Top critical review
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on 7 March 2014
In my opinion, this vapid, dream-like, 'masterpiece' is nothing more than a rambling, random, chaos of events unsupported and unsustained by any meaningful characterisation or plot. It deceives the reader with colourful and imaginative fragmentary shows of artistry just as Woland, Bulgakov's tinpot Satan, deceives the muscovite masses, and laughs at them.
How wonderful the Pontius Pilate episodes, they say. I agree, the best sections of the novel , no doubt. Yet, you'd be wrong in thinking they co-ordinate whatsoever with Woland's satanic mission. It doesn't add up. That's the devil in Bulgakov - stretching credence to absurb proportions. Like a child testing his mother's patience until he's finally told to jolly well get up those stairs to bed.
I'm afraid it was well past Bulgakov's bedtime even before the awkward departure of Book 2 into implausible love story and daft, hyperkinetic ravings where wave upon wave of ridiculous mischief - playground horseplay - accumulates into a heap of phantasmal bric-a-brac that really ought to be tidied away before the grown ups get back...
Satirical? Ok, occasionally. Irreverent magical fantasy? I suppose you could call it that but utterly insubstantial as a poof of magician's smoke. I suggest Kafka, Murakami or Carroll if you're seeking genuine masters of the nightmarish and the surreal.