The Master and Margarita

( 103 )

Overview

Mikhail Bulgakov's devastating satire of Soviet life was written during the darkest period of Stalin's regime. Combining two distinct yet interwoven parts-one set in ancient Jerusalem, one in contemporary Moscow-the novel veers from moods of wild theatricality with violent storms, vampire attacks, and a Satanic ball; to such somber scenes as the meeting of Pilate and Yeshua, and the murder of Judas in the moonlit garden of Gethsemane; to the substanceless, circus-like reality of Moscow. Its central characters, ...
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The Master and Margarita

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Overview

Mikhail Bulgakov's devastating satire of Soviet life was written during the darkest period of Stalin's regime. Combining two distinct yet interwoven parts-one set in ancient Jerusalem, one in contemporary Moscow-the novel veers from moods of wild theatricality with violent storms, vampire attacks, and a Satanic ball; to such somber scenes as the meeting of Pilate and Yeshua, and the murder of Judas in the moonlit garden of Gethsemane; to the substanceless, circus-like reality of Moscow. Its central characters, Woland (Satan) and his retinue-including the vodka-drinking, black cat, Behemoth; the poet, Ivan Homeless; Pontius Pilate; and a writer known only as The Master, and his passionate companion, Margarita-exist in a world that blends fantasy and chilling realism, an artful collage of grostesqueries, dark comedy, and timeless ethical questions.

Although completed in 1940, The Master and Margarita was not published in Moscow until 1966, when the first part appeared in the magazine Moskva. It was an immediate and enduring success: Audiences responded with great enthusiasm to its expression of artistic and spiritual freedom. This new translation has been created from the complete and unabridged Russian texts.

Author Bio: Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940) was described in the official Big Soviet Encyclopedia as a slanderer of Soviet reality. A medical doctor, he gave up his practice to pursue his writing. Stalin named Bulgakov the assistant director of the Moscow Arts Theater, where his actions were monitored. He died in disgrace.

Richard Pevear, born in Waltham, Massachusetts, and his wife, Larissa Volokhonsky, born in Leningrad, have translated from the Russian many works including Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, for which they won the PEN/Book of the Month Club Translation prize.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bulgakov's satire of the greed and corruption of Soviet authorities illustrates the redemptive nature of art and faith, and Julian Rhind-Tutt's superb interpretation does the classic full justice. With a dramatic flair and a deep, multilayered voice, he pulls off a host of fantastical characters including Professor Woland (Satan) and several of his associates, Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ, witches and madmen and a variety of early 20th-century Moscow literary and theater types. Two minor caveats: a few characterizations are too nasal, and his cockney accents for low-class Russian characters are a bit disconcerting. (June)
Saul Maloff
Fine, funny, imaginative…. The Master and Margarita stands squarely in the great Gogolesque tradition of satiric narrative.
Newsweek
Joyce Carol Oates
A wild surrealistic romp…. Brilliantly flamboyant and outrageous.
The Detroit News
From the Publisher
“My favorite novel—it’s just the greatest explosion of imagination, craziness, satire, humor, and heart.” —Daniel Radcliffe
From Barnes & Noble
One of the greatest novels ever to come out of the Soviet Union. A parable on power and its corruption, on good and evil and on human frailty and the strength of love. Equal parts fable, fantasy, political satire and slapstick. "A rich, funny, moving and bitter novel."
-- The New York Times.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679760801
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Annotated
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 40,920
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Mikhail Bulgakov (1891–1940) was a doctor, a novelist, a playwright, a short-story writer, and the assistant director of the Moscow Arts Theater. His body of work includes The White Guard, The Fatal Eggs, Heart of a Dog, and his masterpiece, The Master and Margarita, published more than twenty-five years after his death and cited as an inspiration for Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have produced acclaimed translations of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gogol, and Bulgakov. Their translation of The Brothers Karamazov won the 1991 PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize. They are married and live in Paris, France.

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Table of Contents

The Master and MargaritaIntroduction
A Note on the Text and Acknowledgments
Further Reading

BOOK ONE
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

BOOK TWO
19. Margarita
20. Azazello's Dream
21. Flight
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

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

Why would the devil pay a visit to a contemporary city, and what sort of business would he conduct there? What seems a fanciful premise was perhaps less so for a persecuted writer in the Soviet Union under Stalin. Mikhail Bulgakov completed his novel The Master and Margarita just before his death in 1940, but it remained officially unpublished until 1966, whereupon it achieved the status of an underground masterpiece.

