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A 50th-anniversary Deluxe Edition of the incomparable 20th-century masterpiece of satire and fantasy, in a newly revised version of the acclaimed Pevear and Volokhonsky translation
 
Nothing in the whole of literature compares with The Master and Margarita. One spring afternoon, the Devil, trailing fire and chaos in his wake, weaves himself out of the shadows and into Moscow. Mikhail Bulgakov’s fantastical, funny, and devastating satire of Soviet life combines two distinct yet interwoven parts, one set in contemporary Moscow, the other in ancient Jerusalem, each brimming with historical, imaginary, frightful, and wonderful characters. Written during the darkest days of Stalin’s reign, and finally published in 1966 and 1967, The Master and Margarita became a literary phenomenon, signaling artistic and spiritual freedom for Russians everywhere.
 
This newly revised translation, by the award-winning team of Pevear and Volokhonsky, is made from the complete and unabridged Russian text.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators. 

Review

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

“From the first page I was immediately beguiled, leading me to my year of reading Bulgakov, drawing me to venture to Moscow to seek out the landmarks in the book, and the author’s grave, which is steps away from the grave of Gogol.” — Patti Smith, The New York Times Book Review

“Nude vampires, gun-toting talking black cat, and devil as ultimate party starter aside, the miracle of this novel is that every time you read it, it’s a different book.” — Marlon James, “My 10 Favorite Books,” in T: The New York Times Style Magazine

“I read it first as an 18-year-old and, just like a meteor from a distant galaxy, it hit my tender young brain and dug its way deep into its gray material. It has nestled there ever since, radiating with beauty and wonder, irony and horror.” — Sjón, Vulture

“One of the truly great Russian novels of [the twentieth] century.” — The New York Times Book Review
 
“By turns hilarious, mysterious, contemplative, and poignant . . . A great work.” — Chicago Tribune
 
“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.” — The New York Times
 
“Fine, funny, imaginative . . . The Master and Margarita stands squarely in the great Gogolesque tradition of satiric narrative.” — Newsweek
 
“A wild surrealistic romp . . . Brilliantly flamboyant and outrageous.” — Joyce Carol Oates
 
“Beautiful, strange, tender, scarifying, and incandescent . . . One of those novels that, even in translation, make one feel that not one word could have been written differently . . . Margarita has too many achievements to list—for one thing, a plot scudding with action and suspense, not exactly a hallmark of Russian literature. . . . This luminous translation [is] distinguished by not only the stylistic elegance that has become a hallmark of Pevear and Volokhonsky translations but also a supreme ear for the sound and meaning of Soviet life. . . . It’s time for The Master and Margarita to rise to its rightful place in the canon of great world literature. . . . As literature, it will live forever.” — Boris Fishman, from the Foreword

About 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 (translators) have translated works by Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Gogol, and Pasternak. They were twice awarded the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize, for their translations of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Pevear, a native of Boston, and Volokhonsky, of St. Petersburg, are married and live in Paris.

Boris Fishman (foreword) is the author of two novels, A Replacement Life, which was one of The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2014 and won the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal, and Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo. His journalism, essays, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, the London Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. Fishman has taught at Princeton University and New York University. Born in Minsk, Belarus, he moved to the United States at age nine and now lives in New York.

Christopher Conn Askew (cover illustrator) is a painter and tattoo artist whose illustrations have appeared on the covers of books, albums, and magazines. He lives in Los Angeles.

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Ksenia Anske
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Read this translation for annotations only
Reviewed in the United States on March 11, 2014
Before you dive into this review, know this. I''m a native Russian, and a writer, and I have just completed a feat of rereading the novel in Russian and reading first Ginsburg and then Pevear & Volokhonsky translations, back to back, to compare. And Ginsburg''s translation... See more
Before you dive into this review, know this. I''m a native Russian, and a writer, and I have just completed a feat of rereading the novel in Russian and reading first Ginsburg and then Pevear & Volokhonsky translations, back to back, to compare. And Ginsburg''s translation will give you the best feeling for the language, the culture, and the story. It''s the bomb. This translation left me in tatters, it didn''t speak to me as Bulgakov, it even impoverished his style for me. The rating you see is for the novel itself, which is the work of art. Now, to the review itself.

