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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleased to meet you - hope you guessed my name.
Abandon everything you thought you knew. This may appear to be a cartoonish romp featuring farcical demons, beautiful witches and Mauser-wielding cats, but Bulgakov is screwing with your mind. Is this novel a biting satire of Stalinist Russia, a damning indictment of organised religion, a critique of received truth, or is it simply The Truth? Read the book that...
Published on 22 May 1999

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63 of 69 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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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleased to meet you - hope you guessed my name., 22 May 1999
By A Customer
Abandon everything you thought you knew. This may appear to be a cartoonish romp featuring farcical demons, beautiful witches and Mauser-wielding cats, but Bulgakov is screwing with your mind. Is this novel a biting satire of Stalinist Russia, a damning indictment of organised religion, a critique of received truth, or is it simply The Truth? Read the book that inspired Mick Jagger to write Sympathy For The Devil and decide for yourself.
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63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Classics version - not the best translation, 12 Dec 2008
By 
M. Maxwell (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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 it was also present in the Russian) but having checked the first pages of a couple of other English translations of the same book, I have decided that it isn't as other versions are more readable and "authentic" English. I would suggest trying Volokhonsky & Pevear or Burgin & O'Connor's translations instead.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the ultimate masterpiece, 13 Oct 2004
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 make bad things happen to bad people and to save the last remaining good souls from destruction.
But the real beauty of the book is the wonderful book within the book, the master's masterpiece, the story of Pontius Pilate. I often read these chapters by themselves for it is a wonderfully written story of Christ and his tormentor.
Anyway, if you haven't read it, please do. if you enjoy good literature you will not be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for the more adventurous/informed reader, 21 Dec 2012
By 
Gina (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
I am so sad that I did not enjoy this book more. A historian of Soviet history and a learner of the Russian language, I really wanted to love this book as much as I know many people do. I could recognise the brilliance of the novel, and Bulgakov's mastery, but I personally found it a little too wacky. I would recommend this book to others, but maybe not to the less adventurous reader.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, and Glenny's translation is very good, 13 Jan 2000
By A Customer
You can take it on trust, this is a brilliant book. The question is which translation to get? I'd recommend this one, which reads very poetically in English. The Penguin is more faithful to the Russian ( I assume ) but less powerful, more stilted, in the English. The following quote can be found in my review of the Penguin translation also, to allow you to compare. Which one sends shivers down your spine?. "The mist that came from the Meditarranean sea blotted out the city that Pilate
so detested. The suspension bridges connecting the temple with the grim fortress of Antonia vanished, the murk descended from the sky and drowned the winged gods above the hippodrome, the crenellated Hasmonaean palace, the bazaars, the caravanserai, the alleyways, the pools ... Jerusalem, the great city, vanished as though it had never been. The mist devoured everything, frightening every living creature in Jerusalem and its surroundings. The city was engulfed by a strange cloud which had
crept over it from the sea towards the end of that day, the fourteenth of the month of Nisan."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Devillish deeds in Moscow, 9 Jan 2013
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Hard work on the first read. Complex web of goings on for which you definately need to suspend your disbelief but surprisingly entertaining in a very dark way. Will have to read it again to get the full effect.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Novel Ever, 24 Sep 2004
By 
S. Owadally "treble1999" (Cardiff, UK) - See all my reviews
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With the ingenius use of the Biblical tale of Pontius Pilate, Mikhail Bulgakov has written probably the greatest novel ever. Although I now know it is a famous book, it wasn't brought to my attention untill this year. For a 19 year old, old "cult classics" don't usually have a grand appeal, however deciding to read this was one of the best decisions of my life.
Although the story is extraordinarily bizarre and surreal, it never seems to go over-the-top when you're reading it - although you know very well that it is exceeding reality beyond any reckoning. Thus, when you are reading it, you take the shape of the book in the sense that it seems perfectly normal. The craziness, evidently, makes it very hard for a voluntary reviewer to put it into words!
If you manage to keep up with the story, and I've heard people say they couldn't, then this makes for an utterly fascinating read. The bewildering list of Russian names can easily confuise the reader, however changing the names from their originals into "Peter Jones" or "John Smith" would take the mystique away from the book and besides, names like "Nikolai Ivanovich Bosoi" just make it much more exciting! Writing a short synposis of this story is impossible, one can only explain how amazing this book is and recommend anybody with the time read it with full concentration.
The main thing about this is how the adventurous fiction is intertwined with the story of Pontius Pilate and his decision to execute the prisoner "Yeshua Ha-Nostri". The links and the connections between the two tales are gloriously played out by Bulgakov who seems to return to the Pilate story from the story of a black magician's visit to Moscow with immaculate frequency. Come the end chapters of this book, the satisfaction of realising what has happened is one I have never been met with by any book.
This is a must-read book for anyone!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly five-star masterpiece, 8 Jan 2013
By 
D. Stobbs "David Stobbs" (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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Michael Glenny's translation of Mikhail Bulgarkov's widely acclaimed masterpiece accurately reflects the author's narrative, according to one of my highly competent students of English as a foreign language whose mother tongue is Russian.

Bulgarkov weaves a story of remarkable complexity, alternating between the bizarre and the credible. He variously and apparently effortlessly combines humour with tragedy and to some extent mysticism.

This is a book for the serious reader; if you are such, it's likely that you'll be captivated by Bulgarkov's writing - surely the work of a genius.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go for the Glenny translation!, 23 Jun 2009
By 
Rebecca Bartleet (Cornwall, UK) - See all my reviews
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There are several very accomplished and detailed reviews of this wonderful book here, and I am not going to attempt to write one myself. I just wanted to say that in my opinion the Michael Glenny translation is the best by a long way.

This was the version that I read first, but on one of my many re-readings I tried another. I forget which one, but I had to abandon it, it made a travesty of the book I loved so much. I have looked through the Penguin copy, and it strikes me as being rather stilted and awkward; in addition the notes are very distracting and make it difficult to immerse oneself fully in the story.

Glenny's version is much more flowing and natural, so that one forgets completely that one is reading a translation at all. Read and enjoy!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I prefer this translation, 12 Oct 2000
By A Customer
I've read this translation, and compared it to the recent Penguin, and I much prefer Glennys', since it is a translation, not a transliteration. The Penguin is more scholarly, and more true to the Russian syntax, but far less poetic. In fact, it's hardly poetic at all. The Harvil edition packs a real poetic punch, and reads very very fluently in English, where the Penguin is like reading Russian through a veil.
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The Master And Margarita (Everyman's Library Classics)
The Master And Margarita (Everyman's Library Classics) by Mikhail Bulgakov (Hardcover - 19 Mar 1992)
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