Mikhail Bulgakov’s devastating satire of Soviet life was written during the darkest period of Stalin’s regime. 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, and a Satanic ball; to such somber scenes as the meeting of Pilate and Yeshua, and the murder of Judas in the moonlit garden of Gethsemane; to the substanceless, circus-like reality of Moscow. Its central characters, Woland (Satan) and his retinue—including the vodka-drinking black cat, Behemoth; the poet, Ivan Homeless; Pontius Pilate; and a writer known only as The Master, and his passionate companion, Margarita—exist in a world that blends fantasy and chilling realism, an artful collage of grotesqueries, dark comedy, and timeless ethical questions.
I can’t do it, you guys. I can’t. I have absolutely zero idea what is happening in this book. And I have TRIED to figure it out. I wanted to show myself that I could read ONE RUSSIAN LITERATURE without failing. This one isn’t that long, right? Surely I could do it.
My one thought while reading this was this: “This feels like the book that the Bohemians from Moulin Rouge would have written while high (drunk?) on absinthe.”
I’m pretty sure I saw a green fairy once or twice while trying to read it. I got a little more than halfway, but nothing made sense. There were references to Jesus and Pilate, the devil, someone got their head cut off by a street car. One of the men was schizophrenic, and maybe it was all just in his head somewhere.
Blah! I don’t know! Another Russian Lit bites the dust. This was both our AdultBooklr pick of the month AND a Boxall read, so it’s doubly frustrating. It is what it is. On to the next one.
Fulfills Boxall #111. This post contains affiliate links.