The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita
The Master and Margarita  
1st single-volume edition
Author(s) Mikhail Bulgakov
Original title Мастер и Маргарита
Country Soviet Union
Language Russian
Genre(s) Fantastic, Farce, Mysticism, Romance, Satire
Publisher Posev
Publication date 1966–1967 (in series) & 1967 (in single volume)
Published in
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-14-118014-5 (Penguin paperback)
OCLC Number 37156277

The Master and Margarita (Russian: Ма́стер и Маргари́та) is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, woven around the premise of a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics[1] consider the book to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and one of the foremost Soviet satires, directed against a suffocatingly bureaucratic social order.



Bulgakov started writing the novel in 1928. He burnt the first manuscript of the novel in 1930, seeing no future as a writer in the Soviet Union.[2] The work was restarted in 1931. In 1935 Bulgakov went to Spaso House, the residence of U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union William Bullitt, which was transformed by Bulgakov into the ball of the novel.[3] The second draft was completed in 1936 by which point all the major plot lines of the final version were in place. The third draft was finished in 1937. Bulgakov continued to polish the work with the aid of his wife, but was forced to stop work on the fourth version four weeks before his death in 1940.

A censored version (12% of the text removed and still more changed) of the book was first published in Moscow magazine (no. 11, 1966 and no. 1, 1967).[4] The text of all the omitted and changed parts, with indications of the places of modification, was published on a samizdat basis. In 1967 the publisher Posev (Frankfurt) printed a version produced with the aid of these inserts.

In Soviet Union, the first complete version, prepared by Anna Saakyants, was published by Khudozhestvennaya Literatura in 1973, based on the version of the beginning of 1940 proofread by the publisher. This version remained the canonical edition until 1989, when the last version was prepared by literature expert Lidiya Yanovskaya based on all available manuscripts.

Plot summary

The novel alternates between two settings. The first is 1930s Moscow, which is visited by Satan in the guise of "Professor" Woland or Voland (Воланд), a mysterious gentleman "magician" of uncertain origin, who arrives with a retinue that includes the grotesquely dressed "ex-choirmaster" valet Koroviev (Fagotto) (Фагот, the name means "bassoon" in Russian and some other languages, from the Italian word fagotto), a mischievous, gun-happy, fast-talking black cat Behemoth (Бегемот, a subversive Puss in Boots, the name referring at once to the Biblical monster and the Russian word for Hippopotamus), the fanged hitman Azazello (Азазелло, hinting of Azazel), the pale-faced Abadonna (Абадонна, a reference to Abaddon) with a death-inflicting stare, and the witch Hella (Гелла). The havoc wreaked by this group targets the literary elite, along with its trade union, MASSOLIT (a Soviet-style abbreviation for "Moscow Association of Writers", Московская ассоциация литераторов, but possibly interpretable as "Literature for the Masses"; one translation of the book also mentions that this could be a play on words in Russian, which could be translated into English as something like "LOTSALIT"), its privileged HQ Griboyedov's House, corrupt social-climbers and their women (wives and mistresses alike) – bureaucrats and profiteers – and, more generally, skeptical unbelievers in the human spirit.

The second setting is the Jerusalem of Pontius Pilate, described by Woland talking to Berlioz and later echoed in the pages of the Master's novel. It concerns Pontius Pilate's trial of Yeshua Ha-Nozri (Иешуа га-Ноцри, Jesus the Nazarene), his recognition of an affinity with and spiritual need for Yeshua, and his reluctant but resigned submission to Yeshua's execution.

Part one of the novel opens with a direct confrontation between the unbelieving head of the literary bureaucracy, Berlioz (Берлиоз), and an urbane foreign gentleman who defends belief and reveals his prophetic powers (Woland). Berlioz brushes the prophecy of his death off, only to have it come true just pages later in the novel. This fulfillment of a death prophecy is witnessed by a young and enthusiastically modern poet, Ivan Ponyrev, who writes his poems under the alias Bezdomniy (Иван Бездомный – the name means "Homeless"). His futile attempt to chase and capture the "gang" and warn of their evil and mysterious nature lands Ivan in a lunatic asylum. Where Ivan is later introduced to The Master, an embittered author, the petty-minded rejection of whose historical novel about Pontius Pilate and Christ has led him to such despair that he burns his manuscript and turns his back on the "real" world, including his devoted lover, Margarita (Маргарита).

