“The Master and Margarita: (Russian title: Master i Margarita). A novel by Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940), combining dark humor, satire, fantasy and philosophy. It was completed in 1938, but not published in Russia until 1966-7 (in serial form); the English edition was published in 1967. In the 1930s the Devil visits Moscow, and, with the aid of a naked girl and a gun-toting, cigar-smoking, man-sized cat, spreads chaos and mayhem and shows up the moral inadequacies of Soviet society. Standing apart from all this is the Master, a novelist of great integrity, and his beloved, Margarita. He is writing a book about the appearance of Jesus before Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, long sections of which are included by Bulgakov. The book is prefaced by quotation from Goethe’s Faust.
Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.