• Current Reads

      Life after Life Jill McCorkle
      This Is Your Captain Speaking Jon Methven
      The Starboard Sea Amber Dermont
      Snark David Denby
      Bring Up the Bodies Hilary Mantel
  • Popular Tags

  • Recent Reflections

  • Categories

  • Moleskine’s All-Time Favorites

  • Echoes

    The HKIA brings Hong… on [788] Island and Peninsula 島與半…
    Adamos on The Master and Margarita:…
    sumithra MAE on D.H. Lawrence’s Why the…
    To Kill a Mockingbir… on [35] To Kill A Mockingbird…
    Deanna Friel on [841] The Price of Salt (Carol…
    Minnie on [367] The Rouge of the North 怨…
  • Reminiscences

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,083,145 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,710 other followers

Behemoth the Cat

Lo and behold, my new Behemoth t-shirt, a belated birthday present! I have never been a cat person. Cats seem distant and outlandishly independent. My only liaison with one is when I stopped by my friend’s house to feed a grey tabby while she was out-of-town. Kiyata would sit on my lap after she ate. Then there was capricious Owen, the residence orange tabby at a local indie where he scratched me for no reason. But one of the most memorable characters in literature is a cat named Behemoth in The Master and Margarita. The gun-happy, fast-talking cat is seen drinking vodka and riding the trolley in the novel. He is a member of the retinue of magician Professor Wolen who pays Moscow a visit and wrecks a havoc. Behemoth is a giant cat, extremely evil and font of firearms, who finds demonic pleasure in challenging people and putting everything in a blaze with a primus stove. Throughout the novel, he executes the most violent punishments, cuts off heads and is unbeatable with a browning in his hands. And when he gets accidentally hit by a bullet, he just needs a sip of gasoline to regain his strength. The chapter detailing the final adventure of this cat reads: “The stout cat-person tucked his primus under his arm, took the uppermost tangerine off the pyramid, ate it whole, skin and all, and took another.”

According to this this site, the name Behemoth has a biblical origin. In Job 40:10-19 is a description of a huge monster, in Hebrew called Behemoth. Bible translators didn’t know which way to go with this word for a long time because they didn’t know any beast with “a tail like a cedar and an enormous power in his abdominal muscles and loins”. Some chose for an elephant, others for an hippopotamus but they all knew that neither of these could be accurate. That’s why English translators leave the word Behemoth as it is. бегемот (begemot) is also Russian for hippopotamus. And the pretty Anna Richardovna, the secretary of Prosha Prochor Petrovoch, described Behemoth as “a tomcat, black, a colossus as an hippopotamus”. In circles of devil experts Behemoth is the devil of the desires of the stomach. It could explain why he’s so interested in the food at the currency store Torgsin. During my trip to Moscow in 2006, in the Bulgakov house at Bolshaya Sadovaya lazed this cat Stepan. The museum employees pretended not to know where he came from. I didn’t think it was a coincidence. A toast to Stepan and Behemoth!

7 Responses

  1. Man…my interest in reading The Master and Margarita (which has been on my kindle, untouched, for two and a half years now) just shot way up.

  2. Because of you, I’ve had this book loaded on my Kindle for probably two years. There it sits. If only for you, I needed to read this. If I would have seen this t-shirt while shopping, you know I would have had to buy it for you.

    • Sandy, take your time. This book requires more focus and attention and I think you’ll enjoy it more if you read it continuously without much distraction. 🙂

  3. Gosh — a Behemoth t-shirt! I’m green with envy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: