The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita

4.1 103
by Mikhail Bulgakov

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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…  See more details below


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.
Joyce Carol Oates
A wild surrealistic romp…. Brilliantly flamboyant and outrageous.
The Detroit News
From the Publisher

“A wild surrealistic romp. . . . Brilliantly flamboyant and outrageous.” —Joyce Carol Oates, The Detroit News

“This dark, absurd, and subversive treasure lay hidden for many years, even after Bulgakov’s death, such was the fear of reprisal for such a pointed, authentic stab at life under the tyrannical malevolence of Uncle Joe and the withering Soviet climate of the time.” —Johnny Depp, “My Essentials” in Entertainment Weekly’s “Best of the Decade” issue (December 11, 2009)

“Fine, funny, imaginative . . . . The Master and Margarita stands squarely in the great Gogolesque tradition of satiric narrative.” —Saul Maloff, Newsweek

“The book is by turns hilarious, mysterious, contemplative and poignant. . . . A great work.” —Chicago Tribune

“Magnificent . . . a gloriously ironic gothic masterpiece . . . had me rapt with bliss.” —Patrick McGrath, Guardian (UK)

“Funny, devilish, brilliant satire . . . It’s literature of the highest order and . . . it will deliver a full measure of enjoyment and enlightenment.” —Publishers Weekly

“A rich, funny, moving and bitter novel . . . . Vast and boisterous entertainment.” —The New York Times

“A classic of twentieth-century fiction.” —The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.16(w) x 7.93(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“My favorite novel—it’s just the greatest explosion of imagination, craziness, satire, humor, and heart.” —Daniel Radcliffe

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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The Master and Margarita (Pevear / Volokhonsky Translation) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 103 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Hirlau More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Chicago_Nook More than 1 year ago
THIS IS IN RUSSIAN! Really disappointed that it didn't tell me that before I bought it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 .
SavageBS More than 1 year ago
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!
PLC-PA More than 1 year ago
Warning! The listings and comments for NOOK editions are misleading, at least with "The Master and Margarita". The [NOOK Book] by Mikhail Bulgakov, Edward Kemp is not the novel, but Kemp's adaptation (play). The "Overview" references and credits Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, but this is NOT their translation of the novel. I had no intention of getting the play version, so for me this is a non-refundable waste of money.
TheBirdCop More than 1 year ago
Such a terrible waste of resources. Do not read this book if you value your time.
jane_eyre_ More than 1 year ago
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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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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