Master and Margarita

Mikhail Bulgakov, Author, Tiernan O'Connor, Translator, Diana Burgin, Translator
Mikhail Bulgakov, Author, Tiernan O'Connor, Translator, Diana Burgin, Translator Ardis Publishers $35 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87501-067-0
Reviewed on: 12/02/1991
Release date: 12/01/1991
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This uncensored translation of Bulgakov's posthumously published masterpiece of black magic and black humor restores its sliest digs and sharpest jabs at Stalin's regime, which suppressed it. Writing in a punning, soaring prose thick with contemporary historical references and political irony, Bulgakov (1891-1940) did not make things easy for future translators. The story itself is demanding: the arrival of the Devil and his entourage in Stalin's Moscow frames a Faustian tale of a suppressed writer (the Master) and his devoted lover (his Margarita), set against a realistic narrative--the Master's rejected manuscript--of Pontius Pilate's police state in Jerusalem. An immediate contemporary classic when it was first serialized in Moscow in censored form in 1967-68, the novel suffered in its previous English translations, which were either incomplete or stylistically loose. This new translation, with its accuracy and depth, finally does justice to the politically and verbally outrageous qualities of the original. Careful footnotes explain and contextualize Bulgakov's dense allusions to, and in-jokes about, life under Stalin. (Sept.)
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