Mikhail Bulgakov – The Master and Margarita

Just started reading a startlingly different book “The Master and Margarita” by Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov.

I’d never heard of him or the book before I picked it up from my mother who is doing a University of the Third Age (U3A) course in Russian Literature. She was given the book by an old maths and physics teacher of mine from school, who was in turn given it by his philosopher brother. An always interesting feature of much Russian literature is understanding the prevailing political censorship and/or patronage context – and the punishments for transgression – at the time it was written. This certainly applies to M&M.

M&M was first published in Russian in 1966 and in English in 1995, but was written in the final years up to his death in 1940. Born in 1891, between 1922 and his death, Bulgakov had in fact written many hybrid books and dramas of various genres playing satirical games with or against his censors, many now available in Russian and English.

All I can say so far is M&M’s seriously weird and compelling. Some cross between Salman Rushdie Satanic Verses and Neil Gaiman American Gods but written in 1930’s Russia!

I may be distracted for a while, but I’ll be back.

2 thoughts on “Mikhail Bulgakov – The Master and Margarita”

  1. Marvelous writing, from the opening lines to “…Annushka has already bought the sunflower oil”. Mikhail Afanasyevich is one of my favourite authors and this is (for me) one of his best works. I’d also recommend his ‘Heart of a Dog’. If you’re ever in Moscow there’s a weird little house museum where he lived and wrote a lot of the ‘The Master and Margarita’ that’s worth a visit (Bolshaya Sadovaya ulitsa no. 10) especially as the Patriach’s ponds, where a key scene occurs, is just around the corner.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. Still reading on through other interruptions, not finding the quality time I need, but I will. Coincidentally, I have worked in Russia including 4 or 5 trips to Moscow, and a Russian colleague also pointed out that the various locations were “a thing” amongst Russian fans, of which he is also one. On my list for a next visit.

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