Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Read The World - Russian Federation - The Master And Margarita

Book: The Master And Margarita
Author: Mikhail Bulgakov
Pages: 448
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: no

I read this book in 2015 - the first year I decided to do a reading challenge.  Side note - I started doing reading challenges because of my mother.  I was obviously stuck in a reading genre rut because she begged me to stop recommending Dystopian future books to her.  I wasn't sure how to hunt for things outside of my comfort zone, so a friend told me about reading challenges.  The categories helped me search for books and I have found the love for so many different types of things.  So....I have my mom to thank.  She helped me become a better reader.

This book was originally written in Russian and then translated.  It is Daniel Radcliffe's favorite book, and actually how I found it (he mentions it in several interviews that he gives as being his favorite book).  I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I read this.  But it has certainly made the permanent shelf.  I would like to read it again someday because I feel like it deserves a second round of attention.

This was by far the most challenging book I have ever read.  Ever.  It was recommended to me by a friend and it is on the list of "100 books you should read before you die".

This book as a cult following - a serious one.  Bulgakov was a famous Russian writer but he died before his book ever got published.  He lived in the early 1900's and died in 1940, but with Russia at war  - and what he printed would have put him in jail for sure - it never saw the light of day until the 1960s.

I have never read a Russian novel before and this one was hard.  VERY hard.  Thank goodness it had a commentary section in the back of the book that broke out some of meanings of the Russian words.  That helps a great deal.  But it still took me over 2 weeks to read its 335 pages because I could only do one or two chapters a night before I needed to take a break.

If you are looking to challenge yourself this year - I suggest reading The Master and Margarita.  The premise of the book is.......all over the place.  Really - it is the story of how Satan visits Moscow and how he wreaks havoc on a group of writers who were atheist.  They don't believe in God or Satan, and this doesn't make Satan very happy.

The Master (whose real name we never learn) is a writer.  He doesn't actually enter the novel himself until about 1/3 of the way through the book.  Bulgakov died before the book went to print, and people speculate that he might have called it something else had he lived to see it printed.  The Master is writing a story about Pontius Pilate and his crucifixion of Yeshua - who the reader believes is Jesus.  But this is never told.  This manuscript of the Master is intertwined between the "present" story of these writers in Moscow and what happens to them if they cross Woland (who is Satan - but again, not really said).  Margarita is The Master's love of his life.  She is a beautiful woman who leaves her husband to be with the Master and encourage him to write his story of Pontius Pilate.

Is your head spinning yet?

The writer lived in a very tumultuous Russia.  The 1930s in the Soviet Union were very unsafe - especially when it came to writing.  There is a line in the back of the book that says "All of Bulgakov's literary energy and creative will were concentrated on proving something that his enviornment contradicted:  that manuscripts don't burn, that art outlasts the tyrants, that entropy doesn't triumph over the creative spirit."

I can't give you much more because this book goes is so many directions that it would be impossible to really give you a feel for it.  I do suggest you reading it.  I would give it 4 stars, and hope that someday to read it again to see what I missed and to better understand it.

Stars: 5


  1. This book sounds interesting and out of my comfort zone.I will definitely be adding it to my TBR.I want to try different books. You're right reading challenges also take you out of your comfort zone.

  2. this sounds really dense ... maybe someday when I don't have a million other things I need to focus on 😅

  3. You've both hyped this book for me and scared me a little bit 😅 Will try to get round to this though - may even do a challenge of reading around the world as it's such a good idea!

    Becky | Uptown Oracle

  4. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. russian girlfriend