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The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1966)

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English (274)  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 (316)
Showing 1-5 of 274 (next | show all)
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 |
In light of my university training in Russian literature, I did try to approach this book with an open mind. However, my logical, linear mind was unable to run madly off in all the directions Bulgakov wanted it to. Nothing made sense and I became disengaged from the jumbled plot lines.

( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Review: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

Readers claim you either love the book or you hate it. I had read that it contained a lot of symbolism and allegory to the Stalin Era that it was written in, which I thought would be quite interesting. Well, I guess I fall between loving it and hating it because I feel sometimes I understood it then there were times where I couldn’t make heads or tails out of the story. I have to say some of the content was entertaining but it was hard to put a plot to the novel and I just couldn‘t put a moral principal to the story. It was the most bizarre book I have read in a long time but I still read on….

I might not have liked the writing style and organization but I did enjoy the cast of fun and original characters that Mikhail Bulgakov created, especially Behemoth, the demonic, anthropomorphic cat. The surrounding atmosphere was quite vivid and effective; there was a clear image of a theater setting, the park, the city streets and dirty tenement buildings around a large area of Moscow. I also felt the narration had a small degree element of those classic Russian authors, yet the action was like a 20th century attitude.

This is what I think it’s about…. The devil makes an appearance in Moscow. His aids are two demons, a naked girl and a huge black cat which talks, walks upright, smokes cigars and is a dead shot with an automatic gun. I will say this is where the humor comes in. As far as I can tell, these are the main characters in the story.

Bulgakov establishes the center of Moscow’s as the setting, the behavior of the people is communist prejudice towards outsiders, and it’s a place where state sanctioned atheism should prohibit the devil’s very existence. The author’s creative idea is that the devil visits communist Moscow in a deceptive appearance of a strange professor along with two supporters. Than he touches on the purpose of evil, the division of good and evil, and the political double standard in democracy.

As a result, there are pages and entire chapters where nothing seems to happen. Yes, a guy walks around the streets but the commentary pages in the back of the book patiently explain how the names of the streets and apartments numbers carry important, obscure references to the story that only places me in a confused state once again. So, I read on….
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
When I read books like this, I really want to understand what the author is conveying in his story, that is, what the themes are and how they emerge. With this book, though, I have trouble working them out. Searches online give me a number of themes but don’t link them with any specificity to parts of the novel. So I’m told it’s about greed, but while there are greedy characters in the novel and they get their come-uppance, there are also ones who are so manipulated by Woland or Koroviev that you can’t really say they’re acting of their own accord. So, for example, Nikanor Ivanovich, the chairman of the tenants’ association, rejects the bribe (though obviously tempted) only to find ‘the package jumped into his briefcase of its own accord’.

I’m also left wondering at how Bulgakov wants us to react to Woland, Koroviev Azazello and Behemoth. They do not fit my idea of evil at all, even though online again I’m told one of the themes is good versus evil. The way Woland gives the Master and Margarita peace at the end seems to be considerate to me.

And Margarita herself puzzles me. Despite calling up the devil as several characters before her have done to their cost, she profits from this. And she becomes a witch, drinks blood and knowingly consorts with Satan – are we still supposed to see her in a positive light?

Is this, in fact, so much a period roman-à-clef that you need to know contemporary Russian affairs to be able to appreciate the novel and recognize who represents whom?

And what of the Master’s story which we are led to believe is what actually happened – how does this work? Are we expected to feel some empathy for Pilate? Why the changes to Christ’s story? How can Margarita tell the Master 'I swear by your life, I swear by the astrologer's son you created that all will be well!'

And the humour? Are we meant to laugh at Margaret when she says “’Oh, how glad I am! I've never been so happy in my life! Forgive me, Azazello, for meeting you naked like this.' Azazello begged her not to let it worry her, assuring Margarita that he had not only seen plenty of naked women in his time but even women who had been skinned alive.” In fact, there are a of of throw-away lines making fun of women, Behemoth, for example, preferring all sorts of awful assignments to having to persuade a woman to do something. Or the narrator wondering about Margarita – ‘Would she have saved him? The
idea's absurd . . . but she was a woman - and she was desperate.’

So, I feel I haven’t understood this novel and this has led to a restriction in how much I can appreciate it. ( )
  evening | May 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 274 (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 (39 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bulgakov, Mikhailprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aplin, HughTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arcella, SalvatoreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blomqvist, Lars ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burgin, DianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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Epigraph
...and so who are
you, after all?

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

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

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

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

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

Гете. “Фауст”
Dedication
First words
One hot spring evening, just as the sun was going down, two men appeared at Patriarch’s Ponds.
At the sunset hour of one warm spring day two men were to be seen at Patriarch’s Ponds.
Однажды весною, в час небывало жаркого заката, в Москве, на Патриарших
прудах, появились два гражданина.
Quotations
...manuscripts don’t burn.
Рукописи не горят.
Les manuscrits ne brûlent pas.
what would your good do if evil didn't exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

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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