Mikhail Bulgakov

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Mikhail Bulgakov

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Ago 5, 2006, 6:06pm

The master and Margarita is one of my favorite Russian novels. I've been planning to re-read to see if it as good as I remember.

Ago 5, 2006, 6:16pm

I haven't read this one yet but it's on my wishlist. I can't find a copy used anywhere here yet :(
I have heard it excellent and look forward to it.

Ago 5, 2006, 6:22pm

The Master and Margarita is really great. I want to re-read at least some parts of it.

Ago 8, 2006, 3:59pm

I haven't read themaster and margarita in 4 or 5 years but I am constantly recommending it to friends. I read heart of the dog more recently and didn't find it to be as imaginative and as entertaining as Master and Margarita. I kept getting the feeling while reading Heart of the dog that I was missing out on some of the allusions and jokes because I have such a poor understanding of early soviet life.

Ago 27, 2006, 10:45am

I read M&M this summer, and loved it - fantastic book. Which translations are you people reading? I read the Pevear and Volokhonsky edition, and I like their writing style, but does anyone have any opinions of which are the best ones?

Reading Heart of a Dog some months ago, I got the same feeling as sandfly; it was funny, but I felt I missed out on some parts of it (I guess especially the satire bits can be hard to get).

I have bought some other books by Bulgakov (e.g. White Guard), but haven't had the chance to read them yet.

6drclare Primeira Mensagem
Set 19, 2006, 3:16pm

I first read M&M 8 years ago - as part of an English course at University called 'Power, Pleasure, Perversion, but I don't remember which this text was nominated as! - and have re-read it several times since, and each time love it more and more. I recently found a copy of (Heart of a Dog), which again I loved. These are obviously text of an obscure taste, as I don't know anyone else who likes them, but I feel I can read them again and again and always find more within them. I am yet to read White Guard, but am really looking forward to it. Bulgakov is one of my favourite Russian authors, along with Nabokov and Dostoyevsky.

Set 20, 2006, 11:17pm

The Master and Margarita is one of my favorite books, and it's the one that comes to mind if someone presses me to name my one favorite book. I love its blend of satire, humor, and fantasy. I love the characters. The three narrative strands are compelling: the visit of the devil and his entourage to Moscow; the story of the Master and his beloved Margarita; and the tale of Pontius Pilate and Yeshua.
I think I've read it about 4 times, in 3 different translations. I first read the Michael Glenny translation; then, the Mirra Ginsburg version published by Grove. I thought the Ginsburg translation was noticeably better than the Glenny. Finally, I read the more recent translation (1995) by Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor, and I think this one is the best of the three. (Note I do not know Russian, so I can't speak as to the accuracy of the translation, just its style and readability.) So this is the translation I'd recommend. It's published by Vintage. (I'm not familiar with the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky, so can't comment on that one.)

I haven't read M&M in several years. I think it's time to add it to my reading queue again.

Nov 14, 2006, 3:02pm

Isn't Buglakov Ukranian? I had a co-worker at the bookstore who was Ukranian and when asked what we had in the store from the Ukraine she pointed out Master and the Margarita.

Nov 15, 2006, 5:21am

Bulgakov was born in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, but moved to Moscow when 21.

I've just finished re-reading The Master and Margarita and it is hard to say much, other than it is worth anybody's time reading or re-reading it.

Jul 4, 2007, 12:12pm

Nabokov is my favorite writer, but The Master Margarita is my favorite book. It's too good in fact, making me leery of other Bulgakov titles out fear of disappointment.

I never claimed I was rational.

Editado: Nov 11, 2007, 3:20pm

the Master and Margarita was the first of his i read and was blown away by. i've read Heart of a Dog and i thought it was pretty funny, but i agree some of the alegorys were lost on me. next i got a nice copy recently of The Fatal Eggs with an intro by Doris Lessing and translated by Huge Aplin which i'm looking forward to

Abr 7, 2008, 10:37am

Bulgakov is great. I think of Heart of a Dog and Fatal Eggs as science fiction really. Although they have subtle humor and well-developed characters--character development in these two remind me of Oblomov by Goncharov. And some have gone so far as to call Bulgakov a science fiction writer. I think that's not precise considering his range, with White Guard and Master and Margarita. Fatal Eggs and Heart of a Dog were likely influenced by the fact he was a physician/had some scientific training, I believe. I consider White Guard a war novel, and harder to 'get into than' the other books he's written. Master and Margarita is the best though and I it would take too long to describe why...just a must read and definitely in my top 10 books ever.

Abr 10, 2008, 8:25am

I just started reading Master and Margarita last night. So many people here have said it is great, I hope am not disappointed. It's certainly not like any other Russian literature I've read;)


Abr 20, 2008, 7:30am

I'm afraid I didn't get on with it at all. I've posted a short review on this site, but I just could not get on with the strangeness of it and have given up about two thirds of the way through.

Out 8, 2008, 2:51am

I'd second MaggieO's recommendation of the Mirra Ginsburg translation. Much better than the
Glenny. I'll have to look at the Burgin/O'Connor

Out 9, 2008, 10:02am

There's a nice Master and Margarita website at http://cr.middlebury.edu/public/russian/Bulgakov/public_html/ . It includes a brief section the relative merits of all but the most recent three translations, at http://cr.middlebury.edu/public/russian/Bulgakov/public_html/Engeditions.html , and there is a lot more on this topic to be found on the Internet, including: http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/3OHKE22TAHMOO. The full 1997 Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation is on-line at http://lib.ru/BULGAKOW/master97_engl.txt , and this makes an interesting comparison with the Glenny version I have at home - plus it includes notes.

