Back Seat Book Club – Book Twenty-One: The Master & Margarita

Author: Mikhail Bulgakov, Translators: Katherine Tiernan O’Connor & Diana Burgin

Published: 1966

Vintage

Plot Summary – .Combining two distinct yet interwoven parts-one set in ancient Jerusalem, one in contemporary Moscow-the novel veers from moods of wild theatricality with violent storms, vampire attacks & a Satanic ball; to such somber scenes as the meeting of Pilate & Yeshua, & the murder of Judas in the moonlit garden of Gethsemane; to the substanceless, circus-like reality of Moscow. Its central characters, Woland (Satan) & his retinue-including the vodka-drinking, black cat, Behemoth; the poet, Ivan Homeless; Pontius Pilate; & a writer known only as The Master, & his passionate companion, Margarita-exist in a world that blends fantasy & chilling realism, an artful collage of grostesqueries, dark comedy & timeless ethical questions. Though completed in 1940, The Master & Margarita wasn’t published in Moscow until 1966, when the 1st part appeared in the magazine Moskva. It was an immediate & enduring success: Audiences responded with great enthusiasm to its expression of artistic & spiritual freedom.

Quick Thoughts:

  • Scott is not a hipster, just cooler than popular fiction. There’s a difference
  • The Devil went down to Moscow…to screw with people… for some reason.
  • ‘Pretty Goshdarned Russian’ literature.
  • Bad intentions and good results.
  • Jesus; really nice crazy guy
  • Black Mass(?) Dead dude party. Being a witch is fun.
  • Talking Cats and psychopaths
  • I give up on Russian names
  • Shout-outs to Faust
  • Satire hasn’t aged well/osmosed into popculture well.
  • Sympathy for the Devil. Not literally, just the Stones tune.
  • ‘Manuscripts don’t burn’

Recorded: 05/28/14

“But would you kindly ponder this question: What would your good do if 
evil didn’t exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows 
disappeared? After all, shadows are cast by things and people. Here is the 
shadow of my sword. But shadows also come from trees and living beings. 
Do you want to strip the earth of all trees and living things just because 
of your fantasy of enjoying naked light? You’re stupid.” 

Next Time: Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge

Play

08. June 2014 by Scott
Categories: Back Seat Book Club, Shows | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. I like how you discuss a book that is religious and political and then promise to delete any comments that are religious or political, like this one.

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