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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the ultimate masterpiece
If I was to name one book as my favorite of all times this has got to be it. It is hugely entertaining, incredibly moving and a multi-layered description of the burocratic hell that is Moscow in the early 20th century. Needless to say the book is a classic, there will ALWAYS be burocratic hells around.
It is quite brilliant to have satan come to save the world, to...
Published on 13 Oct 2004 by Amazon Customer

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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Classics version - not the best translation
My review is less about the novel and more about the translation; while I am not a Russian speaker/reader and therefore have not read the original to be able to compare, I think that the "naturalness" of this particular English translation is not that great - the language seems stilted and slightly awkward. At first I wondered if this awkwardness was deliberate (ie that...
Published on 12 Dec 2008 by M. Maxwell


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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trust Me ! The Translation to Own, 30 Nov 2002
By 
Bruce Kendall "BEK" (Southern Pines, NC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Master & Margarita (Hardcover)
This novel belongs in its own category, for there has never been another like it. A really great novel is like a best friend. We love to see them praised and are hurt when they are attacked. I am elated to see that so many Amazon both here and in the US readers share my love for this great work (not to mention in Russia, where Bulgakov is now revered). I have been reticent to write a critique, as I really can't do it justice. Words are too meager a medium to convey my true response to this masterpiece. Suffice it to say that this has long been my first recommendation whenever anyone approached me about books I most enjoyed. Now with the appearance of Diana Burgin's and Katherine O'Connor's superb translation, I can recommend it even more unreservedly. I've read the Ginsburg and Glenny translations, as well, and have to agree with the other reviewers here who take exception to them.
The most recent is the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation, but while I admire their attempts to make the text more closely resemble the original Russian, something of the humor and drama is lost. I find this to be the case with their new translations of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky as well. Another major hindrance is that they use patrynomics in the same manner the Russian texts have. This is commendable, and preferable for a first time reader. But for someone like me, who has grown up with other translations, it really is confusing.
I envy those who can read Bulgakov and other Russian masters in the original language, but I make do with finding the best translation I can and pay heed to what native speakers have to say about the various translations. I hadn't come across any negatives about Burgin's and O'Connor's efforts until I read a review here
. The volume also contains some useful annotations, particularly helpful if you are unfamiliar with the era and with the layout of Moscow. There are also some great Bulgakov sights on the net that have detailed maps of 30's-era Moscow, for those interested in getting a clearer mental picture of the sites Bulgakov describes (Patriarchs Pond, The Aryat, etc.).
As far as placing Bulgakov in the Pantheon of Russian novelists, this novel alone propels him to the front ranks. Some of his other works, most notably Heart of a Dog and White Guard have not been adequately translated yet, so it is difficult to assess them. If you are a Pasternak fan (which I am not) you will probably enjoy White Guard, however. It is not satire, though, which in my estimation is Bulgakov's strong suit. Nor is there much humor there (at which he also excels in M&M). In fact I would be hard-pressed to come up with any other work in any literature that is as scathingly humorous and dead-on-target satirical as M&M. Burgess and Vonnegut are rungs below Bulgakov in either category. Bulgakov skewers every Moscow bureaucrat and literary hack (unfortunately in the Stalinist era most of those who maintained positions of authority in literary circles were obsequious no-talents who mouthed party-line propaganda) that ever did him harm (and these were legion). Yet there is not an ounce of vitriol involved in the skewering, which is remarkable in itself. Bulgakov had to be one of the most good-natured people ever to pick up a pen. That is the overall impression one gleans from the accounts of his contemporaries and it is evident throughout this book. Yes, stupid people behave stupidly and predictably(Annushka is Annushka ! ) but in most cases the divine forces at work here let them off the hook.
If you haven't been convinced by all these testimonials to give this novel a try, I am probably wasting space here anyway. This novel is the reason I go on reading. I hope someday to come across another like it. There aren't enough stars in the Amazon galaxy to do it justice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting classic, 16 July 2013
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I wish I had read this book many years ago before magic realism was common place. I would have been completely taken by it. Many years later this style has been imitated by many and it comes as less of a surprise and a delight. Still worth going back to the classics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Master and Margarita, 26 April 2013
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One of the best books ever written
Magical story well written -
Have it in hardback and now on EBook.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent classic book, 7 April 2013
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I would highly recommend this book to anyone trying to understand Russia and life in the Soviet Union. You can easily understand why it was banned in the Soviet period as it highlights the absurdities of everyday life. Also it shows that in a society where all were equal, some were more equal than others. Although you sometimes need to understand the background, it is highly amusing and satirical.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by the russian names..., 3 April 2013
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Predates Murakami's surrealism and takes the reader into a funny and frightening psychedelic world where you're not sure what is reality and how strong a grip the characters have on their place in this world. Written with such graphic descriptions it is easy to create the scenes in one's mind's eye enabling the reader to join the inhabitants in the dalliances with the devil....
Alot of fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A peculiar masterpiece, 21 Mar 2013
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Brilliantly funny and sly satire, by turns magical, disquieting and moving. I read it first too young yet rereading it I realised how much of its imagery has stayed with me. A great novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Master and Margarita, 29 Jun 2012
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I heard about this book on Radio 4's book review show. Kate Mosse (I think) raved about it so I thought I would give it a go. I read it rapidly as it is a gripping read. I particularly liked the interweaving narrative between the story of Christ's crucifixion and the devil's antics with the large talking cat, a naked girl and a magician! It was surreal. You've got to read it. A classic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A unique experience., 20 Nov 2014
By 
Bluecashmere. (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This is an extraordinary book, hugely inventive, containing within layers of meaning and suggestion that are likely to affect different readers very differently but will surely make an impact. It is the literary equivalent of walking through a hall of mirrors to be pitched onto a roller coaster. In truth, I found it all dramatic and unsettling, often uproariously funny but could never quite pull it all together or feel quite comfortable with the wilder flights of fantasy. It’s probably not a novel for all tastes, but a number of readers for whom I have great respect enthuse at length on its qualities. There seem to be differing views on which translation is the most faithful and idiomatic. I’m unqualified to comment but no stylistic problems seemed to me an obstacle to appreciation.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars to will evil, to do good, 28 Jan 2003
Unlike other sainted Russian authors, Bulghakov's technique is neither morbidity nor interminable didactic. The Master and Margarita is rather a giant human comedy, a burlesque in the best sense. The absurdity of Soviet rule is more vividly captured in this callously jolly(though ultimately forgiving) parable than in a thousand gulag memoirs. More accessible than Joyce, racier than Borges, this is the great work of one of the few essential authors of the 20th century.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book of all time (to date!), 30 July 1999
By A Customer
This is a story of requited and unrequited love, good versus evil, a comedy, a tragedy, and includes characters such as a quasi-human black cat, the devil, Pontius Pilate, an incarnation of Jesus Christ, corrupt politicians, the inhabitants of a lunatic asylum, and many many others. If you can cope with the Russian names (not too much of a problem, but some people find it rather off-putting), then it's an amazing read. I have read it many times, and each time it's a new adventure.
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The Master and Margarita (Vintage Classics)
The Master and Margarita (Vintage Classics) by Mikhail Bulgakov (Paperback - 1 April 2004)
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