The first time I read The Master and Margarita in Russian, it was, out of all places, in Berlin. I was a teenager, and I lived in Berlin with my father and his new wife and my half-sister, because my father was a writer and a journalist and was sent by Soviet Union to Berlin to be the correspondent for a large Russian newspaper agency. I remember reading the book so vividly, that even today every detail is etched in my brain like a colorful photograph. The soft bright chair I sat in, with my back toward the window, the book in my lap, the pages rustling, and the image of Margarita, most importantly, of her knee, the knee that''s been kissed over and over and how it turned blue. And the cat, the black cat that could talk. That''s all I remember, plus the feeling of fascination I got. And now, over 20 years later, I have read it again, after becoming a writer myself 2 years ago, not knowing back in my teens that I would ever write, but being struck by the genius of Bulgakov. And, my, oh my, rereading it now I understood for the first time what the book was about. I sort of thought of it as a fairy tale back in my teens, I felt something underneath it, but couldn''t get it. I got it now, and I cried, I cried for Bulgakov, for his imprisonment as a writer in the country that oppressed him to the last of his days, and I cried because he refused to be broken, and because he has written a masterpiece, and I was holding it in my hands, reliving it like so many people, many many years after he died.

As to the story. It''s not just one story, and not even two, it''s four. A story of love, and of darkness, and of life and death. There are four narratives, the love between Master and Margarita, the strange visitors and Satan who come to Moscow, the story of Moscow life itself, the city, the people, and the story of Yeshua in the ancient walls of Yershalayim. Each has its own flavor, breathes its own air, and weaves into one book that tethers on that notion that no work of art can be destroyed, "manuscripts don''t burn", says Satan, and that''s Bulgakov''s pain, him against the system that wanted to crush him, and didn''t. He escaped. The irony of the book is that, in some sense, it''s autobiographical, and that makes it even more tragic. But the satire! Oh, the satire! I don''t know how many times I snorted coffee and tea out of my nose, because I have this habit of drinking hot drinks while reading, curled up on the couch. So many memories burst on the scene, so many authentic Russian quirks and habits and characters, the wealth of which I have nearly forgotten over my 16 years in US, and which dazzled my mind like fireworks, albeit of course, because I was reading it in Russian, and I''m about to start reading two translations in English, one by Mirra Ginsburg, and another by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Because, if there was ever a book worth reading 5, 10, 20 times in a row, it is The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov, his last book written over the course of 10 years, and not quite completed… he narrated changes to his wife right up to his death. No matter. It is perfect. Read it.
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O. Wright
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disappointing
Reviewed in the United States on March 19, 2019
After reading all the academic accolades I expected a novel that was riveting and engrossing. Might be just my pedestrian tastes, but I found very little of the noir Russian humor to be laughable. The long series of violent vignettes could have been reduced to just a few.... See more
After reading all the academic accolades I expected a novel that was riveting and engrossing. Might be just my pedestrian tastes, but I found very little of the noir Russian humor to be laughable. The long series of violent vignettes could have been reduced to just a few. And all the magic and clown theater was just pedantic. The satirical allusions to mid 20th Century Soviet culture and politics were just too vague for me to appreciate. And in the end, I''m just not sure what the purpose of this work is; if your writing is so obscure as to be nearly unintelligible, why write it? Literature is intended for an audience, isn''t it?
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Magna Opus
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Devil comes to Moscow with his giant talking Cat
Reviewed in the United States on July 31, 2016
It took me 2 months to read The Master and Margarita, but I’m glad I stuck with it for the enjoyment of completing a difficult task. Also, the book was fun, something I didn’t expect. And of course now I can flatter myself in the bookstore by pointing to it and saying “I... See more
It took me 2 months to read The Master and Margarita, but I’m glad I stuck with it for the enjoyment of completing a difficult task. Also, the book was fun, something I didn’t expect. And of course now I can flatter myself in the bookstore by pointing to it and saying “I read that!”
I’m not Russian. I’ve never been to Russia and the largest segment of Russian culture that I know anything about is classical ballet. I’m not political, so I don’t know much of the political structures that have governed Russia for decades. But I do know that the Master and Margarita is a modern day Russian classic so I read it. I expected it to be a dry, impenetrable task but I wanted to see what the big deal was.
