The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

The Rolling Stones ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ is based on this book.  That is why I read it. Rock’n’roll.  Basically, the Devil appears and f*cks people in the head.  And it’s very clever, caniving, devious and funny.

all along his difficult journey, he was inexpressibly tormented for some reason by the ubiquitous orchestra accompanying a heavy basso who sang of his love for Tatyana.

In chapter 4, as Ivan is ‘going crazy’, he hears this music everywhere and is taunted by it.

A brilliant detailed summary of the book can be found here if like me you suffer from a faulty memory and/or a ‘life'(/an existance) with little free time.  Also some interesting analysis’.  I’m not going to summarise it myself because I see it as one of those books that the pleasure comes from reading it, not the afterthoughts when you’re done, like those where you think ‘my brain has been upgraded now I have read that book! I see life differently and I can now make more productive decisions and informed choices! ah-ha!’ you know, one of those books… or is that just me that gets that… anyway…

These, are my favourite quotes I picked out from the book that made me laugh/ponder the most (in order of their appearance in the book):

I came in two weeks and was recieved by some girl whose eyes were crossed towards her nose from constant lying

Who the devil does he think he is?

I’m telling you he’s capricious as devil knows what!

I’ve been forcibly detailed here, they poke lamps into my eyes, question me for some reason

That quote seems to sum up some jobs quite comically 😉

Just like a murderer jumps out of nowhere in an alley, love jumped out infront of us and struck us both at once

Love is mental suicide.

(she)began kissing me and saying that it would be easier to die than to leave me alone in such a state, but that she was expected, that she must bow to necessity, that she would come the next day

Some inventive, inspiring descriptions:

The sun had melted the crowd away

The sun had vanished before it reached the sea in which it drowned every evening. The storm cloud that had swallowed it rose steadily and menacingly from the west.

A sickly fig tree tried desperately to live, clutching at the heaven-cursed waterless earth.

The line behaved with much agitation.

The above quote is referring to a queue of people, as if it was a whole, living thing – where imagination has helped pick out a few words for something so simple to transform into something creative.

‘Nothing, nothing, nothing, my dears!’ she shouted, addressing no one knew whom.  ‘The jacket and trousers are there, but inside the jacket there’s nothing!’

This quote I enjoy having taken it completely out of context.  To me, it coincidentally happens to perfectly explain how appearances can be decieving, someone could look the part but have absolutly no substance to them, and they fool people, but not everyone, and the few who can see through the facade want to tell everyone else and hopefully find a kindred spirit who sees what they see.

Words from the Devil himself:

‘Altogether bad’ ‘there’s something not nice hidden in men who avoid wine, games, the society of charming women, table talk.  Such people are either gravely ill or secretly hate everybody around them.  True, there maybe be exceptions.  Amoung persons sitting down with me at the banqueting table, there have been on occasion some extraordinary scoundrels!… And so, let me hear your business’

‘What’s the sense of dying in a ward to the groans and wheezes of the hopelessly ill?  Isn’t it better to give a banquet on the twenty-seven thousand, then take poison and move on to the other world to the sound of strings, surrounded by drunken beauties and dashing friends?’

Taking a closer look at him, the professor became convinced at once that this was no ordinary sparrow.  The obnoxious little sparrow dipped on its left leg, obviously clowning, dragging it, working it in syncopation – in short, it was dancing the foxtrot to the sounds of the gramaphone, like a drunkard in a bar, saucy as could be, casting impudent glances at the professor.

Also, I don’t know what kind of sick twisted seedy version I have, but I have noticed my chapter 14 is titled ‘Glory to the Cock!’ not ‘Hail to the Rooster!’ like it appears to be everywhere else… and in other versions it appears the aforementioned quote ends ‘staring at the professor as impudently and provokingly as it could.’  I understand Bulgakov died before completing this book, so someone else has either been meddeling with some of the words or it has been translated by multiple people?… ponder ponder…


Who told you that there is no true, faithful, eternal love in this world! May the liar’s vile tongue be cut out!

But as soon as the dirty snow disappeared from the sidewalk and streets, as soon as the slightly rotten, disquieting spring breeze wafted through the window, Margarita Nikolaevna began to grieve more than in winter.  She often wept in secret, a long and bitter weeping.  She did not know who it was she loved: a living man or a dead one?  And the longer the desperate days went on, the more often, especially at twilight, did the thought come to her that she was bound to a dead man.
She had either to forget him or to die herself.  It was impossible to drag on with such a life.  Impossible!  Forget him, whatever the cost – but he would not be forgotten, that was the trouble.
‘Yes, yes, yes, the very same mistake!’ Margarita said, sitting by the stove and gazing into the fire lit in the memory of the fire that had burned while he was writing Pontius Pilate.  ‘Why did I leave him that night? Why? It was madness! I came back the next day, honestly, as I’d promised, but it was too late.’
‘Ridiculous!…’ we might exclaim, but we shall not do so before a woman driven to despair.

‘go from my memory, then I’ll be free…’

Ah, truly, I’d pawn my soul to the devil just to find out whether he’s alive or not…

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