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Nothing in the whole of literature compares with The Master and Margarita. Full of pungency and wit, this luminous work is Bulgakov's crowning achievement, skilfully blending magical and realistic elements, grotesque situations and major ethical concerns. Written during the darkest period of Stalin's repressive reign and a devastating satire of Soviet life, it combines two distinct yet interwoven parts, one set in contemporary Moscow, the other in ancient Jerusalem, each brimming with incident and with ...
Nothing in the whole of literature compares with The Master and Margarita. Full of pungency and wit, this luminous work is Bulgakov's crowning achievement, skilfully blending magical and realistic elements, grotesque situations and major ethical concerns. Written during the darkest period of Stalin's repressive reign and a devastating satire of Soviet life, it combines two distinct yet interwoven parts, one set in contemporary Moscow, the other in ancient Jerusalem, each brimming with incident and with historical, imaginary, frightful and wonderful characters. Although completed in 1940, The Master and Margarita was not published until 1966 when the first section appeared in the monthly magazine Moskva. Russians everywhere responded enthusiastically to the novel's artistic and spiritual freedom and it was an immediate and enduring success. This new translation has been made from the complete and unabridged Russian text.
“The book is by turns hilarious, mysterious, contemplative,
and poignant . . . A great work.”
“Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita is a soaring, dazzling novel; an extraordinary fusion of wildly disparate elements. It is a concerto played simultaneously on the organ, the bagpipes, and a pennywhistle, while someone sets off fireworks between the players’ feet.”
—NEW YORK TIMES
“Fine, funny, imaginative . . . The Master and Margarita stands squarely in the great Gogolesque tradition of satiric narrative.”
“A wild surrealistic romp . . . Brilliantly flamboyant and outrageous.”
—Joyce Carol Oates
“Sparkling, enchanting, funny, deeply serious and sometimes baffling . . . [The Master and Margarita is] a liberating, exuberant social and political satire combined with a profound moral and political allegory . . . A bravura performance of truly heroic virtuosity, a carnival of the imagination.”
—from the Introduction by Simon Franklin
The Master and Margarita Introduction A Note on the Text and Acknowledgments Further Reading
1. Never Talk with Strangers
2. Pontius Pilate
3. The Seventh Proof
4. The Chase
5. There were Doings at Griboedov's
6. Schizophrenia, as was Said
7. A Naughty Apartment
8. The Combat between the Professor and the Poet
9. Koroviev's Stunts
10. News from Yalta
11. Ivan Splits in Two
12. Black Magic and Its Exposure
13. The Hero Enters
14. Glory to the Cock!
15. Nikanor Ivanovich's Dream
16. The Execution
17. An Unquiet Day
18. Hapless Visitors
20. Azazello's Dream
22. By Candlelight
23. The Great Ball at Satan's
24. The Extraction of the Master
25. How the Procurator Tried to Save Judas of Kiriath
26. The Burial
27. The End of Apartment No. 50
28. The Last Adventures of Koroviev and Behemoth
29. The Fate of the Master and Margarita is Decided
30. It's Time! It's Time!
31. On Sparrow Hills
32. Forgiveness and Eternal Refuge Epilogue Notes
Posted April 13, 2013
I was looking forward to reading this book on my Nook and was sad to find it was not an English translation. It would have been nice if they said so somewhere before l bought it. Nook doesn't offer this book in English so it's off to the public library.
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Posted May 18, 2008
I was born and raised in Russian-speaking country. I love and adore Master and Margarita. But when it came to recommending that read to my American friends it was tough. That is until i opened that one. Take it from a person who speaks both languages, this IS the best translation out there.
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Posted July 20, 2009
About four years, ago I had met a person who is from Russia. We have a common interest in our family's sports. In a conversation one day on good, evil and the temptations that try men's souls; he recommended I read "The Master and Margarita." The first two chapters locked me in. The setting of Pontius Pilate in a private conversation with Christ prior to his execution, was a concept never presented to me before. I would like to believe that such an event occurred. I enjoyed the transitioning in time through out the book. Reading Bulgakov's book has only cemented my thoughts that Hell is real and it exists in our minds. I was surprised at the way Bulgakov presented the Devil (the character Woland). Controlled, not "fire-breathing", an individual with total confidence in his agenda; collecting souls. What I noticed in most of the encounters was the always present "option" presented by Woland through his underlings; to do the right thing or follow the temptation.
