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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 21 June 2017
I love this book, a must read!
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on 12 August 2016
I loved Bulgakov’s ‘The Master and Margarita’ for its procession of surreal characters. Perhaps, none so amusing as those concerning Behemoth: an enormous, black, talking cat. From his first appearance when he hops on a tram and insists on paying his fare, to all his vodka drinking and gun wielding shenanigans, he is delightful! There are other wonderful, characters in the demonic entourage, like Azazello and Koroviev whose antics are well worth checking out. And of course, there is the devil himself – if you loved Dr Faustus then you will love his understated guise as the foreign professor, Woland.

There is too much to say about the book in one review, but I think what I liked the most (aside from the devilry) is how creativity and imagination dissolve the bland and superficial. God and the devil, bureaucrats and higher culture fall by the wayside, but the human spirit comes shining through.
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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 12 April 2017
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on 2 July 2017
Just...just read it. Really. There are no words I could give that could accurately express what this book makes the reader feel. Really, it is an anomaly. But all I guess that that is all I can say without getting into the intricacies of the plot and without revealing things that readers should find out on their own through reading this utterly pleasing, mind opening, bizarre and fantastic book. I cannot believe I hadn't read it sooner. An absolute gem of an underrated classic. I have read it twice and I'm sure as anyone else who has enjoyed this book would agree, twice isn't enough. If this book is on your list, buy it. Even if you do not personally like a lot of aspects in regards to the story, reading it cover to cover will never be a regret. One of the all time underrated greats.
Ps. The Vintage Classics Russian series edition is beautiful - truly the best copy if you like your books to be beautiful presented - everything from the cover to the font and spacing is brilliant and a joy to read - makes for a lovely inexpensive collector's edition. 100% recommended.
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on 1 January 2014
This is such a special story but in this version, it's a pity that more care was not taken to ensure correct spelling...
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on 22 March 2015
Weird story. Russian names are rather difficult to follow.
However only 30% read so far so may get better....
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on 13 September 2017
This is a stunning piece of work and deserves to be more widely read. Master, I salute you.
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on 6 July 2017
Bonkers book. Hard going at times and easy to confuse some of the Russian names but glad I stuck with it.
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on 14 March 2017
The translation could be better. It was vague in some places.
I definitely recommend this book to everyone. Now, I need to read more about this book to digest it better.
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