While for the most part I flunked Dewey yesterday, I did read chapters 17-22 of Master and Margarita. So, that was good. And they were still entertaining. And still confusing. Half of Moscow is in an uproar over the mysterious show that left so many women running around Moscow in their skivvies. People are still trying to get the apartment, namely Berlioz’ uncle who seems to escape without any major difficulties, unlike the man who is now nothing but an empty suit. The bartender who stupidly tried to get his money back also miraculously survived, possibly because he doesn’t have long to live, and now the doctor he ran to is being harassed. There’s no way to escape these folks if you come to their attention, except perhaps to join them. While we don’t see the Master or Ivan during this section, we re-meet Margarita who, of course, has not forgotten her love for the Master. She longs for him so much she would sell her soul simply to know if he’s alive. A stupidly low price in my book, but then she thinks it’s just an expression. And maybe it is. Has she sold her soul? She’s become a witch with the knowledge she will pay a high price, but so far the price seems to be freedom and the ability to fly and be invisible. She and her maid Natasha take to this like ducks to water.
A number of people reading have decided the Master’s Pontius Pilate novel was dreck. It might be, I don’t think we’ll ever know, but I don’t think it’s important how well written it was. The problem with it was that it said things about Pilate and presumably the whole Jesus story that got the various powers in the literary world’s panties in a bunch. If a book is just bad, you don’t write editorials about it. You don’t essentially destroy the author about it. Whatever the Master had to say the Administration Did Not Like It. Not enough to put him in a gulag, but clearly they did not approve.
One thing you can say about this book is that it’s unpredictable. Someone was complaining (my apologies for being too lazy to go back and look up who it was) that the Devil and his minions were a bit too much like ordinary low-class thugs. I think that’s on purpose — they’re supposed to symbolize, I think, the secret police and not-secret police and administrators who harass and bully the populace whenever they feel like it. This is thinly disguised by the black magic, but really these guys are just like a brutal dictatorship. Mercy, sense and justice are out the window. If they want you in jail, or the madhouse, or in Yalta, that’s where you’re going and it doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do.
It certainly has inspired a lot of great art. I cannot believe how I could have completely forgotten this book aside from the fact there was a human-like cat in it. I’m glad in a way. It’s like reading it for the first time, but it seems weird to me that such a bizarre tale could be so utterly lost in my own personal mists of time. I also can’t imagine how they made a play out of it, but then I’m only 3/5 of the way through. But am now only six days behind and could, in theory, report on Monday on time. It seems unlikely as that’s tomorrow, but still. It’s possible.
I think the housing crisis was because they were trying to move from an agrarian to an industrial society very fast. But I could be making that up. Also the whole thing about Margarita being descended from a queen of France and ‘blood telling’ really bothers me. I don’t believe that guff for a minute. And it makes me sad to think that Bulgakov put any stock in it. If he did. Which I’m not sure yet. Very Victorian and earlier notion. The poor little waif with good manners always turns out to be from a good, meaning rich, family. Like we can’t all read the papers or history books and see thousands of examples of good people from poor families and rotten people from rich and noble families. How do these damn fool notions carry on even to today? I’ve met people, not many, but a few, who believe that wealth equals, well, any other great thing you can think of, brains, skill, general worth. People who think having a king is a better idea than having a congress or parliament. Educated people! Argggh! As you can see, that’s a button of mine. Blood will tell. What a load of codswallop.