Beautiful book, its been several years since I read it but as I was adding books to the list I thought of it. Abrams paints beautiful pictures with hi...moreBeautiful book, its been several years since I read it but as I was adding books to the list I thought of it. Abrams paints beautiful pictures with his words and glorifies in the immanence of the natural world.(less)
People love this book. I have been told by no less that five people whose opinions on books I respect that this is one of their all time favorite book...morePeople love this book. I have been told by no less that five people whose opinions on books I respect that this is one of their all time favorite books. So I'm thinking, maybe i don't know enough about Russian history to truly appreciate the heights which for many this book reaches. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading The Master and Margarita. Anytime you have a Faustian devil appear on scene interesting things are going to happen, and I loved the Devil's minions in the story too. Bulgakov's imaginative powers seemed to take full flight in his crafting Satan, Behemoth, Azazello, and all the rest. Margarita's character--which is not introduced until the second part of the story--is delightful too. I was able to pick up on some of the more obvious philosophical and ethical themes, but I have a feeling that many of the deeper ideas Bulgakov was trying to bring out eluded me. Clearly Bulgakov is responding to a time in Russian history and in his own life where artistic integrity was being overturned by oppressive powers and the artistic community had fallen out of touch with what the point of their art-making, story-making, poem-making, drama-making, should have been. This allows the Devil to enter into theatrical society and very quickly expose (often literally, there is a lot of nudity in the story) the good citizens of Moscow for what they really are (mostly dishonest, greedy, selfish, wanton beings with a few noble surprises thrown in the mix). The book is a study is surrealism and that effect is heightened by the parallel story that takes place back in Ancient Jerusalem, that of Christ's sentencing and crucifixion. Towards the end of the novel the two stories converge in an original way and the ramifications of each of them are drawn out for the reader to consider. My sense of The Master and Margarita is that its a fun book that has serious aspects. It seems the dominant point of view though is that it is a serious book that has some fun and delightful aspects. When I think serious, dark, Russian literature and existential states of being I think Brothers K or Crime and Punishment and reading The Master and Margarita has not changed that for me. But it is a book that I could see myself returning to in several years and re-reading, and perhaps by doing so gaining a new level of knowledge and insight. Perhaps not though, you never know when you are dealing with the devil.