Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Master and Margarita
The Master and Margarita (Мастер и Маргарита) is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov.
Bulgakov started writing his most famous and critically acclaimed novel in 1928. After completing the first draft in 1936, he continued revising it until his death in 1940. A censored version of the book was first published in serialized form in 1966-1967. The first complete version was published in Moscow in 1973.
The novel alternates between two settings. The first is 1930s Moscow, which is visited by Satan in the guise of Woland, a mysterious magician of uncertain origin, who arrives with a retinue that includes a walking, talking black cat and a witch. The havoc wreaked by this group extends from the exclusive haunts of the literary elite, to the corrupt bureaucracies, to an insane asylum, where we are introduced to The Master, a mad and disillusioned author. Eventually, we are introduced to Margarita, the Master's mistress, who makes a bargain with the devil on the night of his Midnight Ball, or Walpurgisnacht, which is vividly described.
The second setting is within the pages of the Master's rejected novel, which concerns Pontius Pilate, his meeting with, recognition and abandonment of Yeshua Ha-Nosri (Jesus), and the consequences thereof. Ultimately, the novel deals with questions of good and evil, guilt and cowardice, exploring such issues as the responsibility one has to support a truth that a system or society would deny.
The novel is heavily influenced by Goethe's Faust. Part of its brilliance lies in the different levels on which it can be read, as hilarious slapstick, deep philosophical musing, and biting socio-political satire critical of the Soviet system. It even employs some macabre horror elements. It is also brilliant in that Bulgakov employs entirely different writing styles in the alternating sections. The Moscow chapters, ostensibly involving the more "real and immediate" world, are written in a fast-paced, almost farcical tone, while the Jerusalem chapters - the words of the madman's fiction - are written in a hyper-realistic style. (See Mikhail Bulgakov for the impact of the novel on other writers.)
It never reached completion, and the final chapters are draft copies (albeit late drafts) that Bulgakov pasted to the back of his manuscript. This draft status is barely noticeable to the casual reader.
Blogakov's old flat, in which parts of the novel are set, has recently become a target for Moscow based Satanist groups, who are reported creating racist graffiti, amongst other things. The building's other residents, in an attempt to deter these groups are currently intending to turn the flat into a museum of Bulgakov's life and works. Unfortunately, the residents are having trouble contacting the flats anonymous owner.
There are four published English translations of The Master and Margarita:
- Mirra Ginsburg (Grove Press, 1967)
- Michael Glenny (Harper & Row, 1967)
- Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor (Ardis, 1995)
- Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (Penguin, 1997)
Ginsburg's translation was from a censored Soviet text and is therefore incomplete. While opinions vary over the literary merits of the different translations and none of them can be considered perfect, the latter two are generally viewed as being more faithful to the nuances of the original.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details