Abr 27, 2009, 1:49pm

I actually prefer Michael Glenny's translations of Bulgakov.

I had the Mirra Ginsburg translation of Master and The Margarita in my shelf for years, reading the first few pages from time to time and giving up.

A blogger clued me in to the Glenny translation here.

Unfortunately, it's out of print in the US. I got the Everyman hardcover edition for Christmas via Ebay.

My favorite Bulgakov work is actually a Country Doctor's Notebook, which are his harrowing accounts of his practicing medicine in the Russian countryside. Published by Harvill, also translated by Michael Glenny.

Abr 28, 2009, 9:54am

>17 Ortolan: - thanks for the tip on Country Dr's Notebook, I thought I had read all of his stuff. Will have to wait a couple of years on the TBR Pile but that sounds like a great one.

Maio 8, 2010, 1:26am

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode of BBC Radio 3's "Night Waves" programme, on-line until Monday night GMT:-


Landmarks: The Master and Margarita http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00s7c2y

One evening in Moscow, the Devil appears in town. He travels with a band of demons including a beautiful naked woman and a huge talking black cat, to torment and deceive the town.

In a Night Waves: Landmark, Anne McElvoy and guests turn their attentions to Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita.

Bulgakov created a love story that was a metaphor for his own life. The Master of the title is a writer hounded by the authorities, whose lover Margarita makes a pact with the devil to save him. The book was written in secret in 1930s Russia, a love story that reflected Bulgakov's own life - his love affair with his third wife Yelena, the underlying fear and violence of Soviet Russia, and the power of the critic as a political tool. Bulgakov's novel remained secret for a quarter of a century after his death and wasn't fully published in Russia until 1973.

To discuss The Master and Margarita, Anne is joined by the novelist A.S Byatt, journalist and author James Meek, Bulgakov's biographer Julie Curtis and the actor Anton Lesser.

Broadcast on:
BBC Radio 3, 9:15pm Monday 3rd May 2010
45 minutes
Available until:
10:02pm Monday 10th May 2010

Jan 29, 2011, 2:53pm

For anyone who can read in Russian, there is a cool edition of Master i Margarita that I found;

Now the only tricky part is to try an figure out how to get these shipped in from Russia :(

Jan 29, 2011, 3:24pm

Svartalf - Nice book but as well as shipping did you see the price? 45,000 roubles - approx $1,500.

Jan 29, 2011, 3:45pm

Yeh.... I saw it :(
Damn....this is like the books of Gasprom Oligarchs, not regular mortals :(

Then again....take Easton Press...they have a Lincoln Collection for about $1000...although you do get a few books for that price.

Just wanted to share I guess....if you have $1500 laying around with nothing to buy, you might consider buying this. If you got mortgage payments to meet, then forget it.

Jan 29, 2011, 4:38pm

I just finished a reread of this earlier this month. I read a different translation this time, this one by Pevear and Volokhonsky. Of course I couldn't tell you what was different, I definitely felt it was smoother and a little more coherent but that could also be because the first time I read it, I new very little about Soviet society or the politics or realities of life at that point and time and now I do. I know I 'got' much more out of it this time, got more of the humour, understood the aspects of Soviet life and bureaucracy he was satirizing and just generally enjoyed it more. I experienced the same thing when I reread Doctor Zhivago. I knew nothing about the Russian civil war when I read it the first time, I was so confused about who was fighting who, I knew nothing beyond the Reds and the Whites. I spent the majority of the novel just struggling to keep it all straight. I read it again after I had done a lot more reading on the subject and again, I got so much more out of it, I was able to just sit back and read and experience without having to do all that sorting out.

#5 ~ I really liked White Guard. I listed it once as my favorite Bulgakov and I got a message from someone saying, "Really?! White Guard?!" and I had to admit, it maybe wasn't my favorite but it doesn't get mentioned very often and it's such a wonderful novel, it needs to be touted more often. I also loved Heart of a Dog and Fatal Eggs but I was pretty neutral about Black Snow and I haven't read A Country Doctor's Notebook but it's on my wishlist.

Jan 30, 2011, 8:25am

The Folio Society have recently published the 'Pevear and Volokhonsky' version of The Master and Margarita in hardcover with appropriately quirky illustrations by Peter Stuart.


Jan 30, 2011, 9:07am

I haven't read the P & V trans. I did compare Ginsburg and Glenny a long time ago and concluded that Ginsburg was much better.
Supposedly, there's an eastern euro. film of M & M.

Jan 30, 2011, 10:15am

#24 ~ I want that! That is so cool!

#25 ~ I have read about that as well. I checked netflix but it wasn't there and that's as far as my search went.

Jan 30, 2011, 10:16pm

Excellent film! Beautifully done!

Jan 30, 2011, 11:08pm

Yes, this film is a masterpiece. It was filmed over a course of many years and is very close to the portrayal of the novel. The dialogs and the scenes are lifted directly from the book. Mind you it is very long, 10 episodes about an hour each, but if you don't have time or can't find a good translation of Master and Margarita, you might consider watching this. No movie can ever be better then a book, but this one comes very close.

Jan 31, 2011, 7:11pm

This is off the subject a little bit and a little silly but check this out:


Editado: Fev 6, 2011, 2:23pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Mar 8, 2017, 9:11am

The link to the M & M TV series in #26 no longer works, so here's a currently working one:


Nov 26, 2017, 1:53pm

>32 languagehat: No longer working :-(

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