In the book's first chapter, the devil appears briefly to Berlioz, a literary magazine editor, as "a transparent citizen," a "phantasm" (p. 8) that disappears after Berlioz closes and opens his eyes. Then, in the midst of a conversation between Berlioz and Ivan, a poet, about whether Jesus was real or fictitious, the devil appears to both of them and joins their conversation, looking only unusual enough to be thought "a foreigner" (p. 10). He is troubled by their atheism and their corresponding belief that humans determine their own fate. Besides assuring them that Jesus did in fact exist, the devil predicts the precise manner in which Berlioz will die, and he turns out to be right. Slipping on spilled sunflower oil in the third chapter, Berlioz falls onto the rails of an oncoming tram-car, which severs his head. From this beginning, we might assume that Woland (the name Bulgakov eventually gives the devil) will perpetrate evil and, while he is at it, prove the powerlessness of humans to predict or control the future. But the novel's epigraph, from Goethe's Faust, has prepared us for something else; it is a question asked by Faust, answered by Mephistopheles: " '...who are you, then?'/'I am part of that power which eternally/wills evil and eternally works good.' "

Insofar as Woland's evil manifests itself in the sudden, menacing disappearance of various characters, as well as the deaths of Berlioz and Baron Meigel, he inevitably reminds us of how Stalin dealt with actual and potential political enemies. But Woland is also a force for good, as evidenced by his orchestration of the reunion of the novel's other central figuresthe master, an unnamed novelist whose manuscript has been publicly denounced and denied publication, and Margarita, his married lover. Moral ambiguity is central to the novel. As Woland says to Matthew Levi, "what would your good do if evil did not exist, and what would the earth look like if shadows disappeared from it?" (p. 360).

The interconnectedness of opposing ideas or concepts, frequently demonstrated by strange reversals, is one of the principles upon which the novel is constructed. Near the middle of the book, the personal secretary for the head of the Commission on Spectacles and Entertainment of the Lighter Type describes an encounter between her boss, Prokhor Petrovich, and Koroviev, one of Woland's retinue. Annoyed by Koroviev's assertiveness, Petrovich quickly loses patience, shouting, "What is all this? Get him out of here, devil take me!" Koroviev is only too happy to oblige: "Devil take you? That, in fact, can be done!" (p. 189). Petrovich is thereafter nothing but a suit, though one which continues to go about Petrovich's business and speak with his voice. This incident is but one example of a running joke in the novelits characters invoke the devil in a figure of speech, only to have their words make even more literal than figurative sense. Like all deeply funny jokes, this one is in the service of a serious idea. The distinctions we draw between the literal and the figurativeor between good and evil, real and imagined, life and death, art and reality, the material world and the spiritual worldhave a certain kind of utility. They bring order to the randomness and chaos of personal experience. But they also limit our sense of what is possible. What Bulgakov's novel suggests is that when order is imposed externallysuch as the extreme measures employed by Woland to emphasize human powerlessness or by Stalin to maintain political powerthe personal experience of those upon whom order is imposed becomes so detached from reality that the feeling of randomness and chaos is heightened, not reduced.

If Woland, despite his resemblance to Stalin, is too complex to fit inside a simple framework of good and evil, so too are the master and Margarita. It may be tempting to see the master as a representation of the pure artist made to suffer in an environment that can accommodate neither him nor his art. But we are given to understand, though indirectly, that Yeshua (the name given to Jesus in the master's manuscript) considered cowardice among the worst of vices, and we must ask if it is not cowardice that causes the master to try to burn his manuscript. Also, when considering what the master's fate will be, Woland agrees with Matthew Levi's assessment that the master "does not deserve the light, he deserves peace" (p. 361). Is peace a greater or lesser reward than light?

Margarita is even more complicated. Though her husband is "young, handsome, kind, honest, and adore[s] his wife" (p. 217), only the master makes her happy. It's never entirely clear whether Woland or the police are responsible for the master's disappearance, but a member of Woland's retinue, Azazello, offers to reunite them if Margarita will agree to become a witch and host Woland's ball. Woland's power frightens her, but she alone among the novel's characters uses it for her ownoften altruisticends. Perhaps the most striking example is Margarita's request, when Woland offers her a reward for hosting the ball, that Frieda be released from her eternal torment, the nightly appearance of the handkerchief with which she suffocated her baby. Unlike Faust, Margarita is happy to have made her bargain with Woland; when she wakes up the morning after the ball back in the natural world, everything is "as if it ought to have been so" (p. 331). Is it her love, albeit adulterous, for the master that prevails? Is it her commitment to the value of his art? Since she and the master leave this world at the end of the novel, what kind of triumph does she achieve?

In a sense, Bulgakov's novel follows them. The final chapter concludes in the supernatural world, and the epilogue concludes in the novel's material world. But both ultimately end with the last sentence of the master's manuscript, as if to suggest that only in art do we ever find complete resolution. Throughout the novel, Bulgakov has exploited art's capacity to represent the unassimilable, the unfathomable, the illogical. At the same time, he reminds us of its related capacity to fulfill dreams. The results elicit terror, laughter, sadness, and wonder.

ABOUT MIKHAIL BULGAKOV

Born in 1891 in Kiev, now the capital of Ukraine, Mikhail Bulgakov studied medicine at Kiev University, practicing briefly before being drafted by the Whites (anti-Bolsheviks) in 1918 as a field doctor. He was sent to the Caucasus, where, after leaving the military, he began working as a journalist. Along with humorous sketches, Bulgakov wrote White Guard (1924), an autobiographical novel about his experience in the civil war and one of the first serious works of literature on the subject. The Days of the Turbins (1926), a play based on White Guard, was supposedly one of Joseph Stalin's favorites and helped establish Bulgakov as one of Russia's preeminent playwrights.