Major episodes in the first part of the novel include a satirical portrait of the Massolit and their Griboedov house;Satan's magic show at the Variety Theatre, satirizing the vanity, greed and gullibility of the new rich; and Woland and his retinue capturing the late Berlioz's apartment for their own use.

Part two of the novel introduces Margarita, the Master's mistress, who refuses to despair of her lover or his work. She is invited to the Devil's Walpurgis Night midnight ball, then made an offer by Satan (Woland), and accepts it, becoming a witch with supernatural powers. This coincides with the night of Good Friday since the Master's novel also deals with this same spring full moon when Christ's fate is sealed by Pontius Pilate and he is crucified in Jerusalem. All three events in the novel are linked by this.

Learning to fly and control her unleashed passions (not without exacting violent retribution on the literary bureaucrats who condemned her beloved to despair), and taking her enthusiastic maid Natasha with her, Margarita enters naked into realm of night. She flies over the deep forests and rivers of Mother Russia; bathes and returns with Azazello, her escort, to Moscow as the anointed hostess for Satan's great Spring Ball. Standing by his side, she welcomes the dark celebrities of human history as they arrive from Hell.

She survives this ordeal without breaking, and for her pains, Satan offers to grant Margarita her deepest wish. Maragarita selflessly chooses to liberate a woman from her eternal punishment she had met from her night at the ball. The woman was raped and had later suffocated her newborn by stuffing a handkerchief in its mouth. Her punishment was to wake up every morning and find the same handkerchief lying on her nightstand. Satan grants her first wish and offers her another, citing that the first wish was unrelated to Maragarita's own desires. For her second wish, she chooses to liberate the Master and live in poverty and love with him. Neither Woland nor Yeshua think her chosen way of life for Master and Margarita's likes. Azazello is sent to retrieve them. The three drink Pontius Pilate's poisoned wine in the Master's basement. Master and Margarita die, though their death is metaphorical as Azazello watches their physical manifestations die. Azazello reawakens them and they leave civilization with the Devil as Moscow's cupolas and windows burn in the setting Easter sun. The Master and Margarita, for not having lost their faith in humanity, are granted "peace" but are denied "light" – that is, they will spend eternity together in a shadowy yet pleasant region similar to Dante's depiction of Limbo, having not earned the glories of Heaven, but not deserving the punishments of Hell. As a parallel to the Master and Margarita's freedom, Pontius Pilate is released from his eternal punishment when the Master finally calls out to Pontius Pilate telling him he's free. And so he may finally walk up the moonbeam path in his dreams and up to Yeshua, where another eternity awaits.

The Spring Festival Ball at Spaso House and the Master and Margarita

One historical event which Bulgakov attended had an important influence on the novel – the Spring Festival at Spaso House, Moscow (the residence of the US Ambassador to the Soviet Union) hosted by Ambassador William Bullitt on April 24, 1935. Bullitt instructed his staff to create an event that would surpass every other Embassy party in Moscow's history. The decorations included a forest of ten young birch trees in the chandelier room, a dining room table covered with Finnish tulips, a lawn made of chicory grown on wet felt; an aviary made from fishnet filled with pheasants, parakeets, and one hundred zebra finches, on loan from the Moscow Zoo; and a menagerie of several mountain goats, a dozen white roosters, and a baby bear.

Although Joseph Stalin did not attend, the four hundred guests at the festival included Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, Defense Minister Kliment Voroshilov, Communist Party luminaries Nikolai Bukharin, Lazar Kaganovich, and Karl Radek, and Soviet Marshals Aleksandr Yegorov, Mikhail Tukhachevsky, and Semyon Budyonny, and the writer Mikhail Bulgakov.

The festival lasted until the early hours of the morning. The bear became drunk on champagne given to him by Karl Radek, and in the early morning hours the zebra finches escaped from the aviary and perched below the ceilings around the house.

Mikhail Bulgakov transformed the Spring Festival into The Spring Ball of the Full Moon, which became one of the most memorable episodes of the novel. [5] On October 29, 2010, seventy-five years after the original ball. as a tribute to Ambassador Bullitt, Bulgakov and the Master and Margarita, U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation John Beyrle hosted an Enchanted Ball at Spaso House, recreating the spirit of the original ball. [6]

