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James Davis has commented on (2) products.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Master and Margarita

James Davis, January 1, 2012

I’ve heard a lot of raves about Bulgakov’s masterpiece over the years and have had it on my to-read list for a long time waiting for the Folio Society to publish it. They finally have and I heartily recommend the edition: the new translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky and wonderful illustrations by Peter Suart and a nice introduction by the not-so-nice Orlando Figes. Whatever the edition, you need to check out this book.

This is a Faustian adventure set in Stalin’s Moscow and Jerusalem at the time of Jesus Christ. The devil and his retinue come to Moscow with their back of tricks and hijinx that Bulgakov uses masterfully to illustrate both life under Stalin for everyone and the life of a writer under Stalin’s censors. The author uses the parallel story lines of the devil’s visit to Moscow, Pontius Pilate and Jesus, and the Master and the Margarita to create a brilliant satire of Stalinist life. “Manuscripts don’t burn…” but sometimes they need to be hidden in a drawer for thirty years after your death. Even then, it seems a miracle that this book ever got published.

I love Bugakov’s introduction of his heroine:
“Margarita Nikolaevna was not in need of money. Margarita Nikolaevna could buy whatever she liked. Among her husband’s acquaintances there were some interesting people. Margarita Nikolaevna had never touched a primus stove. Margarita Nikolaevna knew nothing of the horrors of life in a communal apartment. In short…she was happy? Not for one minute! Never, since the age of nineteen, when she had married and wound up in this house, had she known any happiness. Gods, my gods! What, then did this woman need?! What did this woman need, in whose eyes there always burned some enigmatic little fire? What did she need, this witch with a slight cast in one eye, who had adorned herself with mimosa that time in the spring? I don not know. I have no idea. Obviously she was telling the truth, she needed him, the master, and not at all some Gothic mansion, not a private garden, not money. She loved him, she was telling the truth.”
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Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Love in the Time of Cholera

James Davis, January 1, 2010

This is the best book I have read this decade from an overall enjoyment standpoint. Easy enough to read, some hilarious situations, magical realism without the confusion of names like in "100 Years of Solitude", and no slogging through parts like happens in some of the other novels I considered for top read of the decade. This decade was one of discovery in that I learned there is a lot more to American Literature than that written in the U.S.A. I'll be delving into the rich literature of Central and South America for another decade at least.
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