However, the reaction of the press to Bulgakov's plays in an ever more ideologically rigid society was hostile, and all of his plays were banned in 1929. He wrote to the government about his plight, and Stalin replied, sending him to work at the Moscow Art Theatre. Bulgakov adapted Gogol's Dead Souls and Cervantes' Don Quixote for the stage, but he also wrote plays about Moliére and Pushkin that portrayed the conflict between artists and repressive governments. His works were usually banned once they began public performances, and so Bulgakov took a position as a librettist with the Bolshoi Opera in 1936. In 1939, he attempted a return to drama, as well as the good graces of the Soviet authorities, by writing Batum, a play about Stalin's early years as a revolutionary, but it was banned before rehearsals started.

Bulgakov began working on The Master and Margarita, his masterpiece, as early as 1928; he dictated the final revisions weeks before his death in 1940. In 1932, he married his third wife, Elena Sergeevna, thought to be a model for Margarita. Bulgakov knew he could never publish such a subversive novel during his lifetime. The existence of the manuscript was unknown to all but a small group of people until Moskva, a monthly magazine, finally published it, heavily censored, in two parts in 1966 and 1967.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Why does Woland come to Moscow? Why does he give a public performance at the Variety Theater?
     
  • Why is Woland the instrument of Margarita's kindness toward Frieda and the master?
     
  • When Woland sees Margarita's compassion for Pilate, why does he tell her, "Everything will turn out right, the world is built on that"? (p. 382)
     
  • Why has the master earned peace, but not light?
     
  • Why does Pilate dream that he is involved in an "interesting and endless" argument with Yeshua, "this philosopher, who had thought up such an incredibly absurd thing as that all men are good," and that Yeshua's execution never took place? (p. 319)
     
  • Why must Margarita become a witch and host Woland's ball in order to rescue and be reunited with the master?
     
  • Why does Margarita become devoted to the master's novel?
     
  • Why is the story of Pontius Pilate presented as not only written by the master, but also told by Woland, dreamed by Ivan, and read by Margarita?
     
  • When Woland asks what she wants, why does Margarita choose to free Frieda from her punishment?
     
  • Why must the master and Margarita leave the material world at the end of the novel?
     
  • Why does Woland insist, against the beliefs of Berlioz and Ivan, that Jesus really existed?
     
  • When Nikanor Ivanovich dreams that he is being interrogated, why does interrogation take the form of a number in a stage production?
     
  • Why is the master's real name never revealed?

  • FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
  • To what extent do individuals control their own fate?
     
  • Would acts of goodness have the same meaning in the absence of acts of evil?
     
  • What are the similarities between religious and aesthetic experience?

  • RELATED TITLES

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust (1808, 1832)
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Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls (1842)
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 103 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(70)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 103 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2013

    Dissapointed

    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.

    17 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Window Into Our Souls ? Maybe !

    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.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2013

    This has nothing to do with the book, but with B&N scheme ,

    This has nothing to do with the book, but with B&N scheme , or lack of honesty. Where does it says the book is in Russian? Credit my money back or I will never visit this place again.
    And you force me to give one star?

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2013

    Everyone thinks it's the best translation - the Nook version is

    Everyone thinks it's the best translation - the Nook version is in Russian, so there is no translation!  Very disappointing since the type in the English print version is uncomfortably small for these old eyes.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 4, 2013

    THIS IS IN RUSSIAN! Really disappointed that it didn't tell me t

    THIS IS IN RUSSIAN! Really disappointed that it didn't tell me that before I bought it!!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2008

    Best Translation

    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.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    Not in English

    I would have liked to have been informed in the description that this ebook was in a language other than English. Why was the description and whatnot written in English but not the book it was describing? Bizarre.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2001

    Absolutely One of a Kind

    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

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2000

    The Best Translation Yet!

    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.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Devil & friends visit Moscow!

    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!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2014

    Hey, if the text of the book is not in English please do not off

    Hey, if the text of the book is not in English please do not offer a description in English either.  Not everyone who can read English can read Russian.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2012

    My friend recommended this book to me, and what actually made me

    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 .

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2014

    Such a terrible waste of resources. Do not read this book if you

    Such a terrible waste of resources. Do not read this book if you value your time.

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  • Posted September 14, 2014

    This book is hilarious and entertaining all the way through! It

    This book is hilarious and entertaining all the way through! It is a bit tough to keep up with the names of so many characters, but after a while you know each of them well! If you notice, the only reason this book is rated 4 stars and not 5 is because people are posting that the nook version is in Russian. The English translation, however is incredible! 5/5! 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    I bought this and found out it was in Russian not English....BN

    I bought this and found out it was in Russian not English....BN does not state that it isn't in English...Can i return it?? Probably not

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  • Posted April 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Master and Margarita is truly one of the great novels of the

    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.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2011

    My all time favorite!

    Read it many times in Polish and looking forward to reading it in English for the first time. Thanks B&N for having it!

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  • Posted December 17, 2010

    An Excellent Translation of an Excellent Book

    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.

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  • Posted July 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Strange read...magical realism?

    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.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Magical and Russian

    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.

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