Mikhail Buglakovs The Master and Margarita
- IS THE MASTER AND MARGARITA INFLUENCED AS MUCH BY RASPUTIN AS IT IS BY STALIN?
asks Amy Britton
It has always been the standard interpretation of Mikhail Buglakovs The Master and Margarita that it is a critique of the totalitarian regime of the time, with the devil figure being generally viewed as an allegory of Stalin. Now, before we delve any deeper, let us be clear on some matters: all to often, we go beneath the surface and look for to much in novels, making them needlessly allegorical. If The Master and Margarita is read with sheer literalism, rather than allegorically, it becomes simply a very entertaining, almost rather silly romp through a world of magic and mayhem. But it is quite obvious that this is not the intended way of reading it; it is most definitely an allegorical novel of some description. Secondly, I am not denying that Stalin is the major influence on the novel, considering the context of its writing and Buglakovs ongoing battles with him. But critics rarely get past Stalin when viewing The Master and Margarita, whereas I see every possibility that Buglakov could have drawn some subtle inspirations from his nations history as well as its then-present.
Whilst there is a lot of mystery surrounding Rasputins death, it is generally acknowledged that he appeared virtually invincible in 1914 Khionia Guseva, a former prostitute who had become a disciple of the monk (and former friend, now an enemy, of Rasputins) Iliodor, plunged a knife into him at such an extent that his entrails are reputed to have been left hanging out. The later addition to the myth is that on December 16th, 1916, a group comprising Prince Felix Yusupov, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and the right-wing politician Vladmir Purishkevich attempted to kill him in a range of ways before throwing him into the icy Neva river. When his body was recovered, the autopsy revealed him to have been poisioned, shot four times, badly beaten and drowned. The pattern of attempted murders which he survived before the drowning appears highly influential on Buglakovs portrayal of the seemingly immortal cat.