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3.9 out of 5 stars12
3.9 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 September 2015
This is one of the greatest novels ever written, a book which you read a hundred times without ever tiring. Ever since I read it in my early teen years I was deeply in love with it - and I still am. There is not one page, not even one line, which would not be a pure perfection. Below, more of my impressions, with some very limited SPOILERS.

This book describes a visit by Satan to Moscow in late 1920s. Satan was quite busy in previous years and he neglected a little bit his Russian domains, but now he comes for an inspection (in fact an audit) - he is especially curious about this whole communism thing, which is a kind of novelty for him. For the purpose of this visit he takes form of a distinguished albeit slightly eccentric gentleman named Woland. He also brings with him an entourage of four lesser devils: Azazello, a strangely likeable demon murderer, who serves as messenger and enforcer, Hella, a somehow vampiric succubus, who is a maid, Koroviev, a fallen choir angel with a particularly nasty sense of humour, who is a page and last but definitely not least, Behemoth, a huge demonic cat-from-hell, who is Woland's jester (and also a world class @hole! - but that is only to be expected from a cat...). Together they will wreck absolute havoc in Moscow in a thunderstorm of irresistibly hilarious but also sometimes pretty nasty episodes, which will culminate during the Satan's Midnight Ball - for which the Devil, an eternal bachelor, needs to find a suitable Lady to assist him in welcoming the guests...

I will not go here in more details to not provide spoilers, but it must be said that this is one of those books which simply reached PERFECTION. There is nothing here that could be criticized. Every single page, every single line is simply PERFECT. This is an incredibly entertaining book - but which is also very touching, very profound and also contains lots of sadness. Which is understandable, considering that it was written in horrible times and in a horrible place - USSR in Stalin times...

Extremely subversive, "The Master and Margarita" was never published during Bulgakov's life and in fact, in desperation of ever seeing it published, he even burned the first version of the book - but as Satan said: "Manuscripts don't burn". After his death in 1940 copies of final version of the book survived and it was finally published in a censored edition in the 60s, before being finally released in its integrality in 1989. Being openly sceptical towards communism and having relatives who emigrated in 1919, Bulgakov was considered a "hostile element" and was closely watched and also frequently fired from various jobs - but unlike so many others he was never send to Gulag concentration camps. He had indeed one great admirer and protector - Stalin himself, who actually kept from 1940 to his death in his personal safe a copy of full text of "The Master and Margarita" and read it many times (although he never allowed it to be published). Stalin's protection assured also that when Bulgakov gave the final text to the publisher in 1939, against the expectations of his friends and family he wasn't arrested or killed - the manuscript was only rejected (after one copy was delivered to Stalin in person), but the political police didn't show. That still probably hastened Bulgakov's death - he was already very ill at that time and heart-broken he stopped fighting...

For me, "The Master and Margarita" is amongst the greatest, the most important, most profound and most touching things that were ever written. On my personal list of seven books which I would save from the destruction in case of the end of the world, it figures on fourth position - after the Bible, Sienkiewicz's "Trilogy" and "Lord of the Rings" and before "Pride and Prejudice, "Gone with the wind" and "From here to eternity".

I don't have words strong enough to praise this book and to encourage you to discover this incredible, immortal masterpiece. Reading it is a unique experience - don't miss it!
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on 30 March 2014
I love the book, but I am very disappointed with the translation. I read it in Polish, which is much closer to Russian and then in English and it's just doesn't do it for me. On top of that, some parts of the story are missing in example the story how the Master befriended Mogarycz, it is only mentioned at the end that he occupied Master's flat after he left for the clinic.
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on 19 August 2014
This is a classic, and is no light reading! If you've no idea what to expect, you will probably be confused and even a bit frustrated for the duration of Part one. After that everything comes together, and the 'book' is hard to put down. Bulgakov draws on Goethe's Faust primarily, but develops its themes in his own memorable way. Yes, it is a satire on Stalin's Russia, but not a bitter one; the mockery is often hilarious, but the interplay of this and the serious elements of humanity and morality is immensely skilful. There is so much to think about and to discuss here, that is really challenging, not least the interaction of belief and the unbelievable. I immediately want to read it again and pick up on what I know I missed the first time around. It is brilliant!
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on 21 February 2013
I was pointed towards Bulgakov some years ago by my friends in the ex Soviet Union." Heart of a Dog" was followed by "White Guard" and then I finally got a recommended translation of "Master and Margarita". I found myself gripped instantly by the black humor Bulgakov employs. This is essentially two tales in one and the author weaves us in and out of the tale of the Nazarene and Pontius Pilate and the contemporary [1924] era in Moscow. The characters are wonderfully drawn and the translator has managed to retain most of the humorous russian jokes [shutka] while keeping the story going. The destruction of the Masters career and also that of Ivan Bezdomni [homeless] for failing to accept State views on History; together with the devils bargain between Margarita and Woland to rejoin her with the Master keep us on edge as we see the corruption of the officials exploited - especially the wonderful performance at the Theatre. There is of course no happy ending - and yet the Master and Margarita do find release - thanks to an agreement between Woland and Mathew representing both the supreme forces of good and evil. Despite all the evidence to the contrary; the State rationalizes everything as a case of mass hypnosis - Stalin who admired Bulgakov culturally made it fairly plain he was not amused!!

Please read it and perservere - it is well worth the while!
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on 2 April 2014
I found the language somewhat tedious. For a better read, I definitely recommend the Vintage Classics edition, also available on Kindle.
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on 2 December 2013
I am afraid I had to give up on this book, which I hate doing. I don't class my self as stupid but I found myself getting confused as to who was who. They seemed to be referred to by more than one name. Probably because of this, I found it hard to engage with the characters. It may be to do with the translation as others in my book club didn't seem to struggle.
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on 29 April 2013
The Kindle version of the book doesn't indicate the translator. For those of you who wonder - it is translated by Hugh Aplin. I have it in "real", paper version. It is a very good translation, very true to the Russian original. However I had been trying to get Volokhonsky/Pevear translation and had to "return" this Kindle version. Luckily, the Amazon has reimbursed the money.
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on 24 September 2013
A beautiful tale of fantasy and satire, a impressionistic canvas of love and life crushed in post Revolution Russia. A must read.
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on 26 March 2016
It was time to re-visit this classic!
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on 19 December 2015
A classic. One to be read by all
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