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The Master and Margarita Paperback – March 19, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 565 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This uncensored translation of Bulgakov's posthumously published masterpiece of black magic and black humor restores its sliest digs and sharpest jabs at Stalin's regime, which suppressed it. Writing in a punning, soaring prose thick with contemporary historical references and political irony, Bulgakov (1891-1940) did not make things easy for future translators. The story itself is demanding: the arrival of the Devil and his entourage in Stalin's Moscow frames a Faustian tale of a suppressed writer (the Master) and his devoted lover (his Margarita), set against a realistic narrative?the Master's rejected manuscript?of Pontius Pilate's police state in Jerusalem. An immediate contemporary classic when it was first serialized in Moscow in censored form in 1967-68, the novel suffered in its previous English translations, which were either incomplete or stylistically loose. This new translation, with its accuracy and depth, finally does justice to the politically and verbally outrageous qualities of the original. Careful footnotes explain and contextualize Bulgakov's dense allusions to, and in-jokes about, life under Stalin.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This annotated version of Bulgakov's 1966 novel in which the devil pays a visit to Moscow is translated from the most accurate Russian sources. This edition also contains notes on the text.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 19, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679760806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679760801
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (565 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've always been a fan of Russian novels, ever since I read my first Dostoevsky novel at the age of 10...(okay, it was a Classics Illustrated comic book version of Crime and Punishment!)but had never run across anything by Bulgakov until a few years ago. A Russian friend of mine really pressed me to read the book. I bought it, but it just stayed on the shelf until a few weeks ago. All I can say is, I didn't know what I was missing. Master and Margarita is a wickedly funny, sad, frightening, and ultimately haunting masterpiece of fiction.
Bulgakov was one of the first generation of Soviet writers who flourished in the 20s, during the short lived Soviet Experimental movement, and then suffered horribly after the stregnthening of Stalin's regime. Bugakov was primarily a man of the Theater, and something of a theatrical quality hangs on to this book. The chapters have an almost tableaux style construction. When the Stalinist purges began, Bulgakov was began work on Master and Margarita, pretty much to please himself. He knew that he would never live to see it published.
The novel itself is nearly impossible to describe. It consists of three separate plots. On the surface is the visit to Moscow, of the Devil in the guise of a professor named Woland, and his henchmen, two grotesque disfigured men, a naked woman and a cat who plays chess among other things. The group proceeds to essentially terrorize the city's intellectual community, mostly by exposing each character's inner hypocracy. The satire of communist society in this section is quite biting, and uproariously funny. Embedded in this story is a "novel within a novel" ...the story of Pontius Pilate and his encounter with the itinerant spiritual man, Yeshua.
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Format: Paperback
I am Russian, and have read this novel (which is my favorite Russian novel), in Russian. However, for some reason, a week ago I decided to look through Michael Glenny's translation of this novel and I was shocked by the various little mistakes in the text. In the very first dialog, one of the main characters asks for a glass of Narzan (which is a famous brand of mineral water in Russia), which M.Glenny translates as lemonade. Close, but no cigar...And it goes further like this. That leads me to believe that the translator probably was not familiar with nuances of Russian language, or may be simply didn't care. Nevertheless, I know that it had been the only one English translation available since 1967 and thanks Mr.Glenny for that. Now we have Mirra Ginsburg's more accurate translation (I have checked), which makes me happy. The novel is truly fascinating. A really remarkable person wrote it. Bulgakov was a doctor by profession, he received an exellent education in the pre-Revolutionary Russia and lived through the horrors and turmoil of the Revolution of 1917 and the Civil war. This is a wonderful satire on Communism and a biblical story. This novel populated by very interesting characters, one of them is "unknown visitor" Woland, who is the Satan visiting Moscow with his entourage. Woland is a complex figure, a diabolical seducer, father of lies - the Devil himself, but also "he, who has brought the light" - Lucifer. He laughs at the Soviet Communists, who mistakenly think that they have rooted out all evil and have build a society which is even beyond the good and evil. In the clash with Woland they watch how the "perfect" and godless society crumbles down. Please read it, and you will enjoy it, because the novel goes beyond Russian culture to the world of archetypal characters and events that have meaning to all humans.
6 Comments 167 of 170 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on August 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I suppose that I can start by saying that "The Master and Margarita" has been my favorite book for over 7 years now (that says a lot since I read quite a bit!). I don't think it is necessary to discuss the plot of the book, since you can read what the book is about by looking at the editorial reviews. However, I will comment on the various translations.
Without a doubt, the book in the original Russian is incomparable, but if you don't read Russian I would recommend the Burgin/Tiernan O'Connor translation. The first translation I ever read was Mirra Ginsburg's - although it is very charming and enjoyable, certain bits of conversation as well as almost an entire chapter are omitted from this translation. I have also read parts of Michael Glenny's translation, and I don't feel that his translation accurately relays the depth, rhythm and richness of Bulgakov's style. Burgin/Tiernan O'Connor has given the most complete and accurate translation of this work. Another superb feature of this translation is the commentary section at the end of the text, which is very helpful in understanding what influenced Bulgakov, and is especially helpful if the reader is not familiar with certain aspects of Soviet culture while the book was written (during the 1930's).
Lastly, I have to comment on the thing that I love most about "The Master and Margarita" - it is impossible to classify this book as one certain genre. This book is a philosophical and religious novel, an historical novel, a satire, a love story, an action/adventure, and a fantasy all rolled into one. Simply put, it is timeless - an original, brilliant and beautiful novel.
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