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  • The Devil has come to town.

  • But don’t worryall he wants to do is stage a magic show.

  • This absurd premise forms the central plot

  • of Mikhail Bulgakov’s masterpiece, "The Master and Margarita."

  • Written in Moscow during the 1930s,

  • this surreal blend of political satire, historical fiction,

  • and occult mysticism

  • has earned a legacy as one of the 20th century’s greatest novels

  • and one of its strangest.

  • The story begins when a meeting between two members

  • of Moscow’s literary elite

  • is interrupted by a strange gentleman named Woland,

  • who presents himself as a foreign scholar

  • invited to give a presentation on black magic.

  • As the stranger engages the two companions in a philosophical debate

  • and makes ominous predictions about their fates,

  • the reader is suddenly transported to 1st century Jerusalem.

  • There a tormented Pontius Pilate

  • reluctantly sentences Jesus of Nazareth to death.

  • With the narrative shifting between the two settings,

  • Woland and his entourageAzazello, Koroviev, Hella,

  • and a giant cat named Behemoth

  • are seen to have uncanny magical powers,

  • which they use to stage their performance

  • while leaving a trail of havoc and confusion in their wake.

  • Much of the novel’s dark humor comes not only from this demonic mischief,

  • but also the backdrop against which it occurs.

  • Bulgakov’s story takes place in the same setting where it was written

  • the USSR at the height of the Stalinist period.

  • There, artists and authors worked under strict censorship,

  • subject to imprisonment, exile, or execution

  • if they were seen as undermining state ideology.

  • Even when approved, their work

  • along with housing, travel, and everything else

  • was governed by a convoluted bureaucracy.

  • In the novel,

  • Woland manipulates this system along with the fabric of reality,

  • to hilarious results.

  • As heads are separated from bodies and money rains from the sky,

  • the citizens of Moscow react with petty-self interest,

  • illustrating how Soviet society bred greed and cynicism

  • despite its ideals.

  • And the matter-of-fact narration

  • deliberately blends the strangeness of the supernatural events

  • with the everyday absurdity of Soviet life.

  • So how did Bulgakov manage to publish such a subversive novel

  • under an oppressive regime?

  • Wellhe didn’t.

  • He worked on "The Master and Margarita" for over ten years.

  • But while Stalin’s personal favor

  • may have kept Bulgakov safe from severe persecution,

  • many of his plays and writings were kept from production,

  • leaving him safe but effectively silenced.

  • Upon the author’s death in 1940,

  • the manuscript remained unpublished.

  • A censored version was eventually printed in the 1960s,

  • while copies of the unabridged manuscript

  • continued to circulate among underground literary circles.

  • The full text was only published in 1973,

  • over 30 years after its completion.

  • Bulgakov’s experiences with censorship and artistic frustration

  • lend an autobiographical air to the second part of the novel,

  • when we are finally introduced to its namesake.

  • "The Master" is a nameless author who’s worked for years on a novel

  • but burned the manuscript after it was rejected by publishers

  • just as Bulgakov had done with his own work.

  • Yet the true protagonist is the Master’s mistress Margarita.

  • Her devotion to her lover’s abandoned dream

  • bears a strange connection to the diabolical company’s escapades

  • and carries the story to its surreal climax.

  • Despite its dark humor and complex structure,

  • "The Master and Margarita" is, at its heart,

  • a meditation on art, love, and redemption,

  • that never loses itself in cynicism.

  • And the book’s long overdue publication and survival against the odds

  • is a testament to what Woland tells the Master:

  • Manuscripts don’t burn.”

The Devil has come to town.


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ご主人様とマルガリータ』を読むべき理由とは?- アレックス・ゲンドラー (Why should you read “The Master and Margarita”? - Alex Gendler)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日