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The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita (original 1966; edition 1996)

by Mikhail Bulgakov, Diana Burgin (Translator), Katherine Tiernan O'Connor (Translator)

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12,543287192 (4.26)6 / 768
Title:The Master and Margarita
Authors:Mikhail Bulgakov
Other authors:Diana Burgin (Translator), Katherine Tiernan O'Connor (Translator)
Info:Vintage (1996), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1966)

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  2. 146
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Mouseear)
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    The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol by Nikolai Gogol (BGP, ateolf)
  7. 30
    Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (WSB7)
    WSB7: You will recognize many parallels as you read, and also consider that Bulgakov revised his work too over many years.
  8. 96
    The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (markusnenadovus)
    markusnenadovus: Older Russian literature
  9. 20
    The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain (SCPeterson)
    SCPeterson: Another tale where the devil shows up as a device to reveal and transcend the normality of "imposed terror".
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    Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett (raudakind)
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  15. 22
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  16. 00
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    aethercowboy: Woland and the gentleman with thistle-down hair are very similar.
  17. 33
    My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (BGP)
  18. 00
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  19. 01
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(see all 23 recommendations)


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English (247)  Italian (11)  French (10)  Dutch (4)  Finnish (4)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Czech (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (287)
Showing 1-5 of 247 (next | show all)
Freaking amazing! Don't give up on it. The ending wraps everything together. This book is like Alice In Wonderland set in Moscow, but without children. ( )
  BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
In the midst of all the devilish mischief in the first part I started to flag, which makes me think I'm not going to be a great fit for hell.
But I loved the background of this book, the introduction from Simon Franklin in the Everyman's Library edition, in the oppressive artistic environment of early twentieth century Russia. The set pieces of different surreal events where the devil visits the people of Moscow are entertaining, peppered with hints of the story to come in the second half, of the master and Margarita and the master's burned novel about Pontius Pilate. The swirling confusion that accompanies the devil's visit to town is perhaps too well realized for me, since, like Margarita at the devil's night in the second half, I started to get worn out from all the visitors attending the ball.
The book lights on fire when have the one, two threads that drive the second half to the end, when Margarita, the master's lover, tries to track down her disappeared lover and winds up enlisting the help of the devil (or he enlists her help for his own ends).
The devil's companions, Behemoth and Koroviev and the rest get more of the stage to themselves and their antics, which are even more entertaining when they are stuck together, without humans to distract them -- a great bit of slapstick and nonsense. The chess match between Behemoth, the cat, and Woland, the devil, in which Behemoth attempts to stall his inevitable defeat by searching beneath the bed for his knight is a riot, even more so because this is Margarita's first time meeting the man, himself.
I loved the way Bulgakov wrapped the stories, transitioned from one chapter to the next (often by repeating the final phrasing from the previous chapter), and even the multiple endings that match the ending to the master's own manuscript, which no one but Margarita has been able to read, since he burned it up, failing to get a publisher (oh, a familiar feeling). And the recurring revelation of the story of Pontius Pilate and Matthew the Levite, Judas, and Jesus is really well-managed and compelling. ( )
  mhanlon | Nov 18, 2015 |
A wide-ranging story of the Devil's appearance in Moscow. ( )
  tjsween | Oct 31, 2015 |
How does a novel involving gruesome, gratuitous violence and outlandishly theatrical plots manage to be so informative about - without ever directly addressing - the social issues of 1930s Russia whilst exploring a billion other themes? I suppose when it takes eleven years to write and revise, all of which had to be done in secret and under the risk of arrest and worse.

Lest you think that the book is serious and heavy literature - which it can be -, it is also hilariously funny and absurd as it subtly and casually hints and acknowledges the daily terror and oppression in 1930s USSR. I felt as if I gained an insight into the mentality of its citizens during this era despite not knowing much about the Soviet history.

This multifaceted work is essentially a collection of interesting and meaningful short stories, woven together to be a treatise on a wide range of topics such as philosophy, religion, human greed and cowardice, and many others. An excellent introduction to Russian literature and its 1930s psyche.

Aside: as this is my first Russian novel - I feel I have started with one of the best and everything else will be downhill from here on -, I recorded most of the Russian names in a graph with edges indicating a relationship or meeting. The graph impressed upon me how the author connected all these characters naturally. My Glenny edition comes with notes for each chapter which I read after reading every chapter, as well as an afterword.

Double Aside: Here is how reading this book can change your life. ( )
  kitzyl | Oct 5, 2015 |
The devil in the guise of a professor and his cronies decide to take a field trip to Stalinist Russia and all hell breaks loose. Meanwhile, The Master is languishing in Moscow's state-of-the-art mental institution after his magnum opus, a historical novel about Pilate, is met with derision by the literary powers before it even hits the press. And, somewhere else in Moscow the love of his life is pining for him. Throw in a few side trips to Jerusalem on the last day of Christ's life, and you have a tumble-jumble, hurdy-gurdy, giddy satire of life in Moscow circa the 1930s. People lose their heads, figuratively and literally. Some regain their heads, figuratively and literally. Some don't. Satan's retinue is a madcap, vicious crew, which includes his cat, Behemoth, a boozy, chess-playing, sarcastic pill. Old Nick himself though is not entirely without a heart. There are big themes here-corruption of all manners, the taint of cowardice, eternal love, the perils of trying to mandate godlessness. The Master and Margarita is not so much a book as an event.
In a perfect world I would give this 4-1/2 stars. It has problems, mainly in that it gets a tiny bit tedious in parts. ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 247 (next | show all)
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.
added by pacocillero | editcontraportada de la edición

» Add other authors (60 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bulgakov, Mikhailprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volokhonsky, LarissaTranslatormain authorsome 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, MarkoAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fondse, MarkoTranslatorsecondary 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
Lacasa, AmayaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Larissa VolokhonskyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ligny, ClaudeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mäkelä, MarttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morávková, AlenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nitzberg, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nitzberg, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Connor, Katherine TiernanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Conner, Katherine TiernanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ojamaa, JüriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orlando FigesIntroductionsecondary 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
Sancha, Amaya LacasaTranslatorsecondary 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
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.
Op een broeihete lentedag daagden omtrent zonsondergang twee burgers op in het park rond de Patriarchvijver.
...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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:39 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The novel's vision of Soviet life in the 1930s is so ferociously accurate that it could not be published during its author's lifetime and appeared only in a censored edition in the 1960s. Its truths are so enduring that its language has become part of the common Russian speech. 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 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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Editions: 0141188286, 0140455469

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