Why this book?
The devil arrives in Moscow with three companions—a pistol wielding cat, a female vampire, and a hit man. Together they wreak havoc.
These days The Master and Margarita might be categorized as Magical Realism, but I don’t think the term does it justice. It is humorous, fantastical and modernist, sensual and absurdist, a love story, and a social satire. There is also a recurring philosophical theme, expressed by Pontius Pilate struggling with his guilt.
The Master and Margarita has an interesting provenance too. In a fit of depression over the futility of being an author in Soviet Russia, Bulgakov burned the original draft of his manuscript. He then rewrote it but he never believed it would be read. Stalin held Bulgakov in high esteem and protected him, yet he would not allow his work to be published. It was smuggled out of the Soviet Union and first published in Paris over thirty years later.
Having been written under such duress adds a potency to its already innate brilliance.
I think The Master and Margarita is one of the best books ever written. I gave it to my future wife, and the future became the present.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
'Bulgakov is one of the greatest Russian writers, perhaps the greatest' Independent
Written in secret during the darkest days of Stalin's reign, The Master and Margarita became an overnight literary phenomenon when it was finally published it, signalling artistic freedom for Russians everywhere. Bulgakov's carnivalesque satire of Soviet life describes how the Devil, trailing fire and chaos in his wake, weaves himself out of the shadows and into Moscow one Spring afternoon. Brimming with magic and incident, it is full of imaginary, historical, terrifying and wonderful characters, from witches, poets and Biblical tyrants to the beautiful, courageous Margarita, who will…