Major characters in The Master and Margarita

Contemporary Russians

The Master
An author who had written a novel about the meeting of Pontius Pilate and Yeshua Ha-Nozri (Jesus of Nazareth). Put away in a psychiatric clinic, where Bezdomny meets him. Very little is known about this character's past other than his belief that his life had no meaning until he met Margarita.
The Master's lover. Trapped in a passionless marriage; devoted herself to The Master, whom she believes is dead. Does not appear until the second half of the novel, where she serves as the hostess of Satan's Grand Ball on Walpurgis Night. She is named after Goethe's Faust's Gretchen – whose real name is Margarita – as well as Marguerite de Valois. Marguerite was the main character in an opera, Les Huguenots by Giacomo Meyerbeer which Bulgakov particularly enjoyed, and a novel by Alexandre Dumas, père, La Reine Margot. In these accounts the queen is portrayed as daring and passionate. The character was also inspired by Bulgakov's last two wives, the first of whom loved action and was physically daring, while the last was devoted to his work in the same way as Margarita is to the Master.
Mikhail Alexandrovich Berlioz
Head of the literary bureaucracy MASSOLIT. He bears the last name of the French composer, Hector Berlioz, who wrote the opera the Damnation of Faust. Fell under a streetcar and, as Woland predicted, got his head severed by a young Soviet woman (the streetcar operator).
Ivan Nikolayevich Ponyryov (Bezdomny)
A young, aspiring poet. His pen name Bezdomny means "homeless". Initially a willing tool of the MASSOLIT apparatus, he is transformed by the events of the novel. Witnesses Berlioz's death and nearly goes mad, but later meets The Master in asylum and decides to stop writing poetry once and for all.
Stephan Bogdanovich Likhodeyev
Director of the Variety Theatre and Berlioz's roommate. Often called by diminutive name Styopa. For his dishonorable deeds was thrown to Yalta by Behemoth wearing not much more than his underwear freeing up the apartment for Woland and his retinue.
Grigory Danilovich Rimsky
Treasurer of the Variety Theatre. On the night of Woland's performance Rimsky is ambushed by Varenukha (who has been turned into a vampire by Woland's gang) and Hella. He barely escapes the encounter and flees to the train station to get out of the city.
Ivan Savelyevich Varenukha
House-manager of the Variety Theatre. He is turned into a creature of darkness but is forgiven by the end of Walpurgis Night – restoring his humanity.
Margarita's young maid, later turned into a witch.
Nikanor Ivanovich Bosoy
Chairman of the House Committee at 302B Sadovaya Street (former residence of Berlioz). For his greed and trickery, was deceived by Koroviev and later arrested.

Woland and his retinue

A "foreign professor" who is "in Moscow to present a performance of 'black magic' and then expose its machinations". The exposure (as one could guess) never occurs, instead Woland exposes the greed and bourgeois behaviour of the spectators themselves. Satan in disguise.
An enormous (said to be as large as a hog) black cat, capable of standing on two legs and talking. He has a penchant for chess, vodka and pistols. In Russian, "Begemot". The word itself means hippopotamus in Russian as well as the Biblical creature. A demon in disguise, able to take human form for short time.
A purported "ex-choirmaster"; this may imply that Koroviev was once a member of an angelic choir. Woland's assistant, capable of creating any illusions. Unlike Behemoth and Azazello, does not use violence at any point.
A menacing, fanged and wall-eyed member of Woland's retinue, a messenger and assassin, may be one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse. Possible reference to Azazel. In the Old Testament apocryphal Book of Enoch 8:1-3, Azazel is the fallen angel who taught people to make weapons and jewelry, and taught women the "sinful art" of painting their faces. This explains Azazello giving Margarita the magical cream.
Beautiful, redheaded succubus. Serves as maid to Woland and his retinue. Remarked as being "perfect, were it not for a purple scar on her neck" – the scar suggesting that she is also a vampiress.
The pale-faced, black-goggled angel of death.

Characters from The Master's novel

Pontius Pilate
The Roman Procurator of Judaea, a procurator in this case being a governor of a small province.
Yeshua Ha-Nozri
Wanderer, "mad philosopher", as Pilate calls him, whose name means Jesus the Christian in Hebrew, or alternatively "Jesus of Nazareth", though some commentators dispute the "of Nazareth" interpretation.[7]
Head Of the Roman Secret Service in Judaea.
Levi Matvei
A Levite, former tax collector, follower of Yeshua, and author of the Gospel of St. Matthew. Although introduced as a semi-fictionalized character in the Master's novel, towards the end of The Master and Margarita the "real" Matthew makes a personal appearance in Moscow to deliver a message from Yeshua to Woland.
Joseph Kaifa
The High Priest of Judaea. Kaifa is interested in Yeshua's death in order to "protect" the status quo religion and his own status as the High Priest from the influence of Yeshua's preachings and followers.
Judah of Kiriaf
The Biblical informant. Sets up Yeshua to be arrested, tried, and sentenced to death for his words against the rule of the Roman Emperor and is paid off by Kaifa for it. Judah is later killed on Pilate's orders for his role in Yeshua's death.

