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The Master and Margarita

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  273,221 ratings  ·  13,569 reviews
The first complete, annotated English Translation of Mikhail Bulgakov's comic masterpiece.

An audacious revision of the stories of Faust and Pontius Pilate, The Master and Margarita is recognized as one of the essential classics of modern Russian literature. The novel's vision of Soviet life in the 1930s is so ferociously accurate that it could not be published during its a
Paperback, First Vintage International Edition (US / CAN), 372 pages
Published March 1996 by Vintage International (first published 1967)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  273,221 ratings  ·  13,569 reviews

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Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review is dedicated to Mary, the very model of a perfect co-moderator and GR friend.

Unlocking the Meaning of The Master and Margarita

Mikhail Bulgakov

In the decades following the publication of The Master and Margarita, myriad critics have attempted to find a key to unlock the meaning of Bulgakov’s unfinished masterwork. Some viewed the novel as a political roman à clef, laboriously substituting historical figures from Stalinist Moscow for Bulgakov’s characters. Others posited a religious fo
I'm staying home from work today, sick to the extreme, and it's only in that unique feverish clarity that comes with illness that I dare to even try to write about this book.

This is THE book. The one that all the other books are measured against. The one that I've read more times since I was twelve than the number of books some people I know have read in their entire lives. The one from which I've memorized entire passages. This is it, the golden standard, the masterpiece, the unattainable perfe
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita is a novel, by Russian writer, Mikhail Bulgakov, written in the Soviet Union between 1928 and 1940 during Stalin's regime.

The story concerns a visit by the devil to the officially atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consider it to be one of the best novels of the 20th century, as well as the foremost of Soviet satires.

The novel alternates between two settings.

The first is 1930's Moscow, where Satan appears at the Patriarch Pon
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: You, Citizen!
Recommended to s.penkevich by: The Devil knows who!
All power is violence over people.

Pre-review (2021): I’ve just reread this and was once again completely enraptured by the power and beauty of this book. It is a comic masterpiece that gets better with each visit. This time I went with the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation. I would recommend it for first time readers as it is very fluid and feels quite modern, though having read many authors under their translation you can detect their style and there is a bit of a tendency to overtranslate (
The Chicago Tribune wrote: “The book is by turns hilarious, mysterious, contemplative and poignant, and everywhere full of rich descriptive passages.”

Hilarious and contemplative my ass, CT. This book is an interminable slog.

Look, here’s the deal. I get that this book satirizes 1930s Stalinist Russia, and I get that—for some—this earns The Master and Margarita a place on their “works-of-historical-importance” shelves. But for me, it earns nothing. I mean, let’s just call a spade a spade, shall we
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Each and everyone
Love leaped out in front of us like a murderer in an alley leaping out of nowhere, and struck us both at once. As lightning strikes, as a Finnish knife strikes! She, by the way, insisted afterwards that it wasn’t so, that we had, of course, loved each other for a long, long time, without knowing each other, never having seen each other…

I experienced this magical novel as an unrivalled ode to love and reveled in its delectable burlesque and hilarious scenes. It knocked me off my feet and pointed
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Soviet Ghost Stories

Stories, stories, all is stories: political stories, religious stories, scientific stories, even stories about stories. We live inside these stories. Like this one in The Master and Margarita. The story that we can more or less agree upon we call reality. But is it real?

Story-making and telling is what we do as human beings. Through stories we create meaning out of thin air, in the same way that plants create their food from light, and usually with about the same level of cas
°°°·.°·..·°¯°·._.· ʜᴇʟᴇɴ Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος ·._.·°¯°·.·° .·°°° ★·.·´¯`·.·★ Ⓥⓔⓡⓝⓤⓢ Ⓟⓞⓡⓣⓘⓣⓞⓡ Ⓐⓡⓒⓐⓝⓤⓢ Ταμετούρο   Αμ
«Sympathy for the Devil»

His name is God. Not Lucifer,not Satan,but God!!!
Satan is God in a bad mood. God in a bad mood lays our souls to waste.
«As heads is tales
Just call me LUCIFER
cop is to criminal as God is to Lucifer».

God in a good mood plays games with us.
«What’s confusing you is just THE NATURE OF MY GAME»