I felt no compassion for Margarita. I feel that Margarita and The Master ended up as they were from the beginning; lost souls.
My high point of the book was in the final chapters when Levi delivered Woland(The Devil) the order from Christ on Margarita and The Master. Even the Devil must answer to someone. Good does win out over evil.
This was the first time I ever reviewed a book. I hope you enjoy this book. Thank you for taking the time to read my review.
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Posted July 25, 2000
This is the fourth translation of this absolute masterpiece that I have read. Short of being able to read it in Russian, I have found the perfect translation. Having read the Ginsburg, Tiernen & O'Conner and Glenny translation, this unabridged version is undoubtedly the best. The characters in Woland's retinue are more lively and you get true understanding of each of their personalities. Their notes guide you through the times and names and history which give you a more complete comprehension of the darkest reign of Stalin and Moscow life. The interwoven tales of ancient Jerusalem, comtemporary moscow, and a love story have truly made this novel the ultimate masterpiece. I recommend the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation to appreciate this novel at the highest level.
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Posted August 6, 2009
I Also Recommend:
Great classic novel. I wasn't 100% sure that I would like or enjoy reading this at all, I was wrong~
Getting used to all the "three-barreled Russian names" as other reviewers have stated, is probably the trickiest part of this classic novel!
The author calls characters by their 1st name, then later refers to the same character by his middle and last name, a little confusing at times!
This book has two parts, Part 1 is 168 pages, Part 2 is around 140 pages. Part 1 for me was a little boring, with the exception of the chapter "Black Magic and Its Exposure".
Part 2 is where the book really picks up and turns into a real page turner! "Satan's Great Ball" is arguably the best chapter in the book!
This book has several really, really memorable characters-
Satan, called Woland in the book
Behemoth a mischievous, gun-happy, fast-talking, chess playing, black cat the size of a hog (a very likeable cat and the best character in the book by far)
A great classic novel!
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Posted June 28, 2001
This extraordinary and unique book opens in 1930s Moscow during the darkest period of Stalin's repressive reign. Near Patriarch Ponds, two writers sit on a bench engaged in a discussion regarding the nature of Jesus. True to their times, both writers devoutly discount his existence. As their discourse continues, they are joined by a third man, a well-dressed stranger who claims not only to believe in the existence of the historical Jesus, but to have actually been present at Jesus's trial and crucifixion. Unbeknownst to the two writers, this stranger is none other than Satan, himself, who is now calling himself Woland. The next chapter takes us to Yershalaim (Jerusalem) and Pontius Pilate's interrogation of Yeshua Ha-Nozri (Jesus). Much to Pilate's dismay, Yeshua freely admits to all of the charges brought against him. Pilate, although finding himself captivated by Yeshua and desiring to free him, has no choice but to order his execution instead. Yeshua is sentenced to death and crucified and Pilate grows more and more disturbed. Back in Moscow, things have taken a bizarre turn. When Woland's prediction of the death of the writer Berlioz turns out to be true, another writer, Ivan the Homeless is unceremoniously carted off to an asylum and the esteemed Dr. Stravinsky. As heads roll and people are driven mad, Ivan meets his neighbor in the asylum, one known only as The Master. The Master, also a writer, has been working on a novel centering on Pontius Pilate and the story, not coincidentally, is more than similar to Woland's eyewitness version. Ivan also learns of The Master's love for the beautiful Margarita with whom he shared both an apartment and an affair until the rejection of his novel drove him insane. Margarita, meanwhile, is living in a loveless marriage and spends her days pining away for her lost Master, knowing nothing of his whereabouts. The story then moves back to Yershalaim and Pilate's struggle to come to terms with the death of Yeshua. He is visited by Matthew Levi and subsequently orders the death of Judas of Kiriath (Judas Iscariot) for his betryal of Yeshua. Moving back to Moscow again, we learn the reason for Woland's visit. He wants to give a Grand Ball and is in search of a hostess--a hostess named Margarita. Margarita instantly agrees and the Grand Ball proceeds, apparently lasting for hours and hours with the guests having been chosen from among the most sinful and corrupt of all the deceased. With the dawning of the new day, Woland, who is pleased with Margarita's performance, tells her he will grant her her fondest wish. Of course, that wish is to be reunited with The Master. How this request is accomplished is one of the most extremely inventive passages in all of literature and involves not only Woland, but his wily accomplices (Azazello and Behemoth), Matthew Levi and Pilate, himself. Suffice it to say, all turns out well for all intended and The Master and Margarita eventually come to reside together for all time. In The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov has created, not only a technical masterpiece of flawless writing, but also one of immense creativity, making use of innuendo, iconography, metaphor and satire. This is a multi-layed book, encompassing many themes, drawn with a painstaking commitment to detail. Although, at first glance, the two concurrently running stories seem to bear no relation to each other, a closer examination shows us just how creative Bulgalov was and how great was his genius. As the story of Yeshua and The Master are occurring nearly two thousand years apart, it would seem, on the surface, impossible to link them. Bulgakov, however, forgets this span of years and tells the story by the day and the hour instead. As the Easter weekend unfolds, so do his stories, just as though they were occurring each at the same time but in different locations. Bulgakov did not intend for the story of Yeshua to be of historical significance. Instead, it is used as a device to further the sa
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Posted July 10, 2012
My friend recommended this book to me, and what actually made me to buy it was because he considered it his favorite book of all time. I agree with him about that. It is an amazing book. Not only that, I developed an interest in the author's other works. Nevertheless, this is the best book written by Mikhail Bulgakov. It is an absolute masterpiece, a classic accepted in Russia and the rest of the world.