Themes and imagery

Ultimately, the novel deals with the interplay of good and evil, innocence and guilt, courage and cowardice, exploring such issues as the responsibility towards truth when authority would deny it, and the freedom of the spirit in an unfree world. Love and sensuality are also dominant themes in the novel. Margarita's devotional love for the Master leads her to leave her husband, but she emerges victorious. Her spiritual union with the Master is also a sexual one. The novel is a riot of sensual impressions, but the emptiness of sensual gratification without love is emphatically illustrated in the satirical passages. However, the stupidity of rejecting sensuality for the sake of empty respectability is also pilloried in the figure of Nikolai Ivanovich who becomes Natasha's hog-broomstick. The interplay of fire, water, destruction and other natural forces provides a constant accompaniment to the events of the novel, as do light and darkness, noise and silence, sun and moon, storms and tranquility, and other powerful polarities. There is a complex relationship between Jerusalem and Moscow throughout the novel, sometimes polyphony, sometimes counterpoint.

The novel is heavily influenced by Goethe's Faust, and its themes of cowardice, trust, intellectual curiosity, and redemption are prominent. Part of its literary brilliance lies in the different levels on which it can be read, as hilarious slapstick, deep philosophical allegory, and biting socio-political satire critical of not just the Soviet system but also the superficiality and vanity of modern life in general – jazz is a favourite target, ambivalent like so much else in the book in the fascination and revulsion with which it is presented. But the novel is also full of modern amenities like the model asylum, radio, street and shopping lights, cars, lorries, trams, and air travel. There is little evident nostalgia for any "good old days" – in fact, the only figure in the book to even mention Tsarist Russia is Satan himself. In another of its facets, perhaps showing a different aspect of Goethe's influence, the book is a Bildungsroman with Ivan as its focus. Furthermore, there are strong elements of Magical Realism in the novel.

Allusions and references to other works

The novel is influenced by the Faust legend, particularly the first part of the Goethe interpretation and the opera by Charles Gounod. The work of Nikolai Gogol is also a heavy influence, as is the case with others of Bulgakov's novels. The dialogue between Pontius Pilate and Yeshua Ha-Nozri is strongly influenced by Fyodor Dostoyevsky's parable "The Grand Inquisitor" from The Brothers Karamazov. [8] Reference is made to Tolstoy's Anna Karenina in the luckless visitors chapter "everything became jumbled in the Oblonsky household". The theme of the Devil exposing society as an apartment block, as it could be seen if the entire facade would be removed, has some precedents in El Diablo cojuelo (1641, "The Lame Devil" or "The Crippled Devil") by the Spaniard Luís Vélez de Guevara (famously adapted to 18th century France by Lesage's 1707 fr)).

Textual note

The final chapters are late drafts that Bulgakov pasted to the back of his manuscript; he died before he could incorporate these chapters into a completed fourth draft.[citation needed]

English translations

There are quite a few published English translations of The Master and Margarita, including but not limited to the following:

  • Mirra Ginsburg, New York: Grove Press, 1967.
  • Michael Glenny, New York: Harper & Row, 1967; London: Harvill, 1967; with introduction by Simon Franklin, New York: Knopf, 1992; London: Everyman's Library, 1992.
  • Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor, annotations and afterword by Ellendea Proffer, Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1993, 1995; New York: Vintage Books, 1996.
  • Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, London: Penguin, 1997.
  • Michael Karpelson, Lulu Press, 2006.
  • Hugh Aplin, One World Classics, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84749-014-8

Ginsburg's translation was from a censored Soviet text and is therefore incomplete.

The early translation by Glenny runs more smoothly than that of the modern translations; some Russian-speaking readers consider it to be the only one creating the desired effect, though it may be somewhat at liberty with the text.[9] The modern translators pay for their attempted closeness by losing idiomatic flow.

