The Master and Margarita (Russian: Ма́стер и Маргари́та) is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, woven around the premise of a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many criticsconsider the book to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and one of the foremost Sovietsatires, directed against a suffocatingly bureaucratic social order.
Bulgakov started writing the novel in 1928. He burnt the first manuscript of the novel in 1930, seeing no future as a writer in the Soviet Union. The work was restarted in 1931. In 1935 Bulgakov went toSpaso House, the residence of U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union William Bullitt, which was transformed by Bulgakov into the ball of the novel. The second draft was completed in 1936 by which point all the major plot lines of the final version were in place. The third draft was finished in 1937. Bulgakov continued to polish the work with the aid of his wife, but was forced to stop work on the fourth version four weeks before his death in 1940.
A censored version (12% of the text removed and still more changed) of the book was first published in Moscow magazine (no. 11, 1966 and no. 1, 1967). The text of all the omitted and changed parts, with indications of the places of modification, was published on a samizdat basis. In 1967 the publisher Posev (Frankfurt) printed a version produced with the aid of these inserts.
In the Soviet Union, the first complete version, prepared by Anna Saakyants, was published byKhudozhestvennaya Literatura in 1973, based on the version of the beginning of 1940 proofread by the publisher. This version remained the canonical edition until 1989, when the last version was prepared by literature expert Lidiya Yanovskaya based on all available manuscripts.
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