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The Master And Margarita (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Mikhail Bulgakov , Larissa Volokhonsky , Richard Pevear
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

6 Sep 2007 Penguin Classics

Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita is a fiercely satirical fantasy that remained unpublished in its author's home country for over thirty years.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

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (6 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140455469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140455465
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kiev in May 1891. The Master and Margarita, a fantasy novel about the devil and his henchmen set in modern Moscow, is generally considered his masterpiece. Fame, at home and abroad, was not to come until a quarter of a century after his death at Moscow in 1940.

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
105 of 108 people found the following review helpful
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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142 of 148 people found the following review helpful
I posted this review on the US Amazon site, but thought I would reproduce it here, hopefully it will be useful.


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
'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
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 A Customer
This book is the most important one I've read in my life. It can answer such questions as what is the meaning of life or why are we here for, however, you must be able to read between the lines. Moreover, I appreciate that it might be very difficult, if not impossible, to understand the plot if you haven't lived in the USSR at least for a while.
The composition of the story line is extremely unusual. The first part seems to be a mixture of someone's crazy dreams, events which happen while they cannot be happening; however, everything falls into place in the second part, which is at the same time even more increadible. It is the second part where you see not only the explanation of the event in the first part, but also everything that happens, and why it happens, in life in general.
I've read this book so many times, that I know some parts by heart. And the more I read it, the more new secrets it opens, and the more enjoyable it is.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth the hype ?
Its starts off excellently but the ending was a little bit of a fizzle.
Published 7 days ago by Simon
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy
Haven't finished yet as got diverted to other books. It was a book club choice and is quite heavy going. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pat foster
5.0 out of 5 stars bookish
Book like
Published 1 month ago by tabitha
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The book was in very good condition
Published 1 month ago by Miriam
5.0 out of 5 stars everyone in my book club enjoyed
Shipped very quickly, everyone in my book club enjoyed it
Published 1 month ago by Mr. David H. Young
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thank you
Published 1 month ago by jwach
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
The best book I have read although i have read some classics this is up there with Alice in Wonderland Crime n punishment
Published 3 months ago by W. Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars True masterpiece
I am not a great reader although when I do get the chance to delve into something I like it to keep me spellbound from cover to cover, this certainly does! Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. G. Campbell
1.0 out of 5 stars Carpe diem
How on earth this rubbish found publishers and translators, even readers is beyond me. Life is far too short for Bulgakov.
Published 5 months ago by Stig Bjarne Hansen
5.0 out of 5 stars Moscow shakes at Satan's tread...
I don't normally reread novels, but it had been about thirty years since I first read this and I could remember how much it had impressed me. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ben Griam
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