If you’re anything like me, you haven’t touched any Russian literature. If you’re also anything like me, you have only a faint knowledge of Russian history. To those of you who are like me, I recommend The Master and Margarita. The story revolves around the exploits of Satan in Soviet era Moscow and involves witchcraft, religion, and literature, all in the most satisfying way. The way in which it interweaves aspects of Soviet life into its occult imagery are illuminating to an understanding of a political philosophy many may not be familiar with. Though footnotes are helpful to an understanding of the story, its position as a historical artifact is only one of its merits. Like the story’s heroine who is swept away on a magic broom, the best part of the book is the way Bulgakov is able to sweep his readers into a fun-house mirror world of Moscow. The book reminds me of a dark cousin to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with its rich, absurd descriptions that only support the idea that it is through fantastical metaphors that we can better understand life within a period of history.
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