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Books from libraries and publishers worldwide

Written by Mikhail Bungakov, The Master and Margarita is regarded as one of the most valuable novel of the 20th century. Through his fantastic elements, the Russian author satirizes the corruption of the Soviet Union under Stalin`s rule. Because of its satiric content pointing the government bureaucracy and decay, the manuscript was hidden for more than twenty years before publication.

Plot summary

The story is divided between two settings: Moscow in the 30`s and Jerusalem of Pontius Pilate during the trial of Yeshua Ha-Nozri (Jesus the Nazarene).

The Devil disguised as Professor Woland arrives in Moscow during Holy Week. He is accompanied by four of his assistants: a grotesque valet, a mischievous cat, a hitman and a witch. Their target is the corrupt society reunited in the Moscow`s literary elite, along with its privileged Griboyedov`s House and trade union MASSOLIT.

Woland`s first victim is Berlioz, the unbelieving head of literary bureaucracy. Ivan, a young poet, witnesses the scene, but nobody believes him when he talks about the evil gang. He ends up in a insane asylum where he meets the Master.

Another storyline starts and concerns the Master and his love, Margarita. In her attempt to reunite with the Master, Margarita makes a pact with the Devil and becomes a powerful witch. The pact is made in the Good Friday, when Christ is crucified. Margarita is also the hostess for Devil`s Spring Ball, where all dark celebrities of the history arrive from Hell.

In order to reward her, Satan is ready to make true whatever Margarita wishes for. First she wants to liberate a woman from Hell then she wants the Master to be free and live their life together in poverty. Her wish comes true, but they die then are reawakened. The Devil and his suite leave Moscow in the setting Easter sun. Because they did not lose faith in humanity, the Master and Margarita will spend their eternity together in a peaceful yet shadowy place somewhere between Hell and Heaven – they are too good for the eternal punishment, but too bad for the light of Eden.

Themes and style

The three stories – the Devil`s actions against the unfaithful and corrupted ones, the story of The Master and Margarita and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ – are closely related and characters meet. The story is built on a complex relationship between Moscow and Jerusalem that crosses the time barrier.

This philosophical allegory was influenced a lot by Goethe`s Faust. The main themes are good vs. evil, courage vs. cowardice, innocence vs. guilt and Hell vs. Heaven. Basically, it is a novel about the greatest opposites that form our world, it is a book about the concepts that define us most as people. Bulgakov’s novel was only published 22 years after his death, while the Soviets were still in power; and even though the book has obvious critical undertones at the regime’s address, it managed to pass censorship and become one of the most internationally successful novels. And even though this isn’t one of the books we study in elementary school, it is a book that everyone should read because it makes us think and ask questions. In fact, unlike most elementary school books, this novel is both entertaining and profound, and it poses a few questions that concern us all.

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