I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: The Master and Margarita

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
The Master and Margarita
by Mikhail Bulgakov

Plot Summary:

Suppressed in the Soviet Union for twenty-six years, Mikhail Bulgakov's masterpiece is an ironic parable of power and its corruption, good and evil, and human frailty and the strength of love. Featuring Satan, accompanied by a retinue that includes the large, fast-talking, vodka drinking black tom cat Behemoth, the beautiful Margarita, her beloved - a distraught writer known only as the Master - Pontius Pilate, and Jesus Christ, The Master and Margarita combines fable, fantasy, political satire, and slapstick comedy into a wildly entertaining and unforgettable tale that is commonly considered one of the greatest novels ever to come out of the Soviet Union.


I really didn't know what I was getting into with this book.  And I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  On the one hand, the whimsy and absurdity of the story is pretty captivating - it's interesting to read all the offbeat things that happen, but on the other hand, I found it rather difficult to connect to the story.  The characters, the plot and even the meaning of the story is wrapped in ambiguity to me because it is seems so allegorical.  The plot about Pontius Pilate was the most straightforward part of the novel, and a very intriguing look at what might have really happened when Pilate allowed Jesus to be crucified.  There are great ideas in this book that made me think, and the representations of Satan and his retinue was surprisingly appealing and funny.

Even though I found it mystifying at times, it is very entertaining, with a wide cast of colorful characters who sometimes are paraded past quickly, but for the most part are very memorable. (Although it is difficult to keep track of their names sometimes!)  While reading I found the novel fascinating and I was always eager to find out more, but ultimately after finishing the story, I find I was very little invested emotionally, and unfortunately I don't think this story is really for me.

My second read for the Classics Club Challenge

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  1. "The Master and Margarita" is one of my favorite books! I read it a couple of years ago, in college, so I really need to re-read it. I found it a bit difficult and confusing as well, but I think it's one of those books that you need to read a second time to really get into the story, catch all the details, and truly enjoy it.
    I recommend you watch the Russian adaptation of the novel - a TV series of 10 episodes made in 2005. It's absolutely genius. I've watched it 3 times, and it can really help you understand the book better. :)

    1. That's a good idea actually, the TV series will be an interesting watch and I would appreciate understanding this book better. Thanks for the comment!

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