Cover of: The Master and Margarita | Михаил Булгаков


  • Translator
    Michael Karpelson

About the Book

The battle of competing translations, a new publishing phenomenon which began with One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, now offers two rival American editions of Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. Mirra Ginsburg's (Grove Press) version is pointedly grotesque: she delights in the sharp, spinning, impressionistic phrase. Her Bulgakov reminds one of the virtuoso effects encountered in Zamyatin and Babel, as yell as the early Pasternak's bizarre tale of Heine in Italy. Translator Michael Glenny, on the other hand, almost suggests Tolstoy. His (Harper & Row) version is simpler, softer, and more humane. The Bulgakov fantasy is less striking here, but less strident, too. Glenny: ""There was an oddness about that terrible day...It was the hour of the day when people feel too exhausted to breathe, when Moscow glows in a dry haze..."" Ginsburg: ""Oh, yes, we must take note of the first strange thing...At that hour, when it no longer seemed possible to breathe, when the sun was tumbling in a dry haze..."" In any case, The Master and Margarita, a product of intense labor from 1928 till Bulgakov's death in 1940, is a distinctive and fascinating work, undoubtedly a stylistic landmark in Soviet literature, both for its aesthetic subversion of ""socialist realism"" (like Zamyatin, Bulgakov apparently believed that true literature is created by visionaries and skeptics and madmen), and for the purity of its imagination. Essentially the anti-scientific, vaguely anti-Stalinist tale presents a resurrected Christ figure, a demonic, tricksy foreign professor, and a Party poet, the bewildered Ivan Homeless, plus a bevy of odd or romantic types, all engaged in socio-political exposures, historical debates, and supernatural turnabouts. A humorous, astonishing parable on power, duplicity, freedom, and love.

About the Edition

Moscow, 1929: a city that has lost its way amid corruption and fear, inhabited by people who have abandoned their morals and forsaken spirituality. But when a mysterious stranger arrives in town with a bizarre entourage that includes a giant talking cat and a fanged assassin, all hell breaks loose. Among those caught up in the strange and inexplicable events that transpire in the capital are the Master, a writer whose life has been destroyed by Soviet repression, and his beloved Margarita. Their adventures reveal a story that began two thousand years ago in ancient Jerusalem - and its resolution will decide their fate.

Considered one of the finest creations of Russian literature in the 20th century, The Master and Margarita is an amazing work of fantasy, a love story, a biting satire on Soviet life, and a lot more. Mikhail Bulgakov’s last book and crowning achievement, it has been written in secrecy, burned and restored, and banned for decades. Its author, who worked on it until his final days, never saw it in print. This new translation faithfully reproduces the style and idiomatic flow of the text, so that the English-speaking audience may fully enjoy Bulgakov’s masterpiece.

Includes annotations and commentary.
(back cover)

First Sentence

Once upon an unusually hot hour of sunset in spring, two gentlemen appeared at Patriarch's Ponds in Moscow.

Edition Notes

Copyright Date
Translation Of
Мастер и Маргарита
Translated From

The Physical Object

Number of pages
9 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
11.2 ounces

ID Numbers

Open Library
Internet Archive
Library Thing

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