The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Hello, my lovely readers!
After being recommended this particular book again and again by a friend, I fianlly had time to pick it up. Let’s see if it really is as great as he lead me to believe!

The Plot (as found on Goodreads):

One hot spring, the devil arrives in Moscow, accompanied by a retinue that includes a beautiful naked witch and an immense talking black cat with a fondness for chess and vodka. The visitors quickly wreak havoc in a city that refuses to believe in either God or Satan. But they also bring peace to two unhappy Muscovites: one is the Master, a writer pilloried for daring to write a novel about Christ and Pontius Pilate; the other is Margarita, who loves the Master so deeply that she is willing literally to go to hell for him. 

The Rating:

Okay, so I might have gone into this with some inaccurate expectations that had been fuelled by my friend. He sold this to me as a book about witches. Well, yeah at some point there are witches but it’s just a small part of the story that only occurs like halfway through. While the book is interesting, it was off to a slow start for me and kept asking my friend when the witches will *finally* show up.

Why the slow start? So we kick off with two guys sitting on a park bench and having a chat when they are joined by a stranger. I was happy until the stranger started telling a story. That’s when they lost me. They story was about Pilate and Jesus and it was a rather long chapter. And not just that, we keep going back to that story continously throughout the book with many a chapter continuing that. I’m so sorry, but I just couldn’t be bothered to actually care about this.

Let’s pretend these chapters don’t exist, ok? Other than that there were loads of things I liked about The Master and Margarita. For those of you who are familar with some classic Faustian tales like the one by Goethe, you’ll be able to spot many nods and references to that. I always appreciate it tremendously when authors add little easter eggs like that. You don’t have to understand any of those tiny nods to read this story, but it adds a whole new level to it if you do.

The story has loads of suprising moments and twists you didn’t necessarily see coming. It did enjoy the majority of it, even though the relationship between the master and Margarita didn’t work for me. I don’t want to add any spoilers here but maybe I’m just not romantic enough for stuff like this but I simply was not convinced. Margarita was way too badass a character for that.

One thing I enjoyed in particular was a ball that occured rather late in the story were we get to meet a great many interesting characters. They all reference real historic personalities you most likely will not be familiar with. I ended up looking up all those people and had a real field day doing that. Again, you don’t really need to do that to follow the story, but I’m just a sucker for stuff like this.

Finally, this book gave me serious wanderlust. I’ve never been to Russia but Bulgakov mentions many real places that exist in Moscow. According to my friend it’s actually more places than you would expect, even most of the apartment buildings and the likes mentioned you can really find in Moscow. I’d love to go on a trip some day and check those out!

I didn’t love this book as much as I had expected. It’s a decent novel with some really cool moments but overall I didn’t turn out to be ‘my new favorite book’ as my friend had led me to believe. There were some parts of the story that just didn’t work for me at all. I did, however, appreciate all the little nods and references Bulgakov included and had a great time even after I finished reading as I ended up doing some research. 😅

Did you read this book? Let me know in the comments what you think!

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One thought on “The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

  1. Pingback: Wrapping it up for November | The Punk Theory

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