The Master and Margarita (Vintage International) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

If magical realism is your game, Mikhail Bulgakov's Faustian tale of the Devil arriving in Moscow circa 1930 and wreaking hilarious havoc is for you. Suppressed  by the Stalin regime for a spell, this complete, uncensored translation presented by Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor is by far the best English edition available. Unfortunately, Bulgakov passed away before his masterpiece was published. Fast forward to the late 1960's as Mick Jagger receives a copy of Master and Margarita from then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull. Inspired, Jagger proceeds to pen a little ditty called "Sympathy for the Devil".

— From Javier's Picks


The underground masterpiece of twentieth-century Russian fiction, this classic novel was written during Stalin’s regime and could not be published until many years after its author’s death.

When the devil arrives in 1930s Moscow, consorting with a retinue of odd associates—including a talking black cat, an assassin, and a beautiful naked witch—his antics wreak havoc among the literary elite of the world capital of atheism. Meanwhile, the Master, author of an unpublished novel about Jesus and Pontius Pilate, languishes in despair in a pyschiatric hospital, while his devoted lover, Margarita, decides to sell her soul to save him. As Bulgakov’s dazzlingly exuberant narrative weaves back and forth between Moscow and ancient Jerusalem, studded with scenes ranging from a giddy Satanic ball to the murder of Judas in Gethsemane, Margarita’s enduring love for the Master joins the strands of plot across space and time.

About the Author

Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940) was born and educated in Kiev where he graduated as a doctor in 1916. He rapidly abandoned medicine to write some of the greatest Russian literature of this century. He died impoverished and blind in 1940 shortly after completing his masterpiece, The Master and Margarita.

Praise For…

“One of the truly great Russian novels of [the twentieth] century.” —New York Times Book Review

“The book is by turns hilarious, mysterious, contemplative, and poignant . . . A great work.” —Chicago Tribune

“Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita is a soaring, dazzling novel; an extraordinary fusion of wildly disparate elements. It is a concerto played simultaneously on the organ, the bagpipes, and a pennywhistle, while someone sets off fireworks between the players’ feet.” —New York Times


“Fine, funny, imaginative . . . The Master and Margarita stands squarely in the great Gogolesque tradition of satiric narrative.” —Newsweek

“A wild surrealistic romp . . . Brilliantly flamboyant and outrageous.” —Joyce Carol Oates

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780679760801
ISBN-10: 0679760806
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: March 19th, 1996
Pages: 384
Language: English
Series: Vintage International