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Old 06-21-2011, 10:54 AM   #40
sun surfer
in this great future
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I enjoyed the book. I think it was somewhat of a masterpiece, but as others have said, a flawed masterpiece. I am glad for having read it.

It definitely reminded me of Alice In Wonderland, with Woland/The White Rabbit taking us down the rabbit hole to this surreal place.

As others have mentioned, the general differences between the female and male characters in the book are striking. The only two well-fleshed-out females, Margarita and Natasha, both happen to be beautiful and of a perfect age. And of course they go nude a lot.

Margarita is perhaps the most interesting character of the book, though. I do think that may be because of who he was basing it on though. I think the master is based on himself (Bulgakov) and Margarita is based on his wife/lover at the time. Since he was infatuated with her, he made her into this being close to perfection, better than most all of the male characters, even though most characters in the book are male and most other females in the book are caricatures.

In this sense, the book somewhat jibes with Biblical depictions of women, where women are often lesser characters, and I wonder if this was his intention or if it was just coincidence. I feel there is also a strong similarity between Margarita and Mary Magdalene, as Margarita is the Master's strongest disciple and is a flawed person following her master. In this sense the master then is similar to Jesus, and I wonder if it was a bit of ego-stroking on Bulgakov's part since he based the master on himself.

As to Margarita being fearless, she wasn't. Certainly, she was the bravest of the bunch, but Bulgakov showed her being afraid in parts, at one point clinging to Woland's leg because she was afraid of something. I thought that was interesting. Because Bulgakov could have made her completely fearless. But he let her have some fear. I'm not sure what the reasoning was for that.

Book 1 was a bit of work, but Book 2 really takes off, in part because Margarita is such an interesting character, but also because we see her flight and the subsequent scene by the river, and then we see the ball, and those are all brilliant scenes that really captured my imagination.

I also loved the ending and still wonder over it. Why doesn't the master and Margarita get to go to heaven? Is Bulgakov atoning for his own sins, condemning himself to a blissful limbo instead of outright heaven? I read that he at first had them go to heaven but changed it to make them stay in limbo, and that he agonised over which route to give them.

I also love how complex the character of Woland is. He's certainly not pure evil, so what is he?
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