted indoors by Archibald Archibaldovich. He seats them and treats them with special care, since he had heard of them and does not want to upset them. Three men appear with revolvers and open fire at Behemoth and Koroviev's heads, shooting to kill. Instead, the two disappear and Griboyedov's catches on fire, burning to the ground.

Chapter Twenty-nine "The Fate of the Master and Margarita Is Decided"

It is now sunset, and Woland and Azazello are sitting on the stone terrace of a high building. Matthu Levi appears, and says that he has come because "He sent me," without identifying who "He" is. It is clear that he means Yeshua Ha-Nozri, however, since he explains that "I am his disciple." Matthu tells Woland that "He" has read the Master's novel, and asks that Woland take the Master with him and "reward him with peace." When Woland asks him why the Master should not go into the light, Matthu says that he has not earned light, only peace.

Woland agrees to take the Master and Margarita to peace, and instructs Azazello to "Fly over to them and arrange everything." After Azazello leaves, Koroviev and Behemoth appear to Woland. He tells them "there are no more orders now," and that they can rest. They disappear as a storm gathers over Woland.

Chapter Thirty "Time! Time!"

Margarita and the Master are in their basement apartment, discussing the events of the past few days. Azazello appears at the window, and Margarita welcomes him enthusiastically. Azazello says that Woland sent him to ask if they would like to go on a short trip with him, and the two lovers agree. Azazello gives them a bottle of wine as a gift, and says it is the same wine that Pilate was drinking. The wine poisons the Master and Margarita, who collapse, unconscious.

Azazello goes to Margarita's house, where, miraculously, Margarita herself is dying - she is in two places at once. He returns to the basement apartment, where Margarita is changing back to herself from being a witch. Azazello pours some more of the wine into her mouth, and it revives her. Soon the Master is revived, too, and the lovers realize they are dead. Azazello sets fire to the apartment as they run outside and mount the three black horses waiting for them.

They begin to fly on the horses; when they reach Stravinsky's hospital, Azazello says he'll wait for them in a clearing and they enter room 117 from the balcony. The Master introduces Ivan to Margarita and says, "Farewell, my disciple," before they vanish away from Ivan. He calls Praskovya Fyodorovna and asks her what has occurred in room 118. She tells him that the Master has just died, and he is not surprised; he says that he knows a woman has also died somewhere in the city: Margarita.

Chapter Thirty-one "On the Vorobiev Hills"

As the storm clears, Margarita, the Master, and Azazello meet Woland, Koroviev, and Behemoth, also sitting on black horses, on a hill. The Master runs to the edge of the hill to say good-bye to the city; at first he feels "a sense of profound and mortal wrong," but it gives way to "a proud indifference, which in turn was replaced by premonitions of eternal peace." When he returns to the group, they set off into the sky.

Chapter Thirty-two "Forgiveness and Eternal Refuge"

As night falls, Margarita notices that her companions have changed in appearance, as their enchantments fall away. Koroviev-Fagot becomes "a purple knight with a somber, never-smiling face," Behemoth appears as "a slender youth, a demon page, the best jester who had ever existed in the world," Azazello is "in his true shape, the demon of the waterless desert, the killer-demon," and even the Master has changed, now having a white ponytail.

They land on a "flat, rocky, joyless mountaintop," and Margarita can make out the white figure of a man sitting in a chair, seemingly blind, with a huge dog: it is Pilate and Banga. Woland explains that he has been saying over and over again that even in the moonlight he has no rest, and that he has a bad job. He has been unable to ascend the path of moonlight before him for "twelve thousand moons." Margarita begs for his release, but Woland tells her that "he with whom he longs to speak has already asked for him." At Woland's direction, the Master declares to Pilate that he is free. Pilate rises, shouts something, and follows Banga down the path of moonlight.

The Master asks Woland where he and Margarita should go next, and Woland answers, "Oh, thrice romantic Master, don't you want to stroll with your beloved by day under the cherries bursting into bloom, and in the evenings listen to Schubert's music? Won't it be pleasant for you to write with a quill by candlelight? Don’t you want to sit, like Faust, over a retort, hoping to create a new homunculus? There, there is your way! Your house and old servant are already waiting for you." Then he and his companions "plunge into the abyss."

The Master and Margarita see that dawn is arriving, and they walk toward their eternal home, over a little bridge and along a sandy road.


The narrator reports that after Woland left Moscow, rumors echoed throughout the city about the events that happened during this story. But "people of culture and education sided with the viewpoint of the investigating commission: all that had happened was the work of a gang of master hypnotists and ventriloquists." But the culprits cannot be found.

Many innocent black tomcats are captured and shot all over the country. One in particular is arrested in Armavir, and his owner must rush to the militia to defend him and rescue him in the nick of time. Innocent people, too, were apprehended for behaving similarly to Woland or his companions. For example, someone is arrested for trying to entertain strangers with card tricks.