However, according to Kevin Moss, who has at least two published papers on the book in literary journals, the early translations by Ginsburg and Glenny are quite hurried and lack much critical depth.[10] As an example, he claims that the more idiomatic translations miss Bulgakov's "crucial" reference to the devil in Berlioz's thought:

  • "I ought to drop everything and run down to Kislovodsk." (Glenny)
  • "It's time to throw everything to the devil and go to Kislovodsk." (Burgin, Tiernan O'Connor)
  • "It's time to send it all to the devil and go to Kislovodsk." (Pevear, Volokhonsky)
  • "To hell with everything, it's time to take that Kislovodsk vacation." (Karpelson)
  • "It’s time to let everything go to the devil and be off to Kislovodsk.” (Aplin)

Several literary critics have hailed the Burgin/Tiernan O’Connor translation as the most accurate and complete English translation, particularly when read in tandem with the matching annotations by Bulgakov's biographer, Ellendea Proffer.[11] Note that these judgements predate the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky.

Limited information is available, at the time of this writing, regarding the 2006 Karpelson translation.

The new graphic novel published by British publishing house Self Made Hero, adapted by Andrzej Klimowski and Danusia Schejbal, provides a fresh visual translation/interpretation of the original.

Cultural influence of the novel

The book was listed in Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century.

"Manuscripts don't burn"

A memorable and much-quoted line in The Master and Margarita is: "manuscripts don't burn" (Russian: рукописи не горят). The Master is a writer who is plagued by both his own mental problems and the oppression of Stalin's regime in the Moscow of the 1930s. He burns his treasured manuscript in an effort to hide it from the Soviet authorities and cleanse his own mind from the troubles the work has brought him. Woland later gives the manuscript back to him saying, "Didn't you know that manuscripts don't burn?" There is an autobiographical element reflected in the Master's character here, as Bulgakov in fact burned an early copy of 'The Master and Margarita' for much the same reasons.

The Bulgakov Museum in Moscow

Bulgakov's old flat, in which parts of The Master and Margarita are set, has since the 1980s become a gathering spot for Bulgakov's fans, as well as Moscow-based Satanist groups, and had various kinds of graffiti scrawled on the walls. The numerous paintings, quips, and drawings were completely whitewashed in 2003. Previously the best drawings were kept as the walls were repainted, so that several layers of different colored paints could be seen around the best drawings. The building's residents, in an attempt to deter loitering, have turned the flat into a museum of Bulgakov's life and works.[12]

The museum contains personal belongings, photos, and several exhibitions related to Bulgakov's life and his different works. Various poetic and literary events are often held in the flat.

Allusions and references from other works

Various authors and musicians have credited The Master and Margarita as inspiration for certain works.

  • It has been suggested that Mick Jagger may have been inspired by the novel in writing the song "Sympathy for the Devil".[13] This is also suggested in Will Self's foreword to the Vintage edition of the Michael Glenny translation.
  • The grunge band Pearl Jam were influenced by the novel's confrontation between Yeshua Ha-Nozri and Pontius Pilate for the song, "Pilate" on their 1998 album Yield.[14]
  • Surrealist artist H. R. Giger named a 1976 painting after the novel. The painting was later featured on the cover of Danzig's 1992 album Danzig III: How the Gods Kill.[15]
  • Russian pop singer Igor Nikolayev has a song "Master i Margarita" (Russian: Мастер и Mаргарита)
  • Canadian band The Tea Party has a song entitled The Master and Margarita in their album The Interzone Mantras
  • Scottish band Franz Ferdinand's song "Love and Destroy" is based on Margarita in the novel
  • Chicago-based punk rock band The Lawrence Arms referenced the novel several times on their album The Greatest Story Ever Told: it features a song called "Chapter 13: The Hero Appears", named after the same chapter in the book; names one of the band members (corresponding to guitarist Chris McCaughan) as Ivan Nikolayevich; features the lyric "text to burn" (in the song "A Wishful Puppeteer") in reference to the catch phrase "Manuscripts don't burn", see above; and also features the same quote from Faust in the liner notes.


