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Master and Margareadalong: The Master and Margarinning!

Wow, I sure did not have any idea what this book was about. Mostly because I 100% thought it was about a ship's cat. If someone had told me it "concerns a visit by the devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union" I PROBABLY WOULD HAVE PICKED IT UP SOONER.

Is a cat involved? Yes. But a shifty cat.

The book begins with a poet and his editor, because #Russia. They're in a park. This park:

please note 'i love cake'

benches! like where they sit in the book! also how can the cars be parked facing different ways #anarchyinrussia

How much does Russia love this book? A SHIT TON is the answer. They still love Patriarch's Ponds, (or, if you're talking to your brother-in-law and forgot the name, Patriarchy Park) pretty much solely because of this book (although that's according to, so take it with a grain of salt) AND they have put up this amazing sign that is now 90% of the reason I want to go to Russia:

On June 20, 2012, the connectedness of the Patriarch's Ponds with The Master and Margarita was again illustrated when a unique road sign turned out to be placed there overnight. It's a prohibition sign, showing the well-known silhouettes of Professor Woland, accompanied by his henchmen Koroviev and Behemoth. Under the sign is mentioned what exactly is supposed to be prohibited: Запрещено разговаривать ц незнакомцами or Do Not Talk with Strangers.


Right, so back to the book. A stranger approaches the poet + editor (DO NOT TALK TO HIM) and starts chatting about how they're saying God doesn't exist and then you the reader are magically whisked away to

No, Jerusalem.

And Jesus is there! But like, DifferentJesus. And all of the Bible is a lie written by an annoying guy who won't quit following Jesus around and misquoting him. Or so says the mysterious stranger in the park you're not supposed to be talking to.

Then other things happen, which are mainly the poet going INSANE because he wants to find the devil and his friends, but let's talk about the background of this book. This weird, weird book that I'm liking a fair amount but not understanding enough and I'm glad we're doing this readalong of it and good job whoever first suggested it once we all realized we had copies of it sitting around.

Master and Margarita was written from the 1920s to the 1940s under the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union. Most people know this was a shitty, shitty time, especially if you had any opinion other than "Stalin and the Soviet Union are A+ #1 great and I have no problem with them at all because of the aforementioned greatness," but sometimes things were shitty for you even if you totally said all that stuff. Because it was a shitty, shitty time.

I watched a documentary called Stalin's Lies FOR YOU that began with "The Soviet Union was the first state to formally renounce truth in order to build a classless utopia. Truth was a bourgeois illusion." Then I watched one about Lenin. It was actually pretty neat; you can check it out here. Then I watched a documentary about Bulgakov on YouTube and OMG YOU GUYS it is the worst/best documentary I have ever seen. Here's what it says distilled:

Bulgakov was a doctor whose job was very hard. One day he did morphine to combat some pain and got crazy addicted because he was convinced that the dream-state he entered while in it would show him the Real Story about Christ's crucifixion. He also during this morphine-insane period came up with The Seventh Proof for God's existence, which is that if the devil exists, God must too. This documentary made me think Bulgakov was an asshole, but it was also, again, a terrible documentary. Wikipedia backs up none of this, and instead talks about how M&M is one of the best novels of all time and how it condemns the totalitarian Soviet state and its atheist tendencies. It kind of backs up the Seventh Proof thing actually. But it makes Bulgakov sound like less of a giant weirdo. It also has this snazzy photo of him:

Middlebury also has a pretty great resource for the book and its themes/info on what the chapters mean here: Great Middlebury Source that Alice Found

What do you think of the book so far! Do you have any thoughts on 1920s and '30s Russia? Do you want to talk about kulaks? LINK UP BELOW.


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