Moscow, 1930. The writers Berlioz and Besdomny are in the middle of a discussion about the existence, or better yet actual non-existence of Jesus, when they are interrupted by a stranger who tells them a story of how he was present during Pontius Pilate’s trial of Jesus. Then the stranger goes on to predict Berlioz rather gruesome death, which promptly happens. Turns out, said stranger is actually the devil. In the guise of the black magician Voland, he and his associates came to wreak havoc in Moscow.
This is actually the third time I read Master and Margarita, and it’s probably the time it worked best for me. But I’d still say, it’s far from being a favorite of mine and it will probably really have been the last time I read it. (Why did I read it three times ? Well, the first time I was too young, so I wanted to read it a second time to really get it. And the third time now was for a Soviet lit class at uni.)
I did warm up to the novel a little more than before. But I still don’t care for the nonsense of Behemoth and Korovyev and they take up so much space in the novel. I don’t think their tricks are funny or entertaining, so those parts really rub me the wrong way. If those parts weren’t in the novel, it would be like 1000 times better for me personally.
But I did appreciate Margarita even more this time around. She is a great character and I love the scene with Frida that shows the core of humanity that can be glimpsed in the middle of all the mischief and chaos. It’s the best part of the novel.
As much as I did enjoy those moments, though, and it is a well-written book, towards the end, I started to hurry through it, just hoping to finally finish it and not really enjoying it that much anymore. It just doesn’t reach me in the way it needs to that it would really come together for me.
Summarizing: doesn’t speak to me.