I probably still don’t know what the big deal is, but what a wild ride. There’s a devil who shows up in Moscow one day (God only knows why) and takes over the theatre and all the chaos and hilarity that ensures from that. We’ve got a giant black cat that stands on his hind legs and talks and causes a boatload of trouble. He’s in league with the devil, you see. We have a heroine who flies over Moscow by night on her witch’s broom and her servant girl who rides with her, but on the back of a giant flying pig.
But first, you must make your way past the first 3 chapters. Once you do, I guarantee you’ll be re-reading passages to make sure you read it right the first time. You probably did; this book is as wild as anything Fellini ever put on film and makes Alice in Wonderland look like child’s play. Don’t get bogged down in Pontius Pilate and all of that. It’s temporary and doesn’t take up much of the book.
Magical realism? I don’t know. It’s pretty magical but I don’t think it’s real. Symbolism? Plenty of it: the moon, the color red, naked women, mental hospitals and more. But what it all means is up to the reader to decipher and having read this book once, I know I’ll have to re-read it to glean understanding.
History says Mikhail Bulgakov wrote this during the height of Stalin’s tyranny. For that reason, the book was banned which is a concept that Americans can’t understand. To us, the label “banned book” is an enticement to see what the big deal was. In Stalinist Russia, having your book banned was getting off easy; writers and members of the intelligentsia were often sent off to work camps or killed.
But enough history. The thing is, if you pick up this book, expect to be captivated by chaos and improbability, passages that are truly gothic, and beautiful writing. It’s an outrageous trip. Overall, The Master and Margarita is a love story imagined during a time of great trouble. This book can go as deep as the reader is willing to go, but don’t expect to get it all in the first or third read. You can keep it light and be amazed or take it deeper. If you go deep, please report back to us and share your findings. I know I missed a lot.
Don’t be frightened away from The Master and Margarita. Remember, there’s a giant black cat that walks on hind legs and can’t wait to stir up disaster. How entertaining is that?
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Janet Schmidt
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
translations differ - rating so far, will edit as I continue through this version
Reviewed in the United States on April 14, 2020
I read The Master and Margarita when I bought the Michael Glenny translation in paperback in 1970. I loved it. I still have the paperback...but 50 years later, I prefer to read books on a kindle, where I can light text adequately, adjust the text size for my aged eyes, and... See more
I read The Master and Margarita when I bought the Michael Glenny translation in paperback in 1970. I loved it. I still have the paperback...but 50 years later, I prefer to read books on a kindle, where I can light text adequately, adjust the text size for my aged eyes, and don''t have to turn pages with my arthritic hands. I was disappointed that none of the translations available for the kindle are the translation I first read and love. So, I went with the most expensive option and bought the Penguin Classics Deluxe version that is supposed to be the new authoritative version of the novel. I am not far into this version, and I am finding the footnotes fun to follow - lots of information - it''s like The Annotated Alice in that lots of context that I just read over fifty years ago is explained. However, if this were my first reading of the novel, I am not sure that I would love it quite the way that I did the Glenny translation in 1970. It is less fun. The prose is more pedestrian. Since I do not read Russian, I have no idea if that is the author or the translator. I compared the first paragraph of each translation available for the kindle before making my purchase, and I knew that this translation failed to capture me with the opening lines in the way that the Glenny translation did. I am hoping that as the story progresses, the insanity of the action will again charm me, and that it was not just the embellishments Glenny added to the text that charmed me.
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James R. Gilligan
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Russian magical realism. Yes, it''s a thing.
Reviewed in the United States on December 2, 2018
In spite of my many years of experience as a reader of a wide variety of literature—from YA novels to Shakespeare and lots of stuff in between—I am a newcomer to magical realism. So new, in fact, that I had no clue there was such a thing as Russian magical realism, which... See more
In spite of my many years of experience as a reader of a wide variety of literature—from YA novels to Shakespeare and lots of stuff in between—I am a newcomer to magical realism. So new, in fact, that I had no clue there was such a thing as Russian magical realism, which apparently predates Latin American magical realism, the better-known type. I suspect that my lack of familiarity with the genre, compounded by my very limited knowledge of Russian history and literature, made this novel a rather tough task for me. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it but obviously not as much as I would have had I the proper prior knowledge.

