• Carmen Milligan

Why is this taking so loooooong?

When I read that Mick Jagger had gotten the inspiration for the Rolling Stones' song "Sympathy for the Devil" from a book Marianne Faithful had given to him, I was immediately intrigued. That book was the English translation of "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov. Of course, I had to read it.

I ordered it, and when it arrived, I realized that I had purchased the copy from MacMillan's Collector's Library. It was clothbound, pocket-sized with gold-foiled edges and a ribbon marker, completed by a bespoke illustrated cover. The pages are high quality paper and are almost parchment in nature. Needless to say, THIS was not a book that one actually READS.


No, I had to order another one. The MacMillan keepsake copy was the Burgin/O'Connor translation. You'll want to put a pin in that for later, when you read my review.


I decided on another publisher, and ordered the Penguin 50th Anniversary Edition, which is part of the Penguin Classics Deluxe Collection. As a matter of note, it is illustrated by Christopher Conn Askew. I never want to ignore the value of a book's illustrator. This translation is by the award-winning team of Pevear and Volokhonsky, and is made from the complete and unabridged Russian text. With it's beautiful paperback cover and deckled edge pages, I could open this one without guilt.


And so I started my reading journey a month ago. A MONTH AGO. I am a relatively fast reader, but this one is really challenging my timetable. What is the issue here? I don't know! It's not difficult to read. It is certainly written at a higher reading level than most, but I can handle that. The satirical nature and themes of the Soviet Union under the Stalin regime, when this was penned, are surely lost on me, but not enough to cause this constant need to put the book down to digest what I have read. I even had to start another book, part of a YA series, to act as a "palate cleanser" when I needed a break from the devil and his entourage.


My edition has 412 pages, including endnotes, which I read; and, excluding the introduction and notes on the translation, which I did not read. I am, as I type this, on page 334. Hopefully, I will have a review on the Bubbly Bibbly website soon after the new year.

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