Penguin Classics Master and Margarita (英語) ペーパーバック – 2007/9/25
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Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita is a fiercely satirical fantasy that remained unpublished in its author's home country for over thirty years. This Penguin Classics edition is translated with an introduction by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the acclaimed translators of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. In Soviet Moscow, God is dead, but the devil - to say nothing of his retinue of demons, from a loudmouthed, gun-toting tomcat, to the fanged fallen angel Koroviev - is very much alive. As death and destruction spread through the city like wildfire, condemning Moscow's cultural elite to prison cells and body bags, only a madman, the Master, and Margarita, his beautiful, courageous lover, can hope to end the chaos. Written in secret during the darkest days of Stalin's reign and circulated in samizdat form for decades, when The Master and the Margarita was finally published it became an overnight literary phenomenon, signalling artistic freedom for Russians everywhere. This luminous translation from the complete and unabridged Russian text is accompanied by an introduction by Richard Pevear exploring the extraordinary circumstances of the novel's composition and publication, and how Bulgakov drew on carnivalesque folk traditions to create his ironic subversion of Soviet propaganda. This edition also contains a list of further reading and a note on the text. After finishing high school, Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940) entered the Medical School of Kiev University, graduating in 1916. He wrote about his experiences as a doctor in his early works Notes of a Young Country Doctor. His later works treated the subject of the artist and the tyrant under the guise of historical characters, but The Master and Margarita is generally considered his masterpiece. If you enjoyed The Master and Margarita, you might like Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, also available in Penguin Classics. 'One of the great novels of the 20th century, a scary, darkly comic allegory' Daily Telegraph
“My favorite novel—it’s just the greatest explosion of imagination, craziness, satire, humor, and heart.” —Daniel Radcliffe
“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 --このテキストは、絶版本またはこのタイトルには設定されていない版型に関連付けられています。
"MASTER AND MARGARITA" is about purges Stalin ordered in the Soviet Union. The curious thing about this book is that the purges are depicted not to have been carried out Stalin’s men, but rather by Satan himself, and in the manner of Baron Munchaussen, we get to know of a huge talking cat. Like animal farm, the greater meaning of the book is revealed through the intelligent though bizarre, compelling and humorous story. One is constantly left anticipating what the next page holds. There are so many layers and so many little details that one wonders how the author managed to put them together.
Bulgakov is the Soviet version of Imperial Russia’s Dostoevsky, but unlike Dostoyevsky who had a mastery of the mind/soul Bulgakov mastery is in the literature of oppression. I have recommended this book to many friends and family and recommend it to any reader interested in the enigma that is Russia, especially Stalinist Russia. Other interesting stories set in Russia are THE UNION MOUJIK,TARAS BULBA, PUTIN’S RUSSIA, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF LENIN, WAR AND PEACE. Also note that you are sure to find the widest selection of odd and creepy characters in this book .
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.
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?
As for the book, it's a classic of the Russian and world literature. Bulgakov was one of the first writers in magical realism (he started writing Master and Margarite about 40 years before G.G.Marquez started 100 Years of Solitude). Great book of a great author.