Русский > Персонажи > Демонические образы > Абадонна

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Abaddon only shows up in the novel in chapter 21, when Margarita is at Woland's before the ball starts. According to Woland he is «of a rare impartiality». He sympathizes «equally with both sides of the fight. Owing to that, the results are always the same for both sides». He emerged from the wall as the figure of some gaunt man in dark glasses. Especially these glasses produced a strong impression on Margarita. Abaddon is blind, in order to avoid sympathizing. He shows up only a few times, and only for a short while. Because «there has never yet been, and never will be, an occasion when Abaddon appears before someone prematurely».

At Woland's ball he is not always visible, only for some short moments, and surroundend by «several others who resembled Abaddon - dark-haired and young». When Baron Meigel was accused by Woland for being a stool-pigeon and a spy, Abaddon stood in front of him and took off his glasses for a second. At the same moment something flashed fire in Azazello's hand, something clapped softly, the baron began to fall backwards, «crimson blood spurted from his chest and poured down his starched shirt and waistcoat».


Abaddon is the English transliteration of the Hebrew word אבדון [avaddon], which means destruction or destroyer. In the Book of Job 26: 6 of the Old Testament, the word abaddon is used to describe the underworld or the place where death rules: «עָרוֹם שְׁאוֹל נֶגְדּוֹ וְאֵין כְּסוּת לָאֲבַדּוֹן» [ärôm sh'ôl neg'Dô w'ëyn K'šût läávaDôn] or «The realm of the dead is naked before God; Destruction lies uncovered».

In the Book of Revelation 9:11 of the New Testament the name Abaddon is mentioned as the angel of the abyss: «They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon, that is, Destroyer».

According to Boris Vadimovich Sokolov (°1957), the author of the Bulgakov Encyclopedia, Bulgakov would have found the name in the work of the Russian poet Vasily Andreevich Zhukovsky (1783-1852). In 1815, he had written the poem Abaddon, a free Russian translation of the epilogue of the epic poem Der Messias by the German poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724-1803).

Woland first mentions the name Abaddon in chapter 21 when he shows Margarita the crystal globe with which he looks at the world. Margarita leaned towards the globe and saw a war in «a chunk of land, washed on one side by the ocean». It's the setting of the Spanish Civil War that was fought from 1936 to 1939. Margarita made out a small female figure lying on the ground, and next to her, in a pool of blood, a little child with outstretched arms. «That's it,» Woland said, smiling, «he had no time to sin. Abaddon's work is impeccable».

Bulgakov was strongly committed with the Spanish Civil War. He wrote many letters about it. In the twelve years that he worked on The Master and Margarita, the scene with the special globe only showed up in 1937, when this war was on the radio daily. Woland's observation on the news on the radio is a referral to this daily reports. Bulgakov was convinced that wars could not be ended by words of indignation, but only by armed violence against the agressor. He's been a doctor himself during the Russian Civil War.

Bulgakov's description of «some gaunt man in dark glasses, who was exceptionally pale by nature» could also be a reference to the Russian Marxist revolutionary and theoretician Lev Davidovich Bronstein (1879-1940), better known as Leon Davidovich Trotsky, the first leader of the Red Army. If you think this is too far-fetched: Bulgakov had already made a link between Trotsky and Abaddon in his novel The White Guard from 1925. In that novel, doctor Aleksey Turbin talks to the young poet Ivan Rusakov who, after a cocaine addiction, has seen the light and warns the doctor for Satan. When the doctor asks him if he means Leon Trotsky, the poet replies: «Yes, that's the name he has adopted. But his true name is in Hebrew Abaddon, and in Greek Apollyon». Boris Sokolov adds to this that Abaddon's work is «just as flawless as Trotsky's activities» and that «they are both indifferent to the victims of war».


Abaddon is not present when the demonic characters gather on Sparrow Hills before returning to hell, and we don't hear of him anymore. Which may be good, since he only shows up «when his presence is required».

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