The Master and Margarita Readalong, Part Two: Magic and Mayhem

This post is my thoughts on the second scheduled part of The Master and Margarita Readalong hosted by Alice. Things will be spoiled!

Well, He's no David Blaine But...

The devil (yes, this week someone finally says it- the stranger is Satan) and his cohorts having dispatched Stepa, the roommate, to Yalta and beheaded the editor, decide to occupy the empty apartment, even though apartments are in hot demand in Moscow. They bribe the landlord, Nikanor, and immediately call the cops on him for accepting the bribe. So rude!

Meanwhile, Stepa sends his boss, the house manager of the theatre, Varenukha, a telegraph from Yalta. He and the treasurer, Rimsky, are like, "That's impossible! We just talked to him fifteen minutes ago!" Varenukha sets out to get to the bottom of things and is beaten by the devil's entourage. He's dragged off by a naked glowing girl only to return to Rimsky later without a shadow. Poor Rimsky himself is nearly dragged to hell by a zombie but the rising sun saves him. (These are things that happened.)

But before Rimsky is traumatized, there is a variety show at the theatre. Everything starts out like an X Factor episode with girls on unicycles and such, when the devil gets on stage. He's introduced as a magician but first he sits in a chair and complains about the Russians. When the audience gets restless, he makes money appear from the sky, removes a man's head, and gives women new outfits. He's not much of a showman about it and the audience is confused.

Someone stands up and demands to know how the tricks were done. To be fair, the host said all would be revealed, but I got to wonder, has anyone in Russia even seen a magic show before? You don't ask how it's done, you just go along with it. No one asks David Blaine how he levitates. You just say, "Wow! That's amazing!" Act appropriately, Russians. The only reveal that happens is to the audience member's wife, who finds out he's having an affair. Shows over, folks!

The Devil, You Say!

While the theatre breaks into pandemonium, all is quiet at the mental hospital. Ivan is taking it easy. He's about to have nap, when a man sneaks into his room. The man asks how he came to be there and Ivan explains his situation once again. The man believes him and tells him the stranger he met was the devil.
Usually you know it's the devil because he's playing the fiddle

This is the Master, finally. He goes into a long story about how writing a book about Pontius Pilate and trying to get it published drove him suicidal. Of course, the story involves Margarita.

First, I want to note that every man in this book who is married hates his wife and is having an affair. The Master is no exception. Margarita is his mistress. When he first sees her, she's carrying daffodils and after he tells her he hates them, she throws them away. (She doesn't tell him to FO like I would have.) Also, she was going to kill herself, but then she falls in love with him at that VERY moment. She devotes herself to him, cooking for him, telling him he's a genius. Blah, blah, blah. Is this supposed to be romantic? This sounds like pure male fantasy. A young, hot girl to wait on you and tell you you're a genius? Please.

My reaction
I'm not a romantic, okay!

Anyway, when he decides to kill himself, she says she will too. (Of course!) But to save her, he runs to the mental hospital instead.

So, that's his story.

What Else...

Nikanor is in the mental hospital after being interrogated about the money. He dreams that he's in an auditorium full of men being shamed into giving up their "foreign money." I'm sure this is a dig at Russian authorities and is real hilarious.

The guy who had his head removed at the theatre is also in the hospital raving about his head.

Rimsky's hair turned white after the zombie incident.

More Jesus story.

What will Jesus do?

What will happen next? I guess we'll meet Margarita. More married men will hate their wives and get hot mistresses, probably.


  1. "Rimsky later without a shadow. Poor Rimsky himself is nearly dragged to hell by a zombie but the rising sun saves him. (These are things that happened.)" I totally missed both these details, because there is only so much insanity that can be registered at a given time.

    I am 100% with you on the grossness of the Master (which, in itself, blech) and Margarita's relationship and also the Master sounds like a complete tool. Even separate from the gross relationship.

    1. Yeah, he's a master of what exactly?

      I think we see the insanity we want to see and disregard the rest. It's a lot.

  2. Just once I'd like to see a nice lady with a dumb husband she dislikes...

  3. I said this on Jenny's blog, but I am SOME PERCENTAGE SURE that the reason they wanted the "black magic" show explained is because #SovietUnion and they wanted all notion of God and magic/mythology eliminated from the public mindset.


    I'm super looking forward to reading further and finding out what the hell is going on.

    1. I'm pretty sure that's it. Heck, it's probably *satire* of the Soviet insistence on it.

  4. I also vommed at the story of Margarita being all docile and devoted. Like, you wish, Bulgakov. However, having read the next section, I am happy to report that Margarita gets some stuff to do that is NOT doting upon the Master. I'm -- kind of hoping she joins up with the devil's team? Could that be a thing that happens?


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