The novel defies summary. Woland (Satan) visits Moscow in the 1930s. He brings with him three henchman (one in the form of an oversized feline named Behemoth). A series of episodic adventures ensues—there is an “accidental” beheading, a theatrical séance, literary skullduggery, trips to asylums, multiple disappearances, lots of minor characters, and only a vague sense of plot coherence. And the titular duo do not become prominent in the story until the second half of the novel. Oh, there’s also a book-within-the-book: a narrative account of Pontius Pilate’s ruling on Christ’s execution. Yes, the narrative’s loose structure and multiple plot strands make it a challenge to follow. But Bulghakov’s humor is bitingly charming. I cannot even attempt to explain what the novel is about—that would require research and conversation with others who’ve read the book, neither of which I was fortunate enough to enjoy as I read it. These constraints limited the pleasure I derived from the novel, and I’m sure there’s more “there” in this confoundingly delightful book than I was able to identify. If you’re up for a challenge, you could do worse than The Master & Margarita.
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Otto Hannah
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Masterpiece of Modern Fiction
Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2016
While in high school, I discovered Goethe''s Faust and was so taken with it that I skipped school for a day, feigning sick, so that I could absorb myself in it. The wild and woolly tale at the core of Part I, which had been based on Christopher Marlowe''s Dr. Faustus, has... See more
While in high school, I discovered Goethe''s Faust and was so taken with it that I skipped school for a day, feigning sick, so that I could absorb myself in it. The wild and woolly tale at the core of Part I, which had been based on Christopher Marlowe''s Dr. Faustus, has long remained a subject of fascination. The Master and Margarita is another version of the Faust story, and one that also deserves repeated readings. Especially those who are fans of science fiction, the supernatural, magical realism, and political satire will enjoy this masterpiece of Soviet fiction. If you haven''t read it, do. It is a book that I would put on everybody''s "must read before dying" lists.
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Camilo Echeverri Gonzalez
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
One of those masterpieces I did not get
Reviewed in the United States on August 5, 2021
What I would like to remember: - The first chapter(s) of the book when two members of the literary class meet with Woland in the park got me really excited. I loved the way that he described the details of the place, the setting, the conversation. It was almost as if... See more
What I would like to remember:
- The first chapter(s) of the book when two members of the literary class meet with Woland in the park got me really excited. I loved the way that he described the details of the place, the setting, the conversation. It was almost as if you could be there. This was very much a constant feeling throughout the book: his description of every situation and character were very detailed and felt real. This was something I liked for a while, but at other times it felt tiring since it was reading a lot to get really nowhere. Of course there is a lot of literary merit in doing it and I did enjoy it sometimes. But others it was just tiring.
- The introduction to the edition I read offers a HUGE and detailed amoThis is one of those books where I feel that not having the full context or more knowledge (or something else) may have impacted my level of enjoyment. The story was not particularly engaging, nor did I find much depth on the message; in fact I don’t even think I was able to capture a message per se, and felt just like a long story. Having said this perhaps if I had known (or felt) more about the historical context of the Soviet Union at the time, may be I could have appreciated some deeper/hidden message(s) and/or some subtleties of the language.
- The book uses a lot of fancy language and extravagant words (at least for me). Since it was written in Russian, I also wonder if this is a product of the translation or if it’s the same in English.
- I don’t understand why he had 2 stories running (the one about Pontious Pilate and the one about Woland). What was the point? Again I am hoping there was something deeper that connects them. Otherwise it seems like just writing for the sake of it. Nothing wrong with that just not something I like.
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Live Person
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Masterpiece of 20th Century Russian Literature
Reviewed in the United States on December 3, 2017
This is a new, slightly longer English translation of what is perhaps the Russian classical masterpiece of the 20th century. It''s genre is best described as a fantasy/comedy, loaded with theological and political satire, set against the backdrop real life, Stalinist... See more
This is a new, slightly longer English translation of what is perhaps the Russian classical masterpiece of the 20th century. It''s genre is best described as a fantasy/comedy, loaded with theological and political satire, set against the backdrop real life, Stalinist Russia, where Satin makes an appearance for purposes of staging a magic show. Bulkokov believed that he would have been shot, had the book been released during his life, so he had is wife hide the manuscript until after his death. The fact that he hadn''t already been shot after releasing such blatant satires of communism as that contained in "A Dog''s Heart" is a minor miracle, but this one would surely have pushed Stalin past the limits of his patience, My guess is that Bulgokov''s body of work was so good that Stalin himself was a secret fan who needed to read more, causing him to hold back the arrest orders.
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Top reviews from other countries

