Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov

From Goodreads:  One of the greatest novels ever to come out of the Soviet Union. A parable on power and its corruption, on good and evil and on human frailty and the strength of love. Equal parts fable, fantasy, political satire and slapstick.

My Thoughts:  Just a heads up, this is a really difficult book to review so I apologize if it's kind of vague.  It has been many years since I last read this and I didn't realize how much I had forgotten.  I had originally read it in a 20th Century Russian Lit course while I was in college and I absolutely loved it.  This is a satire that at times is funny and others kind of creepy.  I actually didn't remember being creepy but it kind of was.  It's definitely a dark story but there is an odd sense of hope at the end.  The premise is that the devil and his entourage visit Moscow during Stalin's reign and, while there, wreak havoc on most anyone they come into contact with.  People die strange deaths and disappear into thin air much like people did at that time though in Bulgakov's story it is the work of the devil, not the state.  What's really interesting is that while the story takes place in Stalin's Moscow, there is no mention of him at all.  The crazy things that happen are the work of the devil rather than the insane person in power.  There is also a second story about 'the master' who is writing a book about Pontius Pilate, his muse Margarita, and their encounters with the devil and his gang.  There are a ton of characters in this book and I had keep referring to a list of them I found online so that I didn't get mixed up.  Despite that, the characters are all well-written and the devil and his entourage are really a funny group.  Actually, all the characters are quite eccentric which just makes the story even better.  The story does jump around a bit so I really had to take my time reading so I could follow the story and all the characters.  Overall, I still really love this book and if you have any Russian literature, or classics in general, I highly recommend this book.  5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. This is definitely one I'll have to try sometime. Though as I just finished Anna Karenina, I think I'll have to wait a bit before I get into more Russian Lit! As much as I love it, I have to take it in smallish doses.

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