The narrator ironically gives credit to the investigating commission for coming up with bogus explanations for the events caused by Woland and his gang. They explained everything away as trickery and misunderstandings. For example, Behemoth talking as a cat is explained away as ventriloquism. Koroviev is blamed for Berlioz's death, Ivan's madness, and the disappearance of Margarita and Natasha.

Several years have passed, but the memory of the strange events still lingers. George Bengalsky has recovered, but is too spooked to continue working at the Variety Theater. Varenukha has become extremely warm and responsive as a house manager. Styopa Likhodeyev has become manager of a large gastronomic establishment. Rimsky retired from the Variety Theater, and was replaced by Aloisy Mogarych. He annoys Varenukha just as Styopa once annoyed Rimsky. Old Andrey Fokich Sokov died of cancer just as Woland had predicted.

Ivan has become a member of the faculty of the Institute of History and Philosophy, and every year he returns to Patriarch's Ponds on the anniversary of Berlioz's death. Although "He knows that in his younger days he had been a victim of criminal hypnotists, had undergone treatment and had been cured," he still becomes restless under the spring full moon.

He always walks to a certain house and watches "an elderly, respectable-looking man with a goatee, pince-nez and slightly porcine features" sitting on a bench looking at the moon. It is Nikolay Ivanovich, regretting not flying away with Natasha. Ivan watches him and says to himself, "Gods, gods... Another victim of the moon... Yes, another victim, like me..." Nikolay Ivanovich is called inside by his wife, and Ivan too returns home ill.

His poor wife, "tied to a gravely sick man," must give him injections to calm him down. However, he will dream about the world of Pilate and the execution. He dreams of Pilate walking with Yeshua Ha-Nozri, who tells him that he imagined the whole execution, and that in fact it never happened. In his dream, Ivan encounters Margarita and the Master, who assure him that "that was how it ended." Then the moon "bursts into a frenzy," and Ivan sleeps peacefully; he will awake untroubled, until the next full moon. ( )
  bostonwendym | Sep 10, 2016 |
  cloentrelibros | Aug 23, 2016 |
It took me 2 months to read The Master and Margarita, but I’m glad I stuck with it for the enjoyment of completing a difficult task. Also, the book was fun, something I didn’t expect. And of course now I can flatter myself in the bookstore by pointing to it and saying “I read that!”
I’m not Russian. I’ve never been to Russia and the largest segment of Russian culture that I know anything about is classical ballet. I’m not political, so I don’t know much of the political structures that have governed Russia for decades. But I do know that the Master and Margarita is a modern day Russian classic so I read it. I expected it to be a dry, impenetrable task but I wanted to see what the big deal was.
I probably still don’t know what the big deal is, but what a wild ride. There’s a devil who shows up in Moscow one day (God only knows why) and takes over the theatre and all the chaos and hilarity that ensures from that. We’ve got a giant black cat that stands on his hind legs and talks and causes a boatload of trouble. He’s in league with the devil, you see. We have a heroine who flies over Moscow by night on her witch’s broom and her servant girl who rides with her, but on the back of a giant flying pig.
But first, you must make your way past the first 3 chapters. Once you do, I guarantee you’ll be re-reading passages to make sure you read it right the first time. You probably did; this book is as wild as anything Fellini ever put on film and makes Alice in Wonderland look like child’s play. Don’t get bogged down in Pontius Pilate and all of that. It’s temporary and doesn’t take up much of the book.
Magical realism? I don’t know. It’s pretty magical but I don’t think it’s real. Symbolism? Plenty of it: the moon, the color red, naked women, mental hospitals and more. But what it all means is up to the reader to decipher and having read this book once, I know I’ll have to re-read it to glean understanding.
History says Mikhail Bulgakov wrote this during the height of Stalin’s tyranny. For that reason, the book was banned which is a concept that Americans can’t understand. To us, the label “banned book” is an enticement to see what the big deal was. In Stalinist Russia, having your book banned was getting off easy; writers and members of the intelligentsia were often sent off to work camps or killed.
But enough history. The thing is, if you pick up this book, expect to be captivated by chaos and improbability, passages that are truly gothic, and beautiful writing. It’s an outrageous trip. Overall, The Master and Margarita is a love story imagined during a time of great trouble. This book can go as deep as the reader is willing to go, but don’t expect to get it all in the first or third read. You can keep it light and be amazed or take it deeper. If you go deep, please report back to us and share your findings. I know I missed a lot.
Don’t be frightened away from The Master and Margarita. Remember, there’s a giant black cat that walks on hind legs and can’t wait to stir up disaster. How entertaining is that?
  WordMaven | Jul 31, 2016 |
Three intertwined stories swirl and skip through this book. A satire of Russian literary and theatrical life during Stalin’s reign, a reimagining of the second part of Goethe’s Faust set in the same time, and a historical novel about Pontius Pilate written by “the master,” a character in the other two stories.

