Joel Buck, January 2, 2012 (view all comments by Joel Buck)
Everyone knows Anna Karenina, War & Peace, Brothers Karamazov and Crime & Punishment; Master and Margarita rarely gets mentioned alongside these and in reality it tops them all. This is a brilliant book with a wicked sense of fun, historically significant and thematically rich. Everyone should read this book!
joanne gholston, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by joanne gholston)
Written in the '20s and '30s in the Soviet Union, under great state control. Very controversial and actually surprising that it was ever published. Combination of fairy tale and political statement. Very worthwhile reading.
As far as the Master and Margarita itself goes, it is one of the most important books to come out of Soviet Russia. It is a biting & humorous political commentary shrouded in a complex and fantastic story filled with ridiculous and fascinating characters. However, out of all the translations of this book to be chosen for a staff pick, the Mirra Ginsburg translation is the worst. It was translated from the censored Soviet edition of the novel and is therefore incomplete. DO NOT let the cool cover or somewhat lower price fool you, unless you want to read the censored edition and miss out on everything that made this book important in the first place.
I personally recommend the translation by Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor. Wikipedia agrees.
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Dirk, April 30, 2007 (view all comments by Dirk)
Wonderful book! It's like one of those madcap Hollywood comedies of the 1930's and 40's. It starts out slow and a little strange, then begins to pick up steam and near 2/3 through it becomes a rollicking train headed for, OH MY, disaster?! Throw in a great little piece on Jesus, just enough to tweak the nose of the fundamentalists, some pointed references to the lunacy of bureaucracy, some love, lust, and the "black arts", and you've got a fine kettle of Russian fish.
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Grove Press -
"Manuscripts don't burn" that's what the man said. It's impossible to destroy the last thing that one has loved, as memory trumps death. This holds true for Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita: he burned his own copy down to nothing, then proceeded to rewrite the entire book from memory. The most famous of his works, The Master and Margarita is the tale of the heartbroken Master (he's a writer; he wears a hat) and his beloved Margarita (she glows; she flies), and both are very, very special. Then again, it is also the tale of the devil, with his attendant charmers/demons, and that of Pontius Pilate and his own great love. Pilate regrets putting the best company he's ever known to death, and he wants to set the business aright. Note: it is not necessary to subscribe to any sort of religion to enjoy this book, as it is too beautiful to be solely evangelical.
by John L.,
A hilarious attack on the hypocrisy of early Soviet Moscow that is as much a commentary on Stalin's political propaganda as it is on all forms of patriotism. The characters are hilarious and the story is as gripping as any I have ever read.
by John L.
by The New York Times Book Review,
"One of the truly great Russian novels of this century."
Suppressed in the Soviet Union for twenty-six years, Mikhail Bulgakov's masterpiece is an ironic parable of power and its corruption, good and evil, and human frailty and the strength of love. Featuring Satan, accompanied by a retinue that includes the large, fast-talking, vodka drinking black tom cat Behemoth, the beautiful Margarita, her beloved - a distraught writer known only as the Master - Pontius Pilate, and Jesus Christ, The Master and Margarita combines fable, fantasy, political satire, and slapstick comedy into a wildly entertaining and unforgettable tale that is commonly considered one of the greatest novels ever to come out of the Soviet Union. "A wild surrealistic romp.... Brilliantly flamboyant and outrageous."-Joyce Carol Oates, The Detroit News; "Fine, funny, imaginative.... The Master and Margarita stands squarely in the great Gogolesque tradition of satiric narrative."-Saul Maloff, Newsweek; "Funny, devilish, brilliant satire.... It's literature of the highest order and . . . it will deliver a full measure of enjoyment and enlightenment."-Publisher's Weekly; "A rich, funny, moving and bitter novel.... Vast and boisterous entertainment."-The New York Times
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.
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