  • 1971: Polish director Andrzej Wajda makes a movie Pilate and Others for German TV, based on the biblical part of the book ('The Master's manuscript').[16]
  • 1972: Joint Italian-Yugoslavian production of Aleksandar Petrović's The Master and Margaret (Italian: "Il Maestro e Margherita", Serbo-Croatian: "Majstor i Margarita") is released. Based loosely on the book, the main discrepancy is that Master in the movie has an actual name of Nikolaj Afanasijevic Maksudov, while in the original book Master is persistently anonymous.[17]
  • 1977: Long a Soviet underground classic, Bulgakov's novel was finally brought to the Russian stage by the director Yuri Lyubimov at Moscow's Taganka Theatre.[18]
  • 1978: Stage production directed by Romanian-born American director Andrei Şerban at the New York Public Theater, starring John Shea. This seems to be the version revived in 1993 (see below).[citation needed]
  • 1980: Stage production ("Maestrul şi Margareta") directed by Romanian stage director Cătălina Buzoianu at The Little Theatre ("Teatrul Mic") in Bucharest, Romania.[19] – Cast: Ştefan Iordache [20] as Master, Valeria Seciu [21] as Margareta, Dan Condurache [22] as Woland, Mitică Popescu [23] as Koroviev, Gheorghe Visu [24] as Ivan Bezdomny / Matthew Levi, Sorin Medeleni [25] as Behemoth.
  • 1982: Stage production ("Mästaren och Margarita") directed by Swedish stage director Peter Luckhaus at the National Theatre of Sweden Dramaten in Stockholm, Sweden – Cast: Rolf Skoglund as Master, Margaretha Byström as Margareta, Jan Blomberg as Woland, Ernst-Hugo Järegård as Berlioz/Stravinskij/Pontius Pilate, Stellan Skarsgård as Koroviev and Örjan Ramberg as Ivan/Levi Mattei..[26]
  • The German composer York Höller's opera Der Meister und Margarita was premiered in 1989 at the Paris Opéra and released on CD in 2000.[citation needed]
  • 1989: Polish director Maciej Wojtyszko makes Mistrz i Małgorzata, TV miniseries of four episodes.[27]
  • 1992: At the Lyric Hammersmith in June the Four Corners theatre company presented a distillation of the novel, translated by Michael Denny and adapted and directed for the stage by David Graham-Young (of Contemporary Stage). The production transferred to the Almeida Theatre in July 1992.[28]
  • 1992: In an adaptation called Incident in Judaea by Paul Bryers, only the Yeshua story is told. The film includes a prologue which mentions Bulgakov and the other storylines. The cast includes John Woodvine, Mark Rylance, Lee Montague and Jim Carter. The film was distributed by Brook Productions and Channel 4.[citation needed]
  • 1993: The Theatre for the New City produced a stage adaptation in New York City, originally commissioned by Joseph Papp and the Public Theatre. The adaptation was by Jean-Claude van Italie. It was directed by David Willinger and featured a cast of 13 including Jonathan Teague Cook as Woland, Eric Rasmussen as Matthew Levi, Cesar Rodriguez as Yeshua Ha Nozri, Eran Bohem as The Master and Lisa Moore as Margarita. This version was published by Dramatists Play Service, Inc. A French version using part of van Itallie's text was performed at the Théâtre de Mercure, Paris, directed by Andrei Serban.[citation needed]
  • 1994: Stage production at Montreal's Centaur Theatre, adapted and directed by Russian-Canadian director Alexandre Marine.
  • 1994: A Russian movie of the same name is made by Yuri Kara. Although the cast included big names and talented actors (Anastasiya Vertinskaya as Margarita, Mikhail Ulyanov as Pilate, Nikolai Burlyayev as Yeshua, Valentin Gaft as Woland, Aleksandr Filippenko as Korovyev-Fagot) and its score was by the noted Russian composer Alfred Schnittke, the movie was never actually released on any media. The grandson of Bulgakov's third wife Elena Sergeevna Shilovskaya claims, as a self-assigned heir, the rights on Bulgakov's literary inheritance and refuses the release. Since the beginning of 2006, however, copies of the movie exist on DVD. Some excerpts of it can be viewed on the Master and Margarita website.[29] The movie was finally released in cinemas in 2011.
  • In 2000, an Israeli theater "Gesher" produced a stage adaptation, based on the Hebrew translation of the book by Ehud Manor. Starring Haim Topol, Evgeny Gamburg, Israel "Sasha" Demidov and others, the show premiered on 26.12.2000. Combining special effects and a 23 musician orchestra, the show was hailed a success.
  • A German language stage adaptation of the novel, Der Meister und Margarita, directed by Frank Castorf premiered in the summer of 2002 at the Vienna Festival, Austria, and is discussed in the August/September 2002 or 08|09 02 issue of the German language theater magazine, Theater heute.[30]