In Book One, Satan and his minions arrive in Moscow in disguise and create havoc in a series of absurdly silly scenes worthy of the “Monty Python” television series. These pranks so defy logic and commonsense—not to mention dialectical materialism—that everyone who reports them to the police is immediately sent to the psychiatric hospital and locked up.

Book Two introduces Margareta Nikolayevna. Margareta is well off and has a stable and secure life. But she is not happy! What she desperately wants is to be with her lover, the master. Desperate to find him, Margareta accepts the invitation of one of the devil’s minions, thus following in the path of Faust, and swears allegiance to the devil in order to find and free the master.

This is a book filled with delights. It is, by turns, broadly humorous, pensive, skeptical, spiritual, redemptive, and filled with fantastic wonder. It defies any simple category, and is a joy to read.

In the first part of the book Satan visits Moscow during Stalin’s reign in the guise of a magician named Woland, to make mischief among the members of literary and theatrical community. He begins by interrupting a conversation between the “editor of a highbrow literary magazine” and a young poet about the existence of Jesus Christ. The editor who commissioned an anti-religious poem from the poet, is upset because in the poem Jesus appears as a real person, and not as an imaginary mythological construction. Woland interrupts the conversation, and makes a surprising statement. Jesus was a real person. He knows, because he was there when Pontius Pilate interrogated him.

Book Two introduces Margareta Nikolayevna. Unlike the writers and theater managers in Book One, who are constantly scrambling to maintain and improve their status in order to obtain better apartments in Moscow and continue to eat at their club with its excellent restaurant, Margareta is well off and has a stable and secure life. But she is not happy with her life! What she desperately wants is to be with her lover, the master. Unknown to her, the antagonistic reception that the manuscript of his novel has received from the members of the literary establishment has driven him to the same psychiatric hospital where many of them are now resident. Desperate to find him, Margareta accepts the invitation of one of the devil’s minions, and becomes a powerful witch in order to find and free him, and incidentally smash not a few windows in revolt against the conventional life that made her so unhappy. Thus she begins her journey following in the path of Faust as imagined by Goethe, to a Classical Walpurgis Night celebration, updated to the twentieth century. ( )
  MaowangVater | Jul 26, 2016 |
I guess I get why this is on the 1001 list, but it didn't really do that much for me. I read the Burgin and O'Connor translation, which is supposed to be pretty good, and it included annotations by Bulgakov's biographer, Proffer. The annotations were very helpful in understanding the context. I thought the novel within the novel about Pontius Pilate was really interesting. ( )
1 vote LisaMorr | Jul 8, 2016 |
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Hostigado y perseguido, como tantos otros creadores e intelectuales rusos, por sus críticas al sistema soviético, MIJAIL BULGÁKOV (1891-1940) no pudo llegar a ver publicada "El maestro y margarita", que, escrita entre 1929 y su fallecimiento, sólo pudo ver la luz en 1966. Novela de culto, la obra trasciende la mera sátira, si bien genial, de la sociedad soviética de entonces -con su población hambrienta, sus burócratas estúpidos, sus aterrados funcionarios y sus corruptos artistas, cuya sórdida existencia viene a interrumpir la llegada a Moscú del diablo, acompañado de una extravagante corte-, para erigirse en metáfora de la complejidad de la naturaleza humana, así como del eterno combate entre el bien y el mal.
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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
Crepax, MargheritaTranslatorsecondary 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
Franklin, SimonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ginsburg, MirraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glenny, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldstrom, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gradišnik, JanezTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guercetti, EmanuelaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrit, JørgenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heino, Ulla-LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoppe, FelicitasAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Καραγεώργη… ΤίναTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karpelson, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klimowski, AndrzejIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kocić, ZlataTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lacasa Sancha, AmayaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ligny, ClaudeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mäkelä, MarttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morávková, AlenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nitzberg, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Connor, Katherine TiernanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ojamaa, JüriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orlov, VappuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pescada, AntónioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pos, Gert JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prestes, ZoiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prina, Maria SerenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prins, AaiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Proffer, EllendeaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rea, PriitIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reschke, ThomasÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rhind-Tutt, JulianNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schejbal, DanusiaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seabra, Manuel deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Silva, Mario SalvianoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skalaki, KrystynaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strada, VittorioForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stuart, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szőllősy, KláraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ulla-Liisa HeinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vācietis, OjārsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volokhonsky, LarissaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
קריקסונוב, פטרTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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...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”
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.
...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.)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:39 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

One 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 of 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 Margairta, who loves the Master so deeply that she is willing to go to hell for him. What ensues is a novel of inexhaustible energy, humor, and philisophical depth, a work whose nuances emerge for the first time in Diana Burgin's and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor's splendid English version.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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