«My name? Well... let's say it's Koroviev», he says to Nikanor Ivanovich, the chairman of the tenants' association of the building on Bolshaya Sadovaya street no. 302-bis. Koroviev usually wears a checkered suit, a jockey's cap and a pince-nez. Sometimes - at Patriarch's Ponds - he introduces himself as a choir-master, sometimes as the interpreter-translator of a foreign consultant who «needs no interpreting». He's more quiet than his companions Behemoth and Azazello, but he's a masterly intriguer with propositions as sound as possible, but with an amazing unsoundness in his elocution.
The description of Koroviev's dressing refers to the devil visiting Ivan Fyodorevich Karamazov in the novel The brothers Karamazov written by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821-1881).
His profession of choir master connects him to Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler, a character of Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffman (1776-1822). This Kapellmeister or bandmaster had a cat for companion . This cat was called Murr and it was of a special kind. Both characters appear in the complex satirical novel Lebens-Ansichten des Katers Murr nebst fragmentarischer Biographie des Kapellmeisters Johannes Kreisler in zufälligen Makulaturblättern (1819-1821), in two volumes. A planned third volume was never completed.
The name Koroviev is derived from the Russian word корова (korova) which means cow. Which reminds us of the Golden Calf with which Mephistoteles celebrates the omnipotence of money in the opera Faust of Charles Gounod (1818-1895).
His second pseudonym, Fagott, which Woland allotted him during the show at the Variety Theatre, connects him to the many musical themes in the story. His appearance makes us think of the long wind instrument which can be two meters long and which has a wide register. Fagott has got the capacity to change his voice.
When the demons are transformed again to their original form Koroviev changes in a dark-violet knight with a most gloomy and never-smiling face. This knight once made an unfortunate joke, according to Woland, the pun he thought up, in a discussion about light and darkness, was not altogether good.
This reminds to the knight Samson in the novel Don Quichote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), which Bulgakov adapted to a theatre play. In that story Samson disguises as the Knight of the White Moon who duels with Don Quichote and wins, after which Don Quichote falls into melancholy and dies.
Your guide through the novel
In this section are explained, per chapter, all typical notions, names of people and places, quotations and expressions from the novel with a description of the political, social, economical and cultural context.