Michael King
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Possibly the greatest Russian novel of the 20th century
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 24, 2017
In Chapter 21 of The Master and Margarita the maid Natasha, having been transformed into a witch and revelling in the freedom that the metamorphosis has brought her, exclaims “We, too, want to live and fly!”. Many in Stalinist Russia must have longed to ‘live and fly’ to...See more
In Chapter 21 of The Master and Margarita the maid Natasha, having been transformed into a witch and revelling in the freedom that the metamorphosis has brought her, exclaims “We, too, want to live and fly!”. Many in Stalinist Russia must have longed to ‘live and fly’ to escape the fear, tyranny and grey uniformity of Soviet life, but few had the opportunity and still fewer the courage to do so. This novel is about many things, but to my mind it is mainly about courage and freedom - the courage to be free. One of its recurring themes is that “cowardice is the most terrible of vices” and throughout the story it is the cowards, those who have made their compromises with tyranny and who lack the courage to seek freedom who are punished. On a warm spring afternoon at full moon Satan, attended by a bizarre retinue of demons including a huge black cat that walks on its hind legs, talks, drinks vodka and plays chess, arrives in Moscow, presents himself as ‘Professor Woland’ a theatrical magician and for the following few days presides as a kind of ‘Lord of Misrule’ over a series of hilariously disruptive events that cause widespread hysteria. While it becomes clear to the reader what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in the world of the novel it is not at all clear to most of those citizens of Moscow who encounter Satan/Woland and his demons. For the people of Moscow have made their compromises with tyranny to the extent that their perceptions have become so distorted that that they do not recognize tyranny for what it is, but believe it to be good and regard anything that disrupts the status quo as bad. Woland represents the urge to escape, to be free and apart from Natasha the only characters who act on this urge are Margarita who longs to escape from a loveless marriage and to be reunited with her lover, a persecuted novelist (‘the Master’), who has disappeared and the Master himself. The other characters who encounter Woland and his entourage are too immersed in the petty concerns of their everyday lives, their envy, their ambition, their crass materialism and their fearful and unquestioning acceptance of things as they are to dare to desire freedom. The novel is filled with incident and is very fast paced and I got the distinct impression that the driving force behind all of this is Bulgakov’s anger – his anger at Soviet society for its acceptance of and collaboration with tyranny and his anger at himself for what he believed to be his own cowardice in the face of tyranny. He invents a world in which he can wreak revenge and creates his own version of Satan to be his avenging angel. Bulgakov’s Satan is not the all evil Satan of the Christian imagination. True, he does bad things to bad people as Satan is expected to do, but uncharacteristically he also does good things to good people; not only is he capable of doing good as well as evil, but he also has a sense of humour: through Satan/Woland, Bulgakov can fantasize about laughing at and at the same time punishing the bureaucrats, spies, informers and busybodies who made day-to-day Soviet life so intolerable. Much of Bulgakov’s animus is directed at the complacent Muscovite literary establishment, who should have known better, who should have spoken out on behalf of the oppressed, but were so seduced by their privileged status and its attendant material benefits and so cowed that they ignored the reality of the world that they lived in. It was said by Nabokov that there was no such thing as Soviet literature as the truly great figures of Russian literature in the Soviet period were forced to become dissidents to be true to themselves and their art. It was the mediocrities who did not become dissidents and who reaped the rewards for their collaboration. Bulgakov shows his contempt for them by portraying them as the members of the literary club Massolit who are less interested in writing than in dachas, Crimean holidays and above all their fine club restaurant from which members of the public are excluded. The Master, in contrast, is not part of the literary establishment. He has written a novel about the moral cowardice of Pontius Pilate, who was so terrified of the consequences of defying the Emperor Tiberius that he submitted to the blackmail of the high priest and acted contrary to his own conscience and inclinations by agreeing to the