Saturday, November 17, 2012

Beginning The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

In complete disgust I have laid down Stephen King's 11/22/63. Like a tough piece of meat, I've been chewing on it all November, and it just won't go away. I'm on page 500-something of 800-something pages, and frankly, it's not the depth of the book that's getting me down. It's that November is  more than half gone, and I have Things To Do.  

I've promised myself to read Norwegian Wood this November for my own Japanese Literature Challenge 6.

 I've also promised tuesday to participate in her Russian Reading month this November.

So, bye-bye Stephen. Until we met again. Not that I haven't enjoyed some of your novel, such as the trip down memory lane to the 60's when I myself was a child.

Last night I opened The Master and Margarita for Russian Reading month. It is every bit as thrilling as I've been promised. I find myself inserting post-it tabs in several places, and I'm only on page 62. Behold what has struck me thus far:
  • "I couldn't agree more!" concurred the stranger, his eye agleam, and he continued, "But this is what disturbs me: if there is no God, then, the questions is, who is in control of man's life and the whole order of things on earth?" (p. 8)
  • A quarter of an hour later Ryukhin was sitting all by himself, hunched over a plate of carp, downing glass after glass (of vodka). He was coming to realize and to acknowledge that he could not rectify anything in his life, he could only forget. (p. 61)
There's so much in these two passages! Who is in control of man's life? We could talk about that forever. Is the solution to rectifying anything in one's life to only forget? We could talk about that, too.

And, I hope we will once I finish The Master and Margarita in all its tremendous power.

29 comments:

  1. Aaah, brooding Russians...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! And, I love them! Not quite sure what that says about me, though.

      Delete
  2. I've had this on my TBR since years and really want to read it. I think those passages are wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really, really want to discuss those passages, Caroline, and they're only in the first eighth of the novel! I think when we get done discussing it, even in a rather vague form, you'll want to read the novel yourself. :)

      Delete
  3. Those passage are very tempting! Which translation are you reading, dearest B?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm reading the translation which came highly recommended from the Russian professor at the University of Torono; my copy is pictured in my sidebar, and it's translated by Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor. I cannot even tell you how much I'm loving it. I might even read it all this weekend. The only bad part is then it would be over.

      Delete
  4. It's an extraordinary novel, perhaps Europe's comical masterpiece of the 20th century, with so many likable characters, including the devil and his crew of demons, especially the gun-totting Behemoth. I never read anything quite like it, I doubt I ever will again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to say the devil is likeable, but he certainly is portrayed cleverly in all his disguises and manipulations! It is a very extraordinary novel, and I'm not even halfway through; I also really enjoy the subtle mockery of Soviet Russia (which I find more and more in present day America).

      Delete
  5. I wasn't planning to read this, but those passages make it a bit tempting.

    With regard to the King tome, I may have to listen to that one rather than read the print edition. I wound up listening to The Passage, which is another "chunkster." 766 pages in all! Of course, the audio still took me well over a month to complete. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not that I don't like the King tome, it's just that it's endless drivel. Which rather sounds like I don't like it. I did hum "You can trust your car to the man who wears the star" for Texaco the last three days, though. I do like the trip to our youth.

      I just picked up Tell The Wolves I'm Home on audio, and while the story starts out to be very interesting, the narrator's voice is driving me crazy! She's doing a wonderful job of emulating a 15 year old girl, whom I want to slap on hearing the teenage whine. This, from a tolerant, and patient, Bellezza. (Not.)

      Delete
    2. I'll make a note to get the print version of Tell the Wolves I'm Home. Don't want to ruin the story with an annoying reader.

      Delete
  6. I get impatient with chunksters. Unless they fly by I get anxious for other things...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like chunksters, but only when the thought is deeper than King is capable of...

      Delete
  7. What tempting passages! Matt has been touting this novel for years... and I am very curious, yet slightly intimidated. I don't own a copy (yet), but will take a closer look the next time I'm in the bookstore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't be intidmidated, JoAnn. This is a wonderful story, and it's not nearly so long as must Russian novels I know. But, there are a lot of characters with three names, which can get readers discouraged. But not me! Not you! ;)

      Delete
  8. Oh no on 11/22/63 -- loved that one! Think I've had some struggles as well with books lately, lots of starts and back to the shelf -- more of a case of not bad book, just bad timing. As they say in break-ups "It's not you, it's me":)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are many parts of 11/22/63 I love, particularly the sense of nostalgia I experienced while reading it. It's just that there are so many others I'm dying to get to! It's definitely me, not you or him! :)

      Delete
  9. Loved this when I read a good few years ago & glad you're enjoying it. Obscure trivia fact, The Rolling Stones song Sympathy for the Devil was inspired by this book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh!!! I can so clearly remember my first husband singing that song (when he was still alive). It always gave me chills, as any mention of the devil gives me, but this book is indeed incredible. Such an accurage portrayal of the enemy and his empty promises, while at the same time being a wonderful satire of the Soviet. I hope we can talk more after I finish it and post my review.

      Delete
  10. look forward to your review ,all the best stu

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm looking forward to finishing this book (this week!) and posting my thoughts. I think it will be a marvelous discussion for those who have read it, and an impetus to begin for those who haven't. It's spectacular literature.

      Delete
  11. Ah, I love the Burgin/O'Connor translation, I have two others and this one blows them out of the water for style. Glad you're enjoying it so much. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it interesting how the translation can make all the difference? I was telling Claire of kiss a cloud how normally Pevear and Volokhonsky are incredible in their translations; except for Dr. Zhivago which was almost unintelligable. In my opinion. I was so glad the instructor at the University of Toronto pointed me to the Burgin/O'Connor.

      Delete
  12. I'm SO glad to hear you're loving this! It's ne of my all-time favourites. I will be eagerly awaiting your thoughts on finishing it!

    Marie
    http://www.girlvsbookshelf.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I finished it last night, and I'm not sure my thoughts will be that astute. However, I will post what I'm thinking about. This was a wonderful, fanciful, confusing book!

      Delete
  13. I have never, in the course of my life, been able to read Stephen King. But, this Bulgakov novel sounds intriguing. I love Russian stories. I'll look forward to your review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, King? Not so much. But Russian novels? Any day of the week!

      Delete
  14. I was so, so glad to get 11/22/63 OVER WITH. I know how you feel. I came close to abandoning it but just couldn't bear to give up because it was an impulse purchase and I convinced myself I had to get my money's worth out of it. I did enjoy the last 150 pages or so. Was it worth dragging myself through the other 650 pages to get there? Not sure. I agree with the "endless drivel" remark. The setting was definitely fun, though. As much bad as there was in the world, that decade was a wonderful time to grow up.

    ReplyDelete