BOOKS: "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov

Has anyone read this book?

A classmate of mine formed a book club and chose this book; we read it, but none of us had any background knowledge of the book or the author, or even much on the history of Soviet Russia. I’m interested in discussing the intentions of the novel and its contemporary applications.

It’s a wonderful novel, and there’s a lot to discuss… Since you seem interested in the history behind the work itself, from what I remember it took a good long while to come to light, and even then as an underground/samizdat work considering its take on the Soviet establishment. The Penguin edition has a foreword describing much of this, so if you can get ahold of it you may find some of your questions answered.

The Master and Margarita is something of a meeting-point between the classic Russian novel (say, Dostoevsky) and the Faust legend. It’s indisputably Russian, even Soviet, and satirizes its own national character frequently (for another great Soviet satire, check out the science-fiction movie Kin Dza Dza; I believe it’s on Google video subtitled); but for all that it’s also greatly concerned with the spiritual and especially the diabolical.

I don’t really know of any contemporary applications it might have other than being a timeless classic. And of course, it’s just a great read on its own :slight_smile:

Do you have any idea how much of himself Bulgakov puts into the novel? I initially thought Woland was a satirical look at Stalin, but considering the sympathy with which he is treated and, as I read in passing, the fact that Stalin himself was a fan of Bulgakov’s work, I’m second guessing myself. I wondered later if I was reading Bulgakov’s thoughts in Woland’s voice.

That would go a long way in explaining the theology of the book, its weird Christology, and its conception of right and wrong (“the worst sin is cowardice,” etc.).

It is a strange book. He concieves of Christ and Satan working for the same goal. I don’t know whether I liked it but it was interesting though.

But the Jesus of this novel seems completely impotent. He has to seek the Devil’s approval before his ends are met. It’s as if the Devil is the only truly supernatural power, and Jesus (“Yeshua Ha-Nozri” in this book) is just a glorified man. There is not “God” to speak of.

Yes, I hated the Christology of the author. That is the reason why I am hesitant to say whether I liked it or not. Up until the author began to reveal his story about Jesus I liked it but when he began to speak about Jesus and the crucifixion it just left me fealing cold.

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