execution of Jesus. The Master’s novel has been denied publication presumably because the parallels with Soviet life are too obvious for comfort, and a campaign against its author by a group of influential literary critics has driven the Master to burn the manuscript and has led to his being arrested and subsequently seeking refuge in a psychiatric hospital. There are parallels with Bulgakov’s life in that he was himself the victim of a politically motivated press campaign in the 1920’s. The Master and Margarita was not published during his lifetime and at one stage he even burned the manuscript. But, as Woland says, “Manuscripts do not burn”… The Master and Margarita is a wonderful comic fantasy in which supernatural happenings occur in a world that does not accept the supernatural as a possibility and much of the comedy is provided by the reactions of Soviet citizens and officials to the outrageous tricks that are perpetrated on them. One of the funniest incidents in the book is when a pompous citizen who has temporarily been metamorphosed into a hog and forced to attend Satan’s grand ball demands from Satan a certificate attesting to this fact as evidence to prove to his wife and to the authorities where he has spent the night. I suppose it is the portrayal of Satan that caused the Russian Orthodox Church to find the novel offensive and that in 2006 induced a religious extremist to vandalize the Bulgakov museum in Moscow. This is ironic because Bulgakov was a Christian and it was his outrage at the crude anti-religious propaganda of the Soviet authorities that prompted him to write the novel, but Satan as the advocate of religious belief and the opponent of official Soviet atheism even in the context of a satire was clearly too much for conventional Christians to swallow. It is also probable that they were offended that the Master’s unorthodox retelling of the Gospel story is featured in four chapters as a novel within the novel, part of which is actually narrated by Satan. In the circumstances the fact that the atmosphere of ancient Jerusalem (in the novel called ‘Yershalaim’) and the events surrounding the crucifixion are brought to life much more vividly than in the Gospel accounts cannot have pleased the church authorities. I found it difficult to put the book down so engrossed did I become in the world that Bulgakov created and as soon as I finished it I started to read it again. His Moscow seems very immediate and alive and the small-minded, sly, officious and corrupt Soviet citizens and officials that he describes are sadly all too credible. The general unpleasantness of life in the Stalinist period, the atmosphere of fear and distrust, the denunciations, the disappearances, the privations of life in communal apartments, the privileges enjoyed by the favoured few such as hard currency shops and exclusive clubs are all objects of Bulgakov’s satire. Even though it is set in Stalinist Moscow at the height of the purges and show trials in the late 1930’s the atmosphere of the novel is not oppressive. This is a Moscow of the imagination in which demons with a sense of fun play pranks against the dour and humourless citizens and officials of the communist state. It is hardly surprising that Bulgakov did not seek to have the novel published during his lifetime. .
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Bookbinder79
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great novel, needs a bright reader
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 5, 2021
Absolutely stunning work of fiction written when it could so easily have been a death sentence to Bulgakov if discovered. From other reviews it seems that it is just beyond some people - their weakness not the novel’s. This new translation is a good one, and is based in the...See more
Absolutely stunning work of fiction written when it could so easily have been a death sentence to Bulgakov if discovered. From other reviews it seems that it is just beyond some people - their weakness not the novel’s. This new translation is a good one, and is based in the complete, uncensored original, unavailable to the early translators. Please note that the Penguin ‘deluxe’ edition has ‘American cut’ pages which is a style of binding not a defect as some reviewers complain. Again, it’s their failure to understand not a problem with the book.
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Shivam P.
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
You''d be better off buying a pirated copy, save yourself the heartache
Reviewed in India on June 19, 2017
There was a time when in a pile of freshly bought books Penguin Classics were invariably the most expensive and the best bound and printed book. It seems Penguin has stuck to being the tag of being expensive while happily dropping the quality.I compared a Penguin Classic...See more