"MASTER AND MARGARITA" is about purges Stalin ordered in the Soviet Union. The curious thing about this book is that the purges are depicted not to have been carried out Stalin's men, but rather by Satan himself, and in the manner of Baron Munchaussen, we get to know of a huge talking cat. Like animal farm, the greater meaning of the book is revealed through the intelligent though bizarre, compelling and humorous story. One is constantly left anticipating what the next page holds. There are so many layers and so many little details that one wonders how the author managed to put them together.
Bulgakov is the Soviet version of Imperial Russia's Dostoevsky, but unlike Dostoyevsky who had a mastery of the mind/soul Bulgakov mastery is in the literature of oppression. I have recommended this book to many friends and family and recommend it to any reader interested in the enigma that is Russia, especially Stalinist Russia. Other interesting stories set in Russia are THE UNION MOUJIK,TARAS BULBA, PUTIN'S RUSSIA, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF LENIN, WAR AND PEACE. Also note that you are sure to find the widest selection of odd and creepy characters in this book .
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Posted April 30, 2012
The Master and Margarita is truly one of the great novels of the 20th century. Hilarious, lyrical, insightful, and profound; Bulgakov's masterpiece will make you think, make you feel, and make you challenge yourself and your beliefs on good and evil. This page is a little confusing (at one point saying this is the Burgin/O'Connor translation, at another saying it's the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation), so I'll mention that this review refers to the Burgin/O'Connor translation. I've read this translation twice, and I love it. I can't compare it to other translations though, as I haven't read any. I plan on reading the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation soon; I've read several translations by them, and all have been wonderful. One caveat about the Burgin/O'Connor edition: the endnotes, written by Bulgakov's biographer Ellendea Proffer, offer far too much opinion. She should be telling us how to think, and how to feel about this novel. But that doesn't spoil this awe-inspiring novel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 10, 2011
Posted December 17, 2010
I have read several translations and the original of Master and Margarita, in addition to translating a chapter for personal use. This one is the best.
When one reads this translation, it is easy to understand what makes M&M the favorite book of so many Russian-speakers. The prose is simple, yet elegant, full of beautiful irony. This translation keeps endnotes only when they are necessary (in contrast to the Pevear & Volokhonsky version, which eagerly explains every minor reference).
The other translation commonly recommended is the Mirra Ginsburg, which has lovely descriptive prose. However, I feel that translation lacks the humor that is so essential to Bulgakov's work. The dialogues in the Burgin and O'Connor seem more natural, less contrived, and full of wit and humor. Overall, this is an excellent translation.
Posted July 9, 2010
I think if the reader can get through the first 100 pages you'll be ok. I do not see that it is the greatest Russian book of the 20th cent. There are good descriptons of characters and relationships. Bulgakov had issues with the USSR and that may have been because he joined the Whites the conservative reactionary anti-communist pro-tsarist side of the civil war. So of course he was going to get some flak. Thank you.
