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The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Shantipole ()
Date: August 22, 2015 00:09

Hi all,

Has anybody read The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov? This is the book that inspired the lyrics to Sympathy for the Devil.

I have read it recently and while I enjoyed it I must admit it was quite "out there" for me. Curious about anybody else's impressions of it.

Thanks!

Mark

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: GasLightStreet ()
Date: August 22, 2015 00:11

I read it eons ago. I couldn't finish it! It just got... I couldn't take it.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Shantipole ()
Date: August 22, 2015 00:17

I gave it a shot at least twice and finally finished it. I enjoyed it, I just had no clue of what was going on! Apparently Marianne Faithful gave it to Mick in '67 as a gift.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Turner68 ()
Date: August 22, 2015 01:32

Quote
Shantipole
Hi all,

Has anybody read The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov? This is the book that inspired the lyrics to Sympathy for the Devil.

I have read it recently and while I enjoyed it I must admit it was quite "out there" for me. Curious about anybody else's impressions of it.

Thanks!

Mark

i read it. great book, one of the best of the 20th century. it was recommended to me by a russian girlfriend totally independent of SFTD. the russians consider it to be a classic i am told. if you like "magic realism" ala garcia-marquez you might enjoy this.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015-08-22 01:39 by Turner68.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: treaclefingers ()
Date: August 22, 2015 01:45

I read it like 20 years ago...it was a tough read but I admit to enjoying it. Difficult to follow a lot of the time.

I've read War and Peace and Anna Karenina as well...they're way better, again very tough reads especially the first half until you get to know who all the characters are.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: everwest1 ()
Date: August 22, 2015 02:01

In our book club we have read "The Master and Margarita" several times, we have no idea what it is about or what it all means, but we enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend it and it makes a great gift for Christmas or Birthdays, along with "War and Peace" and "The Great Gatsby".

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: dmay ()
Date: August 22, 2015 02:20

Has nothing to do with this book, but in passing, this thread title made me think of the movie "The Master" with Joaquin Phoenix and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. If you haven't seen this, it's very good, different, well acted and allegedly based on the background of L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology fame.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Send It To me ()
Date: August 22, 2015 02:46

It was a veiled attack on Stalin, if I recall correctly? Made it about halfway through. Interesting tho, may revisit someday.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: ironbelly ()
Date: August 22, 2015 03:43

Shantipole
While Devil - Jesus part is quite straightforvard (although, not very convinient in the interpretation) the Master-Margarita part requires knowledge of the history of the USSR in the 30's. Anyway, that is not an easy reading.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Green Lady ()
Date: August 22, 2015 04:09

Nice to hear other people are having trouble with it. I've tried three or four times and just can't get into it at all. I was assuming that something had got lost in translation.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Date: August 22, 2015 04:23

Fantastic book. As a writer and literary translator, I would rate it very highly. Try Michael Glenny's translation. I once asked Ian McEwan whether Jagger really was as well-read as some people said (he had met him socially). He said: "He is well-read..., for a rockstar".

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Turner68 ()
Date: August 22, 2015 04:27

Quote
Green Lady
Nice to hear other people are having trouble with it. I've tried three or four times and just can't get into it at all. I was assuming that something had got lost in translation.

it was written in the darkest times of communist oppression, when any criticism of the tyrant Stalin and his government was punishable by death. Read it as a mystery novel, to see the clues the writer left about how he really felt and what he was trying to convey, all the while trying to get it past the censors.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Turner68 ()
Date: August 22, 2015 04:28

Quote
ironbelly
Shantipole
While Devil - Jesus part is quite straightforvard (although, not very convinient in the interpretation) the Master-Margarita part requires knowledge of the history of the USSR in the 30's. Anyway, that is not an easy reading.

sounds like you have a bad translation. mischa glenny's is the one to read (as mentioned elsewhere)

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: ironbelly ()
Date: August 22, 2015 13:01

Quote
Turner68
Quote
ironbelly
Shantipole
While Devil - Jesus part is quite straightforvard (although, not very convinient in the interpretation) the Master-Margarita part requires knowledge of the history of the USSR in the 30's. Anyway, that is not an easy reading.

sounds like you have a bad translation. mischa glenny's is the one to read (as mentioned elsewhere)

Actually, I am Ukrainian and read Russian fluently and without any problems. I read this book in original. I mark problems for those who are not familiar with life style of the USSR in the 30's. There are a lot of messages and allusions that could be confusing or poorly understand by people from West.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: CloudCat ()
Date: August 22, 2015 17:10

my absolutely favorite book

bulgakov was not allowed to publish anything nor allowed to leave the country - he was a caged artist who managed to keep humor in his writing

maybe try his short story heart of a dog to get into his rhythm

if fitzgerald were a zany, screwball comedy writer, his work might be a similar voice to bulgakov

the cat is masterful!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015-08-22 19:29 by CloudCat.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Turner68 ()
Date: August 22, 2015 18:20

Quote
ironbelly
Quote
Turner68
Quote
ironbelly
Shantipole
While Devil - Jesus part is quite straightforvard (although, not very convinient in the interpretation) the Master-Margarita part requires knowledge of the history of the USSR in the 30's. Anyway, that is not an easy reading.

sounds like you have a bad translation. mischa glenny's is the one to read (as mentioned elsewhere)

Actually, I am Ukrainian and read Russian fluently and without any problems. I read this book in original. I mark problems for those who are not familiar with life style of the USSR in the 30's. There are a lot of messages and allusions that could be confusing or poorly understand by people from West.

i'm sure there are a bunch of allusions that i don't get, but i still found the book very enjoyable, even with just a limited knowledge of the USSR from the 30s.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Green Lady ()
Date: August 22, 2015 19:10

Maybe I will try the Mischa Glenny translation. I have the Penguin one by Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear and find it stilted and awkward, especially the dialogue.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: crumbling_mice ()
Date: August 22, 2015 19:26

I started to read it way back in the 80's and enjoyed some of the imagary such as cats shoooting people with music ...but I admit, I gave up and took the book back to the library (yes, those were the days when you went out to the local library to borrow books) Even when I did my philosophy degree I avoided a return to it and it does keep crossing my mind to have another go. I think perhaps Ironbelly nailed it...some philosophical works don't translate easily and require a great deal of background reading prior to any attempt on the chosen text.


Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: CloudCat ()
Date: August 22, 2015 19:40

Quote
crumbling_mice
it does keep crossing my mind to have another go.

definitely try it again: the mirra ginsberg translation is a good one too

i've given copies of the book to a number of friends, and all have really enjoyed it (or lied to me about it, maybe)

(but i like to believe that they really liked this phantasmagoria of a story)

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Olly ()
Date: August 22, 2015 23:00

I read it in my teens to supplement my studies of Stalinist Russia at school. One of the great satires of twentieth-century literature, although occasionally overlooked (my A Level History teacher had never heard of it) in terms of it's literary merits and cultural significance.

I recommend the translation by Diana Burgin and Katherine Teirnan O'Connor. I have read another (I can't remember which one) and it wasn't as easy to read, nor did it bring out Bulgakov's humour as well. The version I read provided several pages of explanatory notes which helped to decipher the variety of literary, cultural, political, religious and historical references.

I remember particularly enjoying the first few chapters and how the seemingly unremarkable narrative quickly turned surreal. I also thought the two parallel narratives worked well together.


When I visited Moscow I was able to visit Patriarshiye Ponds, the setting for the novel's opening, and the building Bulgakov lived in (now the home of not one but two museums dedicated to the author):

[dombulgakova.ru]

[www.bulgakovmuseum.ru]

.....

Olly.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Turner68 ()
Date: August 23, 2015 06:47

Yes but did you have an Apricot soda?

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Lady Jayne ()
Date: August 23, 2015 12:24

Quote
Green Lady
Nice to hear other people are having trouble with it. I've tried three or four times and just can't get into it at all. I was assuming that something had got lost in translation.

Quite an interesting article touching on the problems of reading in translation this Russian classic

[www.theguardian.com]

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: ironbelly ()
Date: August 23, 2015 14:10

Quote
Turner68
Yes but did you have an Apricot soda?
As a matter of fact - yes. It was sold in the USSR in parks (in the kiosks) up to late 70s (maybe early 80s) for sure. Although it was called Limonade Dushes or Buratino by then. Kind of Fanta but much more ugly tasting.

Did you ever try to continue with Porto wine after vodka? I mean 0.5 l of vodka + 1 l of Porto. The hangover next day is quite amazing winking smiley

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: MingSubu ()
Date: August 23, 2015 14:22

I cheated and listened to the audiobook.

It has been a long time. I should find it and give another listen.

I'm now curious to know which translation I listened to.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015-08-23 14:23 by MingSubu.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: rogerriffin ()
Date: August 23, 2015 15:23

i read 10 years ago, what a nice read, i borrow the book and lost it, maybe someday i get one copy again...

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Shantipole ()
Date: August 23, 2015 22:51

Thanks for all the great feedback people! I will check out some of the suggested translations.

Mark

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Title5Take1 ()
Date: July 31, 2020 14:30

The energumen's tome mentioned in The Moscow Times >> [www.themoscowtimes.com] 7/30/20

Text:

‘The Master and Margarita’ Named Most Popular Russian Prison Read

“The Master and Margarita,” Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic Soviet tale of when the Devil went down to Moscow, has been ranked the most popular book among Russian prisoners, the state-run TASS news agency reported Thursday.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” ranked second, followed by “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas in third, TASS cited the country’s prison service as saying.

Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) collected data on the most popular books among its inmates as a part of a nationwide campaign called “Books Are Your Friends.”

The top-10 ranking was rounded out by Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers,” Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov,” Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” Mikhail Sholokhov’s “And Quiet Flows the Don” and Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” and “Resurrection.”

Other popular authors among prisoners include Nikolai Gogol, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Theodore Dreiser, Erich Maria Remarque, Boris Akunin, Guzel Yakhina and Daria Dontsova.

The FSIN said that prisoners’ taste in literature is diverse but they mainly read fiction, religious books and legal literature.

“In men’s correctional facilities, convicts prefer historical books, adventures, detective stories and fiction. In women's prisons, the most popular genre is romance novels; in educational colonies, adventure literature is most popular," TASS quoted an FSIN spokesperson as saying.

The FSIN said there are 1,137 libraries in its prisons and detention centers across the country. These libraries have 5 million books in total or about 100 books per inmate, with a wide variety of titles and genres on hand as well as books and magazines in Braille for the visually impaired.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: 1963luca0 ()
Date: July 31, 2020 21:36

Not only I read the book more than once, but I always attend all the theatrical pieces in Milan. The latest piece was clearly RS inspired and Sympathy For The Devil underlined the final bows. Nobody left the theatre till Richard’s solo was over and some wooh echoed. Great book, great time, great feelings. IMO, Jagger’s most fine lyrics, with Wild Horses

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: Christiaan ()
Date: July 31, 2020 23:21

I did read it less than a year back. I liked it. Some strange, some funny and all kinds of twists in the book. I'm thinking to read more books of the man. But there are so many good books still to read. And then have to read a lot of Stones books too.

Re: The Master and Margarita
Posted by: walkingthedog ()
Date: August 1, 2020 00:02

The Russian TV version is fantastic : [www.youtube.com]

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