This week’s book was a very old favourite of mine – Mikhail Bulgakhov’s ‘The Master and Margarita’. If you haven’t read it – all I can say is get a copy. It’s a lovely, funny, sad, enchanting book which details the visit of the Devil and his entourage to Moscow, a novelist known only as ‘The Master’ who is incarcerated in a lunatic asylum after writing a novel about Pontius Pilate, and Margarita, the woman who loves him.
This book has two parallel narratives; one is the novel written by ‘The Master’ , dealing with the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ from the perspective of Pontius Pilate, and the second is the romp of Satan and his retinue through Moscow as they prepare for their annual ball, at which Margarita will be hostess. Both narratives involve human weakness, frailty and redemption – in the novel Yeshua points out to Pilate that ‘Cowardice is the greatest sin’ – and in modern Moscow we see greed, arrogance and deceit get punished to varying degrees.
As for the redemption – read it and see. There are two sections of this book I don’t read often in public because they make me cry – I’ll just say ‘Frieda and the handkerchief’ and the following section about Pilate:
“For about two thousand years he has been sitting on this platform and sleeping, but when the full moon comes, as you see, he is tormented by insomnia. It torments not only him, but also his faithful guardian, the dog. If it is true that cowardice is the most grievous vice, then the dog at least is not guilty of it. Storms were the only thing the brave dog feared. Well, he who loves must share the lot of the one he loves.'”
And the end – yup – that makes me weepy as well.
Go on – give it a read!