One of my favorite books, and one of only three novels that have made me weep at the end. Oh, it has demons and witches and a wisecracking cat, plus a Devil who’s both trickster and revolutionary—but there’s also a love story, and a centuries-old tale of redemption woven through dreams, visions, and an unburnt manuscript. Completed in 1940 but first published over twenty-five years after the author’s death, this wildly fantastic novel still feels fresh, funny, and wondrous.
A 50th-anniversary Deluxe Edition of the incomparable 20th-century masterpiece of satire and fantasy, in a newly revised version of the acclaimed Pevear and Volokhonsky translation Nothing in the whole of literature compares with The Master and Margarita. One spring afternoon, the Devil, trailing fire and chaos in his wake, weaves himself out of the shadows and into Moscow. Mikhail Bulgakov’s fantastical, funny, and devastating satire of Soviet life combines two distinct yet interwoven parts, one set in contemporary Moscow, the other in ancient Jerusalem, each brimming with historical, imaginary, frightful, and wonderful characters. Written during the darkest days of Stalin’s reign, and finally published in 1966 and 1967, The Master and Margarita became a literary phenomenon, signaling artistic and spiritual freedom for Russians everywhere.
This newly revised translation, by the award-winning team of Pevear and Volokhonsky, is made from the complete and unabridged Russian text.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
About the Author
Mikhail Bulgakov (1891–1940) was a doctor, a novelist, a playwright, a short-story writer, and the assistant director of the Moscow Arts Theater. His body of work includes The White Guard, The Fatal Eggs, Heart of a Dog, and his masterpiece, The Master and Margarita, published more than twenty-five years after his death and cited as an inspiration for Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.
Richard Pevearand Larissa Volokhonsky (translators) have translated works by Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Gogol, and Pasternak. They were twice awarded the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize, for their translations of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Pevear, a native of Boston, and Volokhonsky, of St. Petersburg, are married and live in Paris.
Boris Fishman (foreword) is the author of two novels, A Replacement Life, which was one of The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2014 and won the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal, and Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo. His journalism, essays, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, the London Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. Fishman has taught at Princeton University and New York University. Born in Minsk, Belarus, he moved to the United States at age nine and now lives in New York.
Christopher Conn Askew (cover illustrator) is a painter and tattoo artist whose illustrations have appeared on the covers of books, albums, and magazines. He lives in Los Angeles.
“My favorite novel—it’s just the greatest explosion of imagination, craziness, satire, humor, and heart.” —Daniel Radcliffe
“From the first page I was immediately beguiled, leading me to my year of reading Bulgakov, drawing me to venture to Moscow to seek out the landmarks in the book, and the author’s grave, which is steps away from the grave of Gogol.” —Patti Smith, The New York Times Book Review
“Nude vampires, gun-toting talking black cat, and devil as ultimate party starter aside, the miracle of this novel is that every time you read it, it’s a different book.” —Marlon James, “My 10 Favorite Books,” in T: The New York Times Style Magazine
“I read it first as an 18-year-old and, just like a meteor from a distant galaxy, it hit my tender young brain and dug its way deep into its gray material. It has nestled there ever since, radiating with beauty and wonder, irony and horror.” —Sjón, Vulture
“One of the truly great Russian novels of [the twentieth] century.” —The New York Times Book Review
“By turns hilarious, mysterious, contemplative, and poignant . . . A great work.” —Chicago Tribune
“A soaring, dazzling novel; an extraordinary fusion of wildly disparate elements. It is a concerto played simultaneously on the organ, the bagpipes, and a pennywhistle, while someone sets off fireworks between the players’ feet.” —The New York Times
“Fine, funny, imaginative . . . The Master and Margarita stands squarely in the great Gogolesque tradition of satiric narrative.” —Newsweek
“A wild surrealistic romp . . . Brilliantly flamboyant and outrageous.” —Joyce Carol Oates
“Beautiful, strange, tender, scarifying, and incandescent . . . One of those novels that, even in translation, make one feel that not one word could have been written differently . . . Margarita has too many achievements to list—for one thing, a plot scudding with action and suspense, not exactly a hallmark of Russian literature. . . . This luminous translation [is] distinguished by not only the stylistic elegance that has become a hallmark of Pevear and Volokhonsky translations but also a supreme ear for the sound and meaning of Soviet life. . . . It’s time for The Master and Margarita to rise to its rightful place in the canon of great world literature. . . . As literature, it will live forever.” —Boris Fishman, from the Foreword