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The Master and Margarita (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 28 Sep 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014118373X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141183732
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,180,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"My favorite novel--it's just the greatest explosion of imagination, craziness, satire, humor, and heart." --Daniel Radcliffe --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940) was a doctor, a novelist, a playwright, a short-story writer, and the assistant director of the Moscow Arts Theater. His body of work includes "The White Guard," "The Fatal Eggs," "Heart of a Dog," and his masterpiece, "The Master and Margarita," published more than twenty-five years after his death and cited as an inspiration for Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses." Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have produced acclaimed translations of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gogol, and Bulgakov. Their translation of "The Brothers Karamazov" won the 1991 PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize. They are married and live in Paris, France. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 114 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Dillon on 4 Sep 2000
Format: Paperback
There is little that I could write to do sufficient justice to such an inspired flight of the imaginaltion. The dual settings in the novel of the fantastical last few days in the life of Jesus Christ compared to the chaos of a timeless Moscow held in thrall by the Devil in the guise of a cheap stage magican. The plots are so diverse and the characters are totally compelling (amongst them is Behemoth a cigarette smoking, gun toting, 5ft Black cat!) I have never read anything so darkly compelling yet wickedly funny that works on so many levels. I have read this book at least once a year for the last 6 years and I think I will continue to do so until I have picked it clean, and that will take me good while yet. Bulgakov is the true Master.
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144 of 150 people found the following review helpful By verandah on 14 Nov 2009
Format: Paperback
I posted this review on the US Amazon site, but thought I would reproduce it here, hopefully it will be useful.

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I read the Michael Glenny version in the late sixties, and have loved it deeply ever since. Having lent my copy to a friend I bought a new one some years ago - and I thought I would try the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky version.

This couple evidently know the nuances of Russian culture but they simply can't write idiomatic English and their translation therefore loses the spontaneity and fun of the Glenny version.

Compare these early paragraphs: by Pevear and Volokhonsky

'What the devil does he want?' thought Homeless, frowning.
'And you were agreeing with your interlocutor?' inquired the stranger, turning to Homeless on his right.
'A hundred per cent!' confirmed the man, who was fond of whimsical and figurative
expressions.
'Amazing!' exclaimed the uninvited interlocutor and, casting a thievish glance around and
muffling his low voice for some reason, he said:
'Forgive my importunity, but, as I understand, along with everything else, you also do not
believe in God?' he made frightened eyes and added: 'I swear I won't tell anyone!'
'No, we don't believe in God,' Berlioz replied, smiling slightly at the foreign tourist's fright, but we can speak of it quite freely.'
The foreigner sat back on the bench and asked, even with a slight shriek of curiosity:
'You are - atheists?!'
Yes, we're atheists,' Berlioz smilingly replied, and Homeless thought, getting angry: 'Latched on to us, the foreign goose"

With these by Michael Glenny:

'Ah, how interesting!' exclaimed the foreigner.
'What the hell does he want?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. Meadows on 31 May 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bulgakov's satire on Russian life under Stalin underwent some significant changes between its first draft and the "final" version we have in print here. He played around with the title a lot before settling on the final one we have now, and this somewhat evident, as the title characters are noticeable by the absence in the first half of the novel. The story rather focusses on an unholy trinity that have wandered into Moscow and start wreaking havoc amonst the population.The style of writing requires close attention; it's not a book for the casual reader, and very often I found myself having to go back a few pages in order to pick up a reference I had glossed over but which played an important part in the plot.

The story begins with two atheists in a park discussing the non-existence of Jesus, and dismissing Immanuel Kant's "proofs" of the existence of God. Along comes a mysterious stranger who is delighted by their atheism, but kindly points out that, after having had breakfast with Kant and having been witness to Jesus' condemnation by Pontius Pilate that Jesus is as real as the devil. Proof of this is then provided with a macabre prophecy which is fulfilled in intimate detail shortly thereafter.

This is more than a simple story; and the pall of totalitarianism hangs over the novel like a dark shroud thrown over the city of Moscow by Woland. Not being very familiar with this era of history, I am sure there are many references and metaphors which I missed, but which would enhance the reading experience of those more enlightened than I.

For me, the two most enjoyable scenes in the book were the more fantastical ones, with Woland's séance and the great ball, as they both contained some brilliant imagery, combined with scathing satire.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Blackman on 25 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback
The devil is unleashed in Stalinist Moscow. The funny thing is that while the devil kills, maims and causes havoc throughout the city, he is very far from a traditional definition of evil. In fact, the character struck me as being more like an avenging angel, punishing people for various sins such as cowardice, greed, vanity or lust.

One thing I found amazing about the book was that I believed in the characters and the action, even when it was absolutely absurd, as it frequently was. I think Bulgakov achieved this by focusing on the ordinary aspects of the situation, not on the absurd. For example, when a cat jumps on a subway car and attempts to pay ten kopecks to the conductress, Bulgakov adds in little details like the fact that he grabbed hold of a handrail and paid through a window "open on account of the stuffiness". By reminding readers of familiar things like this, he makes the situation seem more real.

This is the kind of book that you could probably read several times and get new layers of meaning each time. The character of Pontius Pilate appears throughout the book, including at the beginning and the end, and was the subject of a book written by the Master and a story told by the devil to prove the existence of Jesus to a doubting literature professor just before he predicts (or engineers?) the professor's decapitation by a tram. Decapitation is a repeated motif, as are sin and punishment.
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