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The Master and Margarita

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  211,799 ratings  ·  9,909 reviews
Moscow, 1929: a city that has lost its way amid corruption and fear, inhabited by people who have abandoned their morals and forsaken spirituality. But when a mysterious stranger arrives in town with a bizarre entourage that includes a giant talking cat and a fanged assassin, all hell breaks loose. Among those caught up in the strange and inexplicable events that transpire ...more
Paperback, 332 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Lulu Press (first published 1967)
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 ·  211,799 ratings  ·  9,909 reviews


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Kris
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
...more
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 1930s Moscow, where Satan appears at the Patriarch Ponds
...more
Nataliya

EXTRA! EXTRA! This review has now been immortalized in audio format. Authentic Russian accent and Russian quotes are provided free of charge :) http://soundcloud.com/nataliyac/the-m...
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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
...more
Jason
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
...more
Ilse
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
BlackOxford
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
...more
°°°·.°·..·°¯°·._.· 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
...more
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 ...more
s.penkevich
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: You, Citizen!
Recommended to s.penkevich by: The Devil knows who!
Manuscripts don’t burn…
Mikhail Bulgakov, who is no stranger to the pale fire of a burning manuscript, has created a masterpiece of fiction that truly cannot be burned. Having been completed, but not fully edited, by the time of Bulgakov’s demise, this novel survived Soviet censorship and the test of time to remain one of the foremost Russian novels of the 20th century, and still holds relevance in today’s world. From political intrigue and scathing social satire to religious commentary and
...more
Lyn
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
...more
William2
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 ...more
Steve
Oct 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
...more
Fabian
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 and 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
...more
Mike Puma
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: masochists

This is not a review. This is my reaction to reading TM&M. Nothing more, and certainly less.

From time to time, and always when I receive a Friend Request, I check other people’s Read list via the Compare Books function—constantly cringing at the five titles that always show up as huge scars—the titles on their Read list and my To Read list. The indignity. It doesn’t end. There are five, five which constantly haunt me, flood me with shame. This is (was) one of them (had I chosen to read the

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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
...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
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
I love this book, but I won't assume you're an idiotic bigot if you think it sucks.
B0nnie
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.
description
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.

...more
Luís C.
Barely begun, I have more left! The fantastic adventures of the man with the severed head and demonic cat that disappears and reappears at will (among others) soothes me. What a brilliant storyteller that this Russian writer of the last century! The appearance of Marguerite Nikolaievna, the lover of the Master - 30 years, beautiful, smart, and married - without children - a very eminent specialist early in the second part of the story was very bewitching and for good reason, and thanks to ...more
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
...more
Jim Fonseca
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Diane
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
...more
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 ...more
Beata
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Gabrielle
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
...more
Nandakishore Varma

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
...more
Libby
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Folklore fans, Lit buffs
Recommended to Libby by: My lovely sister
Very little can prepare you for the wild ride that is Mikhail Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita," especially if you've read other literature or folklore that have the devil as a character. What will be helpful, I suspect, is knowing a bit about the time and setting of the novel. Bulgakov wrote this book between 1930 and 1940 while living in Moscow under Stalin. The book is set in 1920, when everything was being taken under government control, from the distribution of food and beverages to ...more
Chloe
Apr 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The bizarrely mad
I knew that this was going to be a book that I loved the moment I learned that Satan was the main character. This is not due to any particular affinity for devil worship on my part, but because I love Tricksters in literature and in Western civilization you don't get a better trickster than the devil. Watching him turn Stalinist Moscow on its head proved to be one of the most amusing and engrossing things I've read all year.

From the moment he first materializes as the black magician Woland at a
...more
Mary
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, russia, fiction
I'm just going to let the sparrow take the wheel of this humble attempt to review a book that I cannot find the words to adequately define! The fox trotting sparrow that is. Haven't read this book yet? If you haven't, that isn't a spoiler, it's just a fantastical little paragraph and image that has stuck with me. Imagine...a sparrow dancing the foxtrot...and then pooping. Are you doing it? OK, now you're ready for this book.

I sure wasn't ready for what was in store for me. I struggled at first.
...more
Nate D
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cowardice is the worst of sins
Recommended to Nate D by: manuscripts don't burn
Re-reading can be a terribly useful practice. I enjoyed the book enough before I suppose, but not nearly so much as this time. Part of it is that I'm reading a better translation, funnier and more poetic, by Mirra Ginsberg, whose impeccable Zamyatin translations greatly impressed me back in June. Unfortunately, her 1967 translation was of the censored original Russian publication from which editors omitted some 60 typescript pages (!) from the final version prepared by Bulgakov's wife Elena ...more
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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 ...more
“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.”
1098 likes
“Everything will turn out right, the world is built on that.” 663 likes
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