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Posted May 14, 2010
You are probably thinking "Russian Novel" means a book filled with tragic character and intransigent fatalism. If so, this book will surprise you. It is lyrical, winding you up in a fantastic world of devils and seductresses. It is filled with religious symbolism and has enough literary clout to support literary enthusiasts from book clubs to English masters but it is also engrossing, hard to put down and unlike any other book you have ever read. Go to it with an open mind and eager heart and you won't be disappointed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2010
Friends that I recommend this book to ask me what it's about, and all I can tell them is: everything! It spans a range of subjects, and is an absolutely delightful read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 6, 2010
Posted January 30, 2010
Bugakov manages to pull off a work so meaningful that it has become a part of everyday Russian speech. In its moving and comic scenes, he shows where the evil of man truly originates, and how little control humans exert over their lives despite any illusion that depicts the opposite. The intellectual girth can be measured in the same scale as the works of Dostoevsky, making this a work so profound that it inspires sympathy for the most unlikely of targets. This is truly one of the best stories to be told by a Russian author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 23, 2009
I cannot even BEGIN to describe how much I LOVE this book! It has now become one of my favorites! The first part of the book is a little strange, as it seems to only tell stories of people meeting with a supernatural phenomenon. And yet, throughout all of this, there is still a pattern to be held that keeps you hooked. The second part of the book brings these seemingly miscellaneous characters together, as you realize what must be given for one to be truly happy. I loved it all the way through! DEFINITELY a must-read!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 22, 2009
Satan is one of the main forces in this book, even if, as a character, he doesn't feature as often as the others of his entourage. Still, the characters are delightful in their wickedness, but they aren't evil. Philosophically delightful, Satan and his crazy, hilarious minions are part of the great scheme of things, at odds with Heaven, but simply because that seems to be their function in some ways. They don't act all that badly, and they seem to punish people, when they do, out of sheer fun, or because the person warrants it. And that is how the first half of the book goes: Satan and his retinue wreaking havoc through Moscow, killing people, making them disappear, driving them insane. And then the real hero comes in, and it becomes a sort of love story. Interwoven with the main tale are a few chapters that detail the days of Pilate after he sends Christ off to die on the cross. And, in the end, Satan and Co. play a much more interesting role than simply punishers and tormentors.
It's a lovely little tale, and the end is, for once, a true pay-off.
Posted July 1, 2009
The novel reminds me of the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It was immensely entertaining, but I lack the knowledge and perspective of the historian; I guess I need to know more about Stalinist Russia to appreciate the novel. I'm glad I read it though. It is one of those books that could be read several times and has many levels to it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 18, 2009
The Master and Margarita is a funny, surreal take on 1930s Soviet life. Believe me when I say surreal, I mean it. Along with Satan, his talking human-like cat and other bizarre sidekicks, there are witches, mental patients, and quite a few imaginary and strange happenings. Satan goes on a series of terrible crimes upon entering Moscow and much of the novel seems to be his almost pointless transgressions against the humanity of the people there. The plot consists of several different stories that come together nicely near the end of the novel. It's strange, however, how the title characters aren't even mentioned until well over a hundred pages into the novel, and not nearly enough time is devoted to them. The majority of the novel, as I said, is devoted to watching the Devil as he goes about destroying people's lives. Though this is entertaining at the beginning, by the end of the novel, his and his henchman's antics become excruciatingly boring. There are flashbacks to Jesus's interaction with Pontius Pilate and crucifixion which are very good and important to the meaning of the novel as a whole. After finishing the book I find that its greatest moment comes from a conversation between the Master and the poet Ivan Homeless in a mental asylum. Though the book has many strong and encoded messages on Soviet life and humanity, an excellent ending, and funny characters; the passage of Ivan Homeless and the Master meeting for the first time is by far the most aesthetically beautiful in the book.
Overall a very good book, though not the masterpiece as many would have you believe it is.
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Posted February 9, 2007
Even the most complementary words would not do justice to Bulgakov¿s creation. A work of a true genius, which puts Bulgakov among such Russian greats as Lomonosov, Pushkin, Mendeleev, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. As I read the reviews, I realized that I was not the only person who read this book multiple times, each time finding it to be different, but inevitably brilliant. It is always gripping, dramatic, funny, full of irresistible characters, scary at times, but always hopeful. To me, it¿s also always been a book about Moscow, as the city is one of the key characters in the book. In my view, this translation is the best one to date. It captures Bulgakov¿s unique literary sonorities, and peculiar details of the 1930s Soviet Union. Highly recommend.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.