The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov – Quick Book Summary



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“Manuscripts don’t burn.”

– Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita


In this book summary, we explore Mikhail Bulgakov’s acclaimed novel, “The Master and Margarita.” Delve into the mysterious and fantastical world of Moscow, where the devil and his entourage wreak havoc.

Book Information

  • Title: The Master and Margarita
  • Author: Mikhail Bulgakov
  • Genre: Fantasy, Satire, Magical Realism
  • Publication Year: 1967 (posthumous)

Brief Overview

“The Master and Margarita” intertwines two distinct narratives: one follows the devil and his eccentric associates visiting Moscow, and the other recounts the love story between the Master, a suppressed writer, and Margarita, his devoted lover.


Author’s Background

Mikhail Bulgakov, a Russian playwright and novelist, lived from 1891 to 1940. He faced challenges with censorship during his life but left behind a remarkable literary legacy.

Publication Context

Due to its controversial themes and criticism of Soviet society, the book was not published during Bulgakov’s lifetime. It first appeared in incomplete and censored forms in the 1960s, and the complete version was only published in 1973.

Character Summary

Main Characters

  • The Devil (Woland): A charming and enigmatic figure who causes chaos in Moscow.
  • Margarita: The passionate and loyal lover of the Master.
  • The Master: A tormented writer whose novel about Pontius Pilate is central to the story.

Character Development

The characters undergo a transformation as they confront their desires, fears, and societal constraints.

Plot Summary


The devil and his peculiar entourage descend upon Moscow, exposing the city’s corruption and hypocrisy. Meanwhile, the Master’s novel about Pontius Pilate and his encounter with Yeshua Ha-Notsri (Jesus) serves as a parallel narrative. As Margarita seeks to save the Master, she strikes a deal with the devil.


Set in Moscow during the 1930s, the story weaves between reality and the supernatural.

Themes and Motifs

Key Themes

  • Good vs. Evil: The struggle between morality and temptation.
  • Freedom and Artistic Expression: The suppression of creativity in a totalitarian society.

Motifs and Symbols

  • The Devil’s Entourage: Representations of human vices and desires.
  • Woland’s Visit: A critique of Soviet society.

Takeaway Morals


  • Consequences of Actions: Choices have repercussions, both good and bad.
  • Sacrifice and Love: The power of Love to endure hardship and redemption.


These morals encourage reflection on personal decisions and relationships in the face of adversity.


Literary Devices

Bulgakov employs satire, allegory, and magical realism to craft a multifaceted narrative that challenges conventional norms.

Style and Tone

The writing exhibits a blend of wit, humour, and philosophical depth, underscoring the fantastical elements of the story.

Critical Reception

Initial Reception

The novel initially faced challenges due to its perceived subversive nature. However, it gained immense popularity and critical acclaim posthumously.

Current Standing

“The Master and Margarita” is now hailed as one of the greatest Russian novels of the 20th century.

Personal Response

Personal Opinion

“The Master and Margarita” captivated me with its imaginative storytelling and sharp social commentary. I enjoyed exploring the duality of characters and the profound themes embedded in the narrative.


I highly recommend this book to those who relish thought-provoking literature that challenges societal norms and delves into the human psyche.

About the Author


Mikhail Bulgakov was a Russian author known for his wit and unique storytelling. Born in Kyiv, he faced censorship and struggled to publish his works during his lifetime.

Literary Career

Bulgakov’s other notable works include “Heart of a Dog” and “A Country Doctor’s Notebook.”

Book Details

Publication Details

“The Master and Margarita” was first published in its complete form in 1973, years after the author’s death.

Structural Details

The book consists of three intertwined narratives, spanning approximately 400 pages.



“The Master and Margarita” is a masterpiece of Russian literature that weaves together fantasy, satire, and love in a tumultuous Moscow setting.

Final Thoughts

Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel remains a timeless exploration of the human condition, leaving readers with a lasting impression of its magical and philosophical themes.

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