The Master and Margarita

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Grove Press, 1987 - Fiction - 402 pages
1253 Reviews
I first read Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita on a balcony of the Hotel Metropole in Saigon on three summer evenings in 1971. The tropical air was heavy and full of the smells of cordite and motorcycle exhaust and rotting fish and wood-fire stoves, and the horizon flared ambiguously, perhaps from heat lightning, perhaps from bombs. Later each night, as was my custom, I would wander out into the steamy back alleys of the city, where no one ever seemed to sleep, and crouch in doorways with the people and listen to the stories of their culture and their ancestors and their ongoing lives. Bulgakov taught me to hear something in those stories that I had not yet clearly heard. One could call it, in terms that would soon thereafter gain wide currency, "magical realism". The deadpan mix of the fantastic and the realistic was at the heart of the Vietnamese mythos. It is at the heart of the present zeitgeist. And it was not invented by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as wonderful as hisOne Hundred Years of Solitude is. Garcia Marquez's landmark work of magical realism was predated by nearly three decades by Bulgakov's brilliant masterpiece of a novel. That summer in Saigon a vodka-swilling, talking black cat, a coven of beautiful naked witches, Pontius Pilate, and a whole cast of benighted writers of Stalinist Moscow and Satan himself all took up permanent residence in my creative unconscious. Their presence, perhaps more than anything else from the realm of literature, has helped shape the work I am most proud of. I'm often asked for a list of favorite authors. Here is my advice. Read Bulgakov. Look around you at the new century. He will show you things you need to see.

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Review: The Master and Margarita

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Goodness, I really didn't get on with this. I found it such a challenge to stay engaged. I wasn't really sure what was going on for a lot of the time, and I didn't like any of the characters except ... Read full review

Review: The Master and Margarita

User Review  - Goodreads

I admired the structure of the book and the clever narration from wide, varied POVs, but in terms of relating to or even 'enjoying' the novel, I felt a little let down. I think it's me - I've read a ... Read full review

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About the author (1987)

Mikhail Afanasevich Bulgakov was a Russian playwright, novelist, and short-story writer best known for his use of humor and satire. He was born in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 15, 1891, and graduated from the Medical School of Kiev University in 1916. He served as a field doctor during World War I. Bulgakov's association with the Moscow Art Theater began in 1926 with the production of his play The Days of the Turbins, which was based on his novel The White Guard. His work was popular, but since it ridiculed the Soviet establishment, was frequently censored. His satiric novel The Heart of a Dog was not published openly in the U.S.S.R. until 1987. Bulgakov's plays including Pushkin and Moliere dealt with artistic freedom. His last novel, The Master and Margarita, was not published until 1966-67 and in censored form. Bulgakov died in Moscow on March 10, 1940.

Mirra Ginsburg was born in Bobruisk, Byelorussia in 1909. As a child, she learned to love books. Folk tales were her favorite type of story, especially those from her native country. She wanted to share the richness, wit, and beauty of the tales with American children and did with her translation work. She died on December 26, 2000.

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