The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Posted August 30, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Classic, Magical Realism / 0 Comments

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovTitle: The Master and Margarita (Goodreads)
Author: Mikhail Bulgakov
Translator: Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear
Published: Vintage, 1967
Pages: 384
Genres: Classic, Magical Realism
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I’m going to be honest; I have no idea how to review a book like The Master and Margarita. I was looking forward to reading another Russian classic but I don’t think anyone can be fully prepared for a book like this. The whole book is based around a visit by the Devil to two passionately atheistic Russians. While this is an overly simplified synopsis it really is basis of the entire book; if I really want to write a fully detailed overview of this book it would include a black cat, an assassin, a naked witch, Jesus and Pontius Pilate in one very bizarre novel. I read this book about a week ago but I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, there is a lot going on within the book to really be able to give this a review that would give it justice.

To simplify this book I’m going to break down the book into three different elements; the Professor’s talk with the Berlioz and Bezdomny, the section involving the Master and his lover Margarita and lastly the novel about Pontius Pilate. At first glance all these sections may seems like they don’t link together, but when the Professor or the devil challenges the two’s concepts of atheism the conversation leads to the book about Pilate which happens to be a novel written by the Master and the book comes together in a weird, philosophical novel with shades of slapstick comedy.

I tend to write short reviews because I don’t want to spoil novels and want to write easy, accessible reviews; so if I write anything more about the plot I would have to write  a lot, too much for a short review so I’m going to stop talking about the book and start talking about my opinions of it. While reading this novel I was completely absorbed in the writing, but this meant I continued reading without stopping to really think about the book. In the end my head was swimming with so many thoughts of this book I wasn’t sure how I felt. Now that I’ve sorted my thoughts all I really can say it’s one of those books you just have to read to fully understand the effect of it.

While it took me a while to fully sort my thoughts of this book, I really did enjoy it. It’s one of those books like Slaughterhouse-Five where you can’t really rate or review it until you have had a good long think about all the concepts this book is trying to get across. I highly recommend experiencing this novel; it is like nothing I’ve ever read before. The wacky nature of this book will keep you reading but the philosophical ideas will help you enjoy this novel. I don’t think any review will ever do justice to this classic; especially not mine so my only advice and the only thing you really need to know about this book is ‘Just read it.’

0 responses to “The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

  1. The Classics Club Blog

    This sounds intriguing. I love reviews that just have to say “read this.” Thanks for not giving away any spoilers as well! -Sarah

  2. A Devilish Question: « projects and readalongs

    […] a tell-tale sign of a book worth reading. (Michael Kitto over at Literary Exploration writes similarly, I’m going to be honest; I have no idea how to review a book like The Master and […]

  3. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a long while, but – I’m ashamed to admit this. The only thing keeping me from it is the cover. The one you have pictured here is rather abstract, I kind of like it. But every time I look for it in a bookstore, it’s some awful picture of the black cat with a forked tongue. I just don’t want that staring up at me from my bedside table. I do not! Anyway – this is on my classics club list as well, in an effort to get me to ignore the cover and read the gd book already.

  4. Brona

    I have M & M and Slaugterhouse Five on my TBR list – sounds like I will have to wait for a time when I’m not quite so tired and brain-befuddled to appreciate them!

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