  • 2004 An adaptation of the novel by Edward Kemp and directed by Steven Pimlott was staged in July 2004 at the Chichester Festival Theatre, UK. The cast included Samuel West as the Master and Michael Feast as "the dazzling devil incarnate, Woland with a retinue that includes a man-size back cat Behemoth".[31] The production included incidental music by one of Pimlott's regular composers, Jason Carr.[32]
  • 2004: The National Youth Theatre produced a new stage adaptation by David Rudkin at the Lyric Hammersmith London, directed by John Hoggarth. It featured a cast of 35 and ran from 23 August to 11 September.[33]
  • 2005: The Master and Margarita miniseries – Russian director Vladimir Bortko, famous for his TV adaptation of Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog and Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, makes a Master and Margarita TV miniseries of ten episodes. The miniseries was first released on December 19, 2005. It starred Aleksandr Galibin as The Master, Anna Kovalchuk as Margarita, Oleg Basilashvili as Woland, Aleksandr Abdulov as Korovyev-Fagot, Kirill Lavrov as Pontius Pilate, Valentin Gaft as Kaifa, Sergey Bezrukov as Yeshua.
  • On August 25, 2006, Andrew Lloyd Webber announced that he aimed to turn the novel into "a stage musical or, more probably, an opera".[34] However, in 2007 The Stage, an online theatre website, confirmed that he has abandoned his attempt to compose a musical version of The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. "I’ve decided that it's undo-able. It's just too difficult for an audience to contemplate. It's a very complicated novel."
  • In October 2006 it was staged by Grinnell College, directed by Veniamin Smekhov.[citation needed]
  • In 2006 an almost 5 hour long adaptation was staged by Georgian director Avtandil Varsimashvili.[citation needed]
  • In 2007, National Academy of Theatre, Ballet and Opera of Ukraine premiered The Master and Margarita, a ballet-phantasmagoria in two acts with music by Shostakovich, Berlioz, Bach, et al. Choreography and staging by David Avdysh (Russia), set design by Simon Pastukh (USA) and costume design by Galina Solovyova (USA).[citation needed]
  • In 2007, Helsinki, Finland. Production is put on stage under the name Saatana saapuu Moskovaan (Satan comes to Moscow) by the group theatre Ryhmäteatteri, directed by Finnish director Esa Leskinen. Eleven talented actors played in 26 separate roles in the amazing and successful theathrical performance of three hours during the season 25.9.2007 – 1.3.2008.[citation needed]
  • In 2007, Alim Kouliev in Hollywood with The Master Project production started rehearsals on stage with his own stage adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita.[35] The production was announced for October 14, 2007 but was postponed. Some excerpts and information of it can be viewed on the Master and Margarita website.[36] The production is still in progress.[37]
  • In 2008 a Swedish stage production of Mästaren och Margarita directed by Leif Stinnerbom was performed at Stockholms stadsteater, starring Philip Zandén (the Master), Frida Westerdahl (Margarita), Jakob Eklund (Woland) and Ingvar Hirdwall (Pilate).[38]
  • The book was adapted into a graphic novel in 2008 by Andrzej Klimowski and Danusia Schejbal.[39]
  • In 2009, Portuguese new media artists Video Jack premiered an audiovisual art performance inspired by the novel at Kiasma, Helsinki, as part of the PixelAche Festival.[40] Since then, it has been shown in festivals in different countries, having won an honorable mention award at Future Places Festival, Porto.[41] The project was released as a net art version later that year.[42]
  • In late 2009, a Russian singer and composer Alexander Gradsky released a 4-CD opera adaptation of the novel. It stars Gradsky himself as Master, Woland, Yeshua and Behemoth, Nikolai Fomenko as Koroviev, Mikhail Seryshev (formerly of Master) as Ivan, Elena Minina as Margarita and many renowned Russian singers and actors in episodic roles, including (but not limited to) Iosif Kobzon, Lyubov Kazarnovskaya, Andrei Makarevich, Alexander Rosenbaum, Arkady Arkanov, Gennady Khazanov and the late Georgi Millyar (voice footage from one of his movies was used).[43]
  • In 2010 a new, original stage translation, written by Max Hoehn and Raymond Blankenhorn, was used as the Oxford University Dramatic Society Summer Tour, performing in Oxford, Battersea Arts Centre in London and at C Venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[44]
  • 2010: Israeli director Terentij Oslyabya makes an animation film The master and Margarita, chapter 1. His movie literally follows every word of the novel.[45]
  • 2010: Synetic Theater presents the re-staging of "The Master and Margarita" directed by Paata Tsikirishvili and choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili. The show featured a cast of 16, including Paata Tsikirishvili as Master and Irina Tsikurishvili as Margarita and ran from November 11 through December 12, 2010 at the Lansburgh Theatre.[46]


