The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Summary
  1. A bitter satire aimed at the oppressive Stalin-era Russian regime of the 1930’s. It intricately interweaves three stories which help highlight and satirize the difficult and often hypocritical situations Russians of this era had to live with
Key Takeaways
  1. Manuscripts don’t burn – “an absolute trust in the triumph of poetry, imagination, the free wore, over terror and oppression
  2. Cowardice is the most terrible of vices – “touched the inner experience of generations of Russians
  3. “Bulgakov’ gentle irony is a warning against the mistake, more common in our time than we might think, of equating artistic mastery with a sort of saintliness, or, in Kierkegaard’s terms, of confusing the aesthetic with the ethical.” – from intro
  4. “Once terror is identified with the world, it becomes invisible. Bulgakov’s portrayal of Moscow under Stalin’s terror is remarkable precisely for its weightless, circus-like theatricality and lack of pathos.”
  5. He [Pontius] waited for some time, knowing that no power could silence the crowd before it exhaled all that was pent up in it and fell silent of itself
  6. And here Styopa’s thoughts began running on twin tracks, but, as always happens in times of catastrophe, in the same direction, and, generally, the devil knows where
  7. The findirector’s position was very difficult. It was necessary at once, right on the spot, to invent ordinary explanations for extraordinary phenomena
  8. …fact is the most stubborn thing in the world
  9. She had a passion for anyone who did something top-notch
  10. ‘That’s the way!’ ‘That’s the way!’ Woland’s retinue repeated like an echo. ‘We’ve been testing you, said Woland. ‘Never ask for anything! Never for anything, and especially from those who are stronger than you. They’ll make the offer themselves, and give everything themselves.
  11. ‘Listen to the stillness,’ Margarita said to the Master, and the sand rustled under her bare feet, ‘listen and enjoy what you were not given in life – Peace. Look, there ahead is your eternal home, which you have been given as a reward. I can already see the Venetian window and the Reising vibe, it climbs right up to the roof. Here is your home, your eternal home. I know that in evenings you will be visited by those you love, those who interest you and who will never trouble you…you will fall asleep, having a smile on your lips. Sleep will strengthen you, you will reason wisely. And you will no longer be able to drive me away. I will watch over your sleep.’
What I got out of it
  1. I had to go and read an analysis of the book after I finished to pick up a lot of the nuances, allegories and satire that Bulgakov interwove. However, this novel was a fun and worthwhile read and the analysis only made it that much richer