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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 September 2011
LOVE it! Mind blowing!
For a lot of people i know Russian literature is 'War and Peace' or 'Crime and Punishment'. Luckily, if you reading this, you are about to change that, at least for oneself, and experience a masterpiece of 20th century Modern Russian Literature.

This book is a true jewel, contemporary, witty, deep, unpredictable, very Russian! You will love it or never get to understand it. no middle point...like with anything Russian.

Enjoy!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2011
Every now and again we all come across a book which is fantastic in every way. Often it is something that has been around for decades nut somehow eluded us. As a so-called writer, these books have the paradoxical affect of compelling me to create wonderful fiction yet downhearten me in the knowledge that, even at my best, I could never match the brilliance of what I am reading.

Set in 1930s Moscow, the story centres around the devil who has appeared in the Soviet capital in the guise of a learned magician. His entourage an over-sized, vodka swilling cat, a shape-shifting illusionist and a befanged assassin; together they plan to wreak havoc. The satirical plot shifts from Moscow, where the hellish entourage seek to expose and humiliate the hypocrites espousing bourgeoisie greed, and Jerusalem at the time of Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate.

Incarcerated in a mental institution, the Master has been ruined by the literary powers and ostracised for writing a religious text, that of Pontius Pilate's execution of Jesus, and a story which is inextricably linked to the devil's presence in Moscow. Shunning his beloved mistress, Margarita, lest she be ruined too he has allowed himself to rot in solitude. When Margarita is approached by the devil with the offer to attend his Midnight Ball as hostess, opening the door for both her and the Master to get mixed up with the devil.

Russian literature can be rather impenetrable. Having previously struggled through the likes of Tolstoy and Chekov, and their beautiful yet long-winded prose, it was with a little apprehension that I picked up this novel. Whilst the plot is nowhere near as straightforward and structured as today's commercial novels, there is barely a page in this wonderful book that loses the reader. The abstract concept of the devil and his entourage's visit is brilliant; the imagery of their trickery masterful and the satire wicked. It is a story that challenges the conventions of good and evil and the boundaries of logic.

Poking fun at Soviet culture, pushing the ideals of freedom and passion in an oppressive dictatorship and exploring religious ideas in a ruthlessly atheist time was well out of step with what a Soviet writer was supposed to be doing. These things taken in the context of the time give an extra dimension to the book. Writing such a novel in the Soviet Union was incredibly dangerous. In representing Pontus Pilate as being as passively acquiescing to the devil's wishes in crucifying Jesus Christ wrote "cowardice is the most damning of vices." This was his most damning satirical point, believed to be jabbing a finger at the Soviet people, blaming their apathy to Stalin's crimes as complicity.

Bulgakov commenced his work in 1928 and burned his manuscript in 1930, convinced that he had no future as a writer in the USSR. This was a time of heavy censorship of anything the public consumed and those who dissented from the party dogma of the day, or indulged in satire, were often persecuted. Parallels with Bulgakov's struggle are depicted in the Master's character arc and brutal satire of the literary establishment, and the half-talented puppets that operated within it, is ever present through the story.

The book was never completed and when Bulgakov died in 1940 and the complete work was formed from the four drafts he had made over 12 years. He was destined to be part of one of the "not appreciated in their lifetime" artists. Censored versions appeared in the USSR whilst the novel was celebrated elsewhere in the world, even inspiring the Rolling Stones to write Sympathy for the Devil.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2012
Excellent presentation - short summary of context; short history of the text; brief glossary and notes to further contextual understanding - much better than the Kindle edition which lost me in the preface with it's self conscious and obstructive use of inclusive indicatives and articles.

The Novel - different - Faustian - Pythonesque at first - constructively and deliberately chaotic, creating a deep sense of unease; but the pathos of the characters and the bathos of the plot helps to introduce welcome relief of humour. Not an easy read for me, but worthwhile
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This is really fun-a look at what goes on behind closed doors. Like Twilight, only 50 years earlier.
Moscow, a city of deprivation and corruption. Like any city really. People going about their small-minded business, a bit of bribery here, a concession granted there
But something more is going on. Margarita is fed up with life but gets an interesting proposition from a vey feline person. Pretty soon she finds that dies queen of a coven of witches, enjoying all of the "good"things in life.
The story is exactly what it seems-that there's a hidden life behind every closed door.
It's a fun fantasy. It's also a political satire, and a prophesy of how things could be.
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on 23 January 2013
It's style is well constructed. The characters and story line to be believed.Because some are representative of well known Russians alive at the time. Suspense builds on three or four occasions during the course of the tale. Indidvidual episodes both gone into with acute background detail and well depicted.Another facet is ,it's a story within a story. Dont expect this to be concluded with the right side or what are conceived too be the right people winning.That's perhaps the only deflating end result. Yes there's no redemption here.

Bulgakov was an accomplished author,we all know that. Wether he has "cult status" is a matter for the individual reader to decide.
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This edition seems true to the original story with god interpretation.
Love this story and it's place in Russian history and Mikhail Bulgakov's struggle to maintain his writing and keep out of prison.
First time I read this story I thought it terribly sad and the 2nd time I thought it was hilariously funny so see how this 3rd book feels.
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on 30 August 2013
Crazy fantasy novel, which has especially great depth if you know your Russian history (which I really don't). Chosen by a Russian member of the reading group I'm in. We really enjoyed it. Margarita is a fantastic character.
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on 21 February 2012
I ordered this book for my wife who is Ukrainian. It was one of the books she studied at school, then of course written in Russian. She has found it immensly enjoyable in English, as it has bought back many memories for her.
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on 7 October 2012
The delivery was very fast, the quality of the product is really good although it's so cheap. The book is one of the best ever, a real masterpiece. I would recommend it to everyone!
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on 13 May 2013
Everyone should at least try to read this book. We shouldn't discuss the tastes, but in my very subjective opinion, this is a very universal an beautiful book.
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