  1. ^ The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB
  2. ^ Neil Cornwell, Nicole Christian (1998). Reference guide to Russian literature. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781884964107. 
  3. ^ Spaso House: 75 Years of History, U.S. Embassy Moscow website
  4. ^ "Master: Russian Editions". Archived from the original on 2007-01-20. Retrieved 2007-01-23. 
  5. ^ Spaso House; 75 years: A Short History. (pg. 18-20).
  6. ^ *Watch video by Vitaly Mendeleev of Ambassador Beyrle's Enchanted Ball at Spaso House, October 29, 2010
  7. ^ Yeshua Ha-Notsri, Kevin Moss
  8. ^ Susan Amert (2002) (PDF). The Dialectics of Closure in Bulgakov's Master and Margarita. Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  9. ^ Sarvas, Mark. "The Elegant Variation: A Literary Weblog". Retrieved 2006-10-25. 
  10. ^ Moss, Kevin. "Published English Translations". Archived from the original on 2006-10-24. Retrieved 2006-10-25. 
  11. ^ Weeks, Laura D. (1996). Master and Margarita: A Critical Companion. Northwestern University Press. pp. 244. ISBN 0-8101-1212-4. 
  12. ^ Stephen, Chris. "Devil-worshippers target famous writer's Moscow flat". The Irish Times, Saturday, February 5, 2005. Page 9.
  13. ^ Cruickshank, Douglas. "Sympathy for the Devil"
  14. ^ Garbarini, Vic. "All For One: Pearl Jam Yield to the Notion That United They Stand and Divided They Fall". Guitar World. March 1998.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Pilatus und andere – Ein Film für Karfreitag at the Internet Movie Database
  17. ^ Il maestro e Margherita (1972) at the Internet Movie Database
  18. ^ The Cambridge Guide to World Theatre, edited by Martin Banham (CUP 1988)
  19. ^ Romania on Line – Cătălina Buzoianu
  20. ^ Ştefan Iordache
  21. ^ Valeria Seciu
  22. ^ Dan Condurache
  23. ^ Mitică Popescu.
  24. ^ Gheorghe Visu
  25. ^ Sorin Medeleni
  26. ^ [1]
  27. ^ "Mistrz i Malgorzata" (1990) at the Internet Movie Database
  28. ^ Theatre Record Index 1992
  29. ^ Master i Margarita (1994) at the Internet Movie Database
  30. ^ [2] (Use the Archive link on the left at the above site to access information for 2002 issues.)
  31. ^ Review by John Thaxter for What's On (London, 11 August 2004)
  32. ^ Minogue, Kenneth (August 23, 2004). "Bulgakov's Master and Margarita at the Chichester Festival". Social Affairs Unit. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  33. ^ Theatre Record Index 2004
  34. ^ Andrew Lloyd Webber (2006-08-25). "Revealed: My next project!". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-01-23. 
  35. ^ "United state Copyright Office. Kouliev Alim. Master and Margarita. K.PAu003336612". USA copyright office f. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  36. ^ "The Master and Margarita Project.". Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  37. ^ "The Devil World in The City of Angels" (in Russian). Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  38. ^ "Mästren och Margarita av Michail Bulgakov" (in Swedish). Stockholm City Theatre. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  39. ^ Mukherjee, Neel (2008-05-09). "The Master and Margarita: A graphic novel by Mikhail Bulakov". London: The Times Online. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  40. ^ "Master and Margarita – Pixelache 09". Retrieved 2010-03-24. 
  41. ^ "...and the winner is...". Retrieved 2010-03-24. 
  42. ^ "Video Jack – Master and Margarita". Retrieved 2010-03-24. 
  43. ^ "Master and Margarita: An opera in two acts and four scenes". 
  44. ^ "OUDS do Bulgakov Website". 
  45. ^ "The master and Margarita, chapter 1, film by Terentij Oslyabya". 
  46. ^


  • G. Lukács, Studies in European Realism, (Merlin, 1973)
  • G. Lukács, The Meaning of Contemporary Realism, (Merlin, 1974)

Further reading

  • Reidel-Schrewe, Ursula, "Key and Tripod in Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita", Neophilologus journal, v.79, n.2, April 1995, p. 273-282.
  • Tumanov, Vladimir. "Diabolus ex Machina – Bulgakov's Modernist Devil." Scando-Slavica 35: 49-61.[3]

External links

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