«This song has a direct tie to the book, "the Master and the Margarita", is about all the history & tragedies with points throughout time. The man he is describing is the devil.The
Henry Avila
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A poet "Homeless", as he calls himself, and a magazine editor, his gruff boss, Berlioz, are having a conversation, in a quiet, nondescript Moscow park, just before the start of the Second World War. Drinking, just harmless sodas, and discussing business, ordinary right? That's the last time in this novel, it is. An apparition appears in the sky, weird and unbelievable, a frightening seven foot transparent man, is seen floating above their heads, but only Berlioz spots it, he's obviously, the edi ...more
Jim Fonseca
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russian-authors
More or less a novel, this book is also an allegory. Like Moby Dick, there are probably a dozen interpretations that can be given to it. The extensive local color comes from Moscow in the early Twentieth Century. (The author wrote and revised it from 1929 to 1940). The main plot centers around a crowd of Russian literati - authors, theater goers and hangers-on, particularly one older world-weary author (the Master) and his beautiful young girlfriend (Margarita). The devil and his sidekicks come ...more
This is a romp. While reading it I saw somewhere that Salman Rushdie said it was a major influence for him in the writing of The Satanic Verses. I have an inkling, unconfirmed at this point, that Gabriel García Márquez and Italo Calvino were also influenced by it. Several things about it surprise me. No doubt it's loaded with political subtext about Stalin's Russia; it was written during the years of the worst crimes of Stalin's regime. I speak here of "dekulakization," in which some 20 to 50 m ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of fantasy and absurdity
This book by Bulgakov is a miracle - a magical text of incredible imagination that miraculously did not get its author shipped out to a gulag and forgotten. Miraculous that the book made it out of Stalinist Russia for our enjoyment. Miraculous as it is a work of sublime beauty and a fitting 20th C Faustian story. A must-read to understand a slice of reality under a totalitarian government. The writing is engaging and highly imaginative. I need to reread this one again!

Just rereading tonight and
Kevin Ansbro
"The devil went down to Georgia Moscow, he was looking for a soul to steal."

Phew! I needed a margarita after finishing The Master and Margarita! What a magnificent, turbulent read!
This extravagant Russian allegory is an adult Alice in Wonderland, bursting at the seams with mischief, darkness and rambunctiousness. The ghosts of Faust and Dante must have sat on the author's shoulders as he worked tirelessly on this masterpiece.
In short, this book was made for me! Come down from the
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Master and Margarita by Soviet era writer Mikhail Bulgakov seems to inspire strong emotions though most critics and commentators have been impressed with the fantastic satire. Le Monde listed the novel number 94 on its 100 books of the century. I found it absurd, outrageous, inconsistent, but for the most part entertaining.

I would probably appreciate the novel more if I better understood Bulgakov’s scathing satire on atheistic Soviet society, which he exposes as materialistic and bourgeois.
Vit Babenco
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There was something devilish and demonic in the time itself so the devil with his demons descended unto the capital city.
First of all, the man described did not limp on any leg, and was neither short nor enormous, but simply tall. As for his teeth, he had platinum crowns on the left side and gold on the right. He was wearing an expensive grey suit and imported shoes of a matching colour. His grey beret was cocked rakishly over one ear; under his arm he carried a stick with a black knob shaped li
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a bit like trying to explain the "Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey" ride at Universal Studios (a constant ad on Goodreads [also, cool factoid: this is actor Daniel Radcliffe's favorite novel!])--I will eventually make a fool of myself trying to describe the orchestrations of both the physical body with the pyrotechnics & rollercoaster mechanics... see, I just can't.

And one can't quite get to the bottom of "The Master and Margarita"--a trippy, satirical, hard-to-classify classic of th
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A bitterly evil, yet hilarious and highly political disclosure of Stalins regime.

The devil disguised as Prof. Voland and his entourage, causing trouble in Moscow

The story of "The Master and Margarita" tells about the devil visiting Moscow, causing confusion and "evil" that exposes the repression of society. The devils doing evolves around a writer (the Master), whom they locked into a mental institution for writing a story and making claims that are inconsistent with the states ideology of athei
Oct 16, 2012 rated it liked it
There once was a book praised as boff
That caused others to pan it and scoff
So who wrote this thing
Whence sentiments swing?
T’was a Russian they called Bulgakov.

The culture was smothered by Stalin
He purged those he felt failed to fall in.
So how to respond
Sans magical wand?
With satire, to show it’s appallin’.

The book has been said to have layers
With multiple plotlines and players.
There’s good and there’s bad
And witches unclad.
Can naked truth sate the naysayers?

The Devil’s own minions had power.
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Swimming Against the Stream

This was my second reading of “The Master and Margarita”, although the first must have been in the mid-70’s.

I had vivid memories of the first reading, although if you had asked me to describe them, I wouldn’t have been able to. All I can recall is something fluid and magical.

I hesitate to use the term “Magical Realism”, because I wasn’t aware of it at the time and, besides, I dispute whether the term applies to Bulgakov’s work.

My experience this time was quite differen
Paquita Maria Sanchez
I love this book, but I won't assume you're an idiotic bigot if you think it sucks. ...more
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Diane by: Michelle
What. The Hell. Was That?

This Russian novel was so wacky and schizophrenic that it gave me a headache.

I had never heard of "The Master and Margarita" until a book club friend said it was one of her favorites. It comes weighted with a lot of praise -- it is considered one of the great Russian novels and has been listed as one of the best books of the 20th Century.

