Booking Through Thursday asks:
If your house was burning down and you could save just one book from your collection … what would it be?
I am taking the one book that never exhausts its possibilities, that which I re-read on a regular basis: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Set in the iron curtain of a society that is Soviet Union in 1930s, The Master and Margarita, banned in Bulgakov’s lifetime, is his response to this fear-struck, panic-stricken era. Despite the atmosphere of terror that deepened all through the years he was working on the novel, the book takes on a surprisingly light tone, one of multifaceted humor, without compromising its philosophical depth. It is Bulgakov’s embittered and sarcastic response (and indictment) to his era’s denial of imagination and its wish to strip the world of divine qualities. This novel is a product of reconciliation of the absolute opposites: how would anyone ever conceive a world in which God and Satan work toward the same end, and that good is not necessarily better than evil? This is only possible through Bulgakov’s enduring experiences during the remarkable era that powerfully affected his perspectives on politics and life.
If you haven’t read it, get the translation by Diane Burgin available under Vintage.