The literary scenery
Russians have always played an important role in the most diverse forms of art, but they have, for sure, especially excelled in literature. Literature is also a really integrated part of the daily life of the Russians. Hundreds of expressions in Russian language refer to Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin (1799-1837) and show the importance of literature in «the Russian soul». It's probably this integration of literature in every Russian's life that made Stalin so fanatic to get it under control. An effort in which, fortunately, he never was completely succesful. Because, when literature is so closely interwoven with the cultural life of a nation, it always finds its way out.
It is striking that five Nobel Prizes for Literature were awarded to Russian writers, all in the Soviet period. Four of them were for authors who can be described as dissidents like Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (1890-1960) and Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), or who fled abroad or were expelled like Ivan Alekseevich Bunin (1870-1953) and Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky (1940-1996). About the fifth prize, assigned in 1965 to the law-abiding Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov (1905-1984), there are rumours of plagiarism.
In this part of the website we outline the landscape in which the authors from the time of Bulgakov had to try to survive.
This chapter is not intended to describe the Russian literature in detail. The number of major and influential Russian writers is just too big for this. But to understand The Master and Margarita, it may be useful to know to what Bulgakov refers to when he writes about Massolit and Griboedov or when he gives explicit or hidden links to classical Russian authors of to his contemporaries. That is why you will find here, in a nutshell, a brief overview of Russian literature, from the time of the tsars until now. With a special page about Aleksandr Pushkin, because he is is often quoted in The Master and Margarita.
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.