Turn me over, brothers, I am done enough on this side

Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita

ginsberg master and margarita

Grove Press, Mirra Ginsberg translation

Master Margarita Penguin

Penguin Classics, Pevear & Volkhonsky translation

I’m very excited because I just heard, via one of my favorite reading-related sites, LitHub, that Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita is being made into a movie.  I only just found out about the book and read it a couple of years ago, and I was just thinking about re-reading it, I loved it so much.  Some reviewers argue pretty forcefully that the Mirra Ginsburg translation, pictured on the right, is the best; it’s the one my library had and I agree it’s great.  But now I’ve also read part of the Penguin Classics edition, translated by Pevear & Volokhonsky.  It has a gorgeous cover, and although some people say it’s not such a good translation, it flows along very fluidly and with lots of energy, so I think I disagree.

Because it’s a good one, I’ll just quote the plot summary from the LitHub article.  The story:

“…begins in a park in Moscow, where two intellectuals in conversation about the nonexistence of Jesus are confronted by a strange man, possibly a professor, clearly a foreigner, who predicts the death of one and sends the other to a mental institution. (This is Woland; he’s also the Devil.) Woland proceeds to harass the Moscow intelligentsia with his motley retinue—which includes, famously, an enormous, gun-toting, vodka-swilling cat—and generally causes surrealist and hilarious havoc in the name of political and social satire.

This action is interspersed by the story of Pontius Pilate and Yeshua Ha-Notsri (aka Jesus), as written by the Master, whose lover, Margarita, is soon to be recruited, however unwillingly, to the Devil’s side.”

I can also wholeheartedly recommend Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog.  

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