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The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita (Мастер и Маргарита) is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov that is considered one of the greatest works of 20th century Russian literature.

Bulgakov started writing his most famous and critically acclaimed novel, The Master and Margharita, in 1928. After completing the first draft in 1936, he continued revising it until his death in 1940. A censored version of the book was first published in serialized form in 1966-1967. The first complete version was published in Moscow in 1973.

The novel is set in two places. The first is 1930s Moscow, which is visited by Woland, or Satan, with his two sidekicks. Wreaking havoc on the Soviet world, he meets the Master, a repressed author, and Margarita, the Master's one true love. The Master's rejected manuscript is the second setting of the novel, which takes place in biblical Jerusalem and deals with the trial and execution of Jesus Christ.

The novel is heavily influenced by Goeth's Faust and can be read as a satire to the Russian Revolution.

It never reached completion, and the final chapters are draft copies (albiet late drafts) that Bulgakov pasted to the back of his manuscript.

English Translations

There are four published English translations of The Master and Margarita:

Ginsburg's translation was from a censored Soviet text and is therefore incomplete. While opinions vary over the literary merits of the different translations and none of them can be considered perfect, the latter two are generally viewed as being more faithful to the nuances of the original.

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