I read a lot of glowing, 5-star reviews of this book, but I just didn't connect with it as others have. I didn't even like the book un
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My beloved novel! A masterpiece! So many layers and themes! It is so rare that every time you read a book you discover something new.
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first time I read The Master and Margarita many years ago I saw it as a diamond in the rough. Rereading it now, I can see how brilliant that diamond really is.
Jubilee edition
It's difficult to explain the effect of this book. There is such a wild oscillation in it that swings us back and forth between two worlds: the world of Moscow - a wild circus with the devil Woland as ringmaster - and the world of Yershalaim (Jerusalem). These are fictional reinventions that retain a basic truth.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian-lit
The Master and Margarita is undoubtedly the most unusual book I have read. The book is written in two parts: The first part opens with the Devil's arrival in Moscow and the series of tragic events that take place in its wake. Devil, who goes by the name Woland, and his retinue create havoc in Moscow targeting literary elites, the most important target being Berlioz, the head of the Moscow Literary Union known as MASSOLIT, a renowned atheist. Most of the literary members being atheist receive cru ...more
Kimber Silver
"What would your good do if evil didn't exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared?"
― Mikhail Bulgakov

The intriguing cover gave nothing away, while the title made me long for a frosty drink on the beach. I hadn’t heard a whisper about this book before, unaware of the captivating discovery I was about to make. Like a multifaceted gem, each sparkling page of this fantastical Russian wonder drew me deeper into The Master and Margarita's brilliant world. I was soon
Nandakishore Mridula

What is this novel through which I've ambled?
Is it only that Doctor Bulgakov has rambled?
Or some heady, unearthly wine I've sampled?
Folks! I do believe that my brain has been scrambled!

When the Russians write, you do expect some gloom;
A lot of characters sitting around, awaiting doom:
And guys wandering about like Leopold Bloom -
Just marking time until they can enter the tomb...

But when on page one, you encounter the devil
Come to visit Moscow, wine, dine and revel;
With his motley crew of demons m
I wasn’t too sure what I was getting into with a book as famous and as beloved as “The Master and Margarita”. I had cracked it open once before, and barely made past page 10 before giving up – but to be fair, my head was not in the right place for a book like that at the time. This time around, I needed to cleanse my brain of the memory of a clumsily written and disappointing read, and I just figured Bulgakov had waited on my shelf long enough, and that he would do the trick.

“The Master and Marg
Steven Godin
Hmm......It would appear that poor old Berlioz was not the only one to lose his head, feels like mine has gone as well!, not literally though more mentally, as I can't quite make heads or tails out of what has just gone before my eyes!. While other writers of this time period put pen to paper in the darkest of ways under Stalin's reign, Mikhail Bulgakov decides to write about among other things, talking cats, naked witches, Pontius Pilate, invisible body cream, trumpet playing gorillas and danci ...more
Jun 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
The devil enabling a love story, loosely based on the life of the author, while simultaneously causing quite a ruckus in the better off circles of Moscow.
Bold, eclectic, fun and uncomparable.

No documents, no person

Loved the humor and absurdity, it reminds me of Jonathan Safran Foer his writing in Everything Is Illuminated.
The Master and Margarita is maybe not a perfect book, being partly unedited due to the death of the author, but the daring, the imagination required, and above all the fun whi
There are very few things I can say about this novel except it's Brilliant, Brilliant, Brillant. That, and I am afraid I'm a total fanboy of all Russian novelists and this one in particular.

And I thought Dostoyevski was good. Damn. This one is completely modern, absolutely unappreciated in his time, dead young, and hailed as one of Russia's most popular novelists. Ever. And for good reason. The satire, written in the 50's, lambasts Moscow's '30's and continues to be a threat to all Russia today
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine books 2 7 Aug 17, 2021 12:15AM  
Reading 1001: The Master and Margarita - Bulgakov 2 25 Mar 28, 2021 08:19PM  
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Into the Forest: The Master and Margarita spoiler free 23 39 Feb 23, 2021 07:03PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Change page count 2 9 Jan 04, 2021 06:00PM  
Non sapevo come c...: Step lettura Novembre 2020 19 179 Nov 29, 2020 03:32AM  
Play Book Tag: Theresa Reads Master & Margarita, finally 6 45 Nov 28, 2020 07:32AM  

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Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kyiv, Russian Empire (today Ukraine) on May 15 1891. He studied and briefly practised medicine and, after indigent wanderings through revolutionary Russia and the Caucasus, he settled in Moscow in 1921. His sympathetic portrayal of White characters in his stories, in the plays The Days of the Turbins (The White Guard), which enjoyed great success at the Moscow Art Thea ...more

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131 likes · 49 comments
“But would you kindly ponder this question: What would your good do if
evil didn't exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows
disappeared? After all, shadows are cast by things and people. Here is the
shadow of my sword. But shadows also come from trees and living beings.
Do you want to strip the earth of all trees and living things just because
of your fantasy of enjoying naked light? You're stupid.”
“Everything will turn out right, the world is built on that.” 739 likes
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