There was a time when in a pile of freshly bought books Penguin Classics were invariably the most expensive and the best bound and printed book. It seems Penguin has stuck to being the tag of being expensive while happily dropping the quality.I compared a Penguin Classic that was sitting my shelf since i last read it three years ago to this, that came in today. The one gathering dust on the shelf still seemed a better copy as compared to this. The only place i would expect such quality in such a price would be in hiding , in Stalin''s Russia. It seems that the book is not an original copy but a roadside rip-off. The cover quality is pathetic. It is definitely not something that would survive any number of years on a shelf.It seems that the hobby of collecting book is about to go obsolete. What saddens me however is that this is the normal state of affairs. Past experiences tell me returning the book would not solve the issue Moreover what''s up with not using cardboard boxes in delivering boooks , Amazon? Each fold is excruciatingly painful for a book lover.
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Clementi
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Genuine Masterpiece
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 4, 2014
I often think that the term "masterpiece" is too liberally applied these days to books which really do not deserve it but The Master And Margarita is one of those wonderful books which truly DOES deserve that title. If you''re not familiar with Russian literature I still...See more
I often think that the term "masterpiece" is too liberally applied these days to books which really do not deserve it but The Master And Margarita is one of those wonderful books which truly DOES deserve that title. If you''re not familiar with Russian literature I still think you''d find this good a great romp but you may possibly not enjoy it as much as someone who has read Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Cherneshevsky, Turgenev, Goncharov etc beforehand, mostly because, in my opinion, the humor which this book boasts a-plenty is very, very Russian!! If you have an interest in the culture and history of Russia, this book also gives you an insight into the prejudices, the moral and philosophical opinions and the political upheaval of the time. One of my favorite (and most "Bulgakov-esque"!) moments comes at the very beginning of the book where Berlioz and his companion meet The Devil on a park bench and, not really knowing who he was and finding him somewhat strange, they try to logically and rationally discuss between themselves where he comes from and who, exactly, he is. They then conclude that he must surely be a mentally unstable German! Bulgakov has a way of writing which makes you believe that Berlioz and Co had come to this conclusion perfectly reasonably! The concept of someone being beheaded by olive oil (indirectly!) is just too delicious for words too! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who fancies a foray into Russian literature at the turn of the 20th Century and who is open to Bulgakov''s seemingly limitless powers of imagination! This is not a "story" in the conventional sense - it is a wander through the mind of Mikhail Bulgakov (a genius by my estimation) and there are many different interpretations of this novel. My own feeling is that it is an attempt to parallel "old" and "new" moral values (in much the same way as Turgenev''s Fathers and Sons or Dostoyevsky''s Notes From the Underground were) and it also has a philosophical and slightly heretical take on organized religion. Give it a try as it really is a superb book and funny beyond words!!
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AnnieS
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The best novel I’ve read in the past 20 years
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 23, 2020
Trying to avoid sounding pompous here, but this is an absolute zinger of a novel. First off, it’s very funny and simultaneously profoundly serious. It’s a social critique along the lines of Gogol, it’s a political critique of Stalinist USSR and it is deeply religious, the...See more
Trying to avoid sounding pompous here, but this is an absolute zinger of a novel. First off, it’s very funny and simultaneously profoundly serious. It’s a social critique along the lines of Gogol, it’s a political critique of Stalinist USSR and it is deeply religious, the action swinging from 20thC Russia to Roman-occupied Judea and Christ’s crucifixion. Very Russian (all the Big Questions) and totally universal. As soon as I’d finished it, I re-read it. I read a lot; this is the best thing I’ve read in the last 15 years and would be in my top 8 or so ever.
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