Bulgakov Master and Margarita
Photo: Storefront in Oxford.
Meet the Cat
"The cat proved to be not only a fare paying, but also law-abiding
animal. At the first shriek from the conductress it retreated, stepped
off the platform and sat down at the streetcar stop, stroking its whiskers
with the dime. But no sooner had the conductress yanked the bell rope
and the car begun to move off, than the cat acted like anyone else who
has been kicked out and is still determined to get to his destination.
Letting all three cars draw past him, the cat jumped onto the coupling
hook of the last car, latched its paw around some pipe sticking out of
the windows and sailed away, having saved himself a dime."
Voland makes a prediction
"Perhaps you know exactly how I am going to die?" inquired
Berlioz with understandable sarcasm at the ridiculous turn the conversation
seemed to be taking. "Maybe you'd like to tell me?"
"Certainly", rejoined the stranger. He looked Berlioz up and
down as if measuring him for a suit, muttered through his teeth something
like: "One, two... Mercury in the second house.. the waning moon...
six - accident... evening - seven," then announced loudly and cheerfully,
"Your head will be cut off!"
"It happened thus," began the prisoner readily. "The day
before yesterday, in the evening, I met a young man near the temple who
called himself Judas, from the town of Karinoth. He invited me to his
home in the Lower City and gave me supper."
"Is he a good man?" asked Pilate, a diabolical glitter in his
"A very good man and eager to learn," affirmed the prisoner.
"He expressed the greatest interest in my ideas and welcomed me joyfully."
"Lit the candles..." said Pilate through clenched teeth to the
prisoner, his eyes glittering.
"Yes", said Yeshua, slightly astonished that the Procurator
should be so well informed, and went on: "He asked me for my views
on the government. The question interested him very much."
"And so what did you say?" asked Pilate. "Or are you going
to reply that you have forgotten what you said?" But there was already
a note of hopelessness in Pilate's voice.
Ivan Homeless and the Master
...the visitor inquired, "What's your job?"
"I'm a poet," admitted Ivan with a slight unwillingness.
This annoyed the man.
"Just my bad luck!" he exclaimed, but immediately regretted
apologized and asked, "What's your name?"
"Oh," said the man frowning.
"What, don't you like my poetry?" asked Ivan with curiosity.
"No, I don't."
"What have you read?"
"I've never read any of your poetry!" said the visitor irritably.
"Then how can you say that?"
"Why shouldn't I?" retorted the visitor. "I've read plenty
of other poetry.
I don't suppose that by some miracle yours is any better, but I'm ready
to take it on trust. Is your poetry good?"
"It's terrible!" said Ivan boldly.
"Don't write any more!" implored the visitor.
"I solemnly swear not to."
"Although it was a hot spring day, there was a log fire in the vast
ancient fireplace, yet it gave no heat and instead the visitor felt a
wave of damp and cold as though he had walked into a tomb. In front of
the fireplace sat a great black tomcat on a tiger skin rug blinking pleasurably
at the fire. There was a table, the sight of which made the God-fearing
bartender shudder: it was covered with an altar cloth, and on top of it
was an army of bottles - bulbous, covered with mold and dust. Among the
bottles glittered a plate, obviously of solid gold. By the fireplace a
little man, red-haired and with a knife in his belt was roasting a piece
of meat on the end of a long steel sword. The fat dripped into the flames
and the smoke curled up the chimney [..]
"Glass of wine? White or red? What sort of wine do you like at this
time of the day?"
"Thanks but... I don't drink."
"You poor fellow! What about a game of dice then? Or do you prefer
some other game? Dominoes? Cards?"
"I don't gamble," replied the bartender, feeling weak and thoroughly
"How dreadful for you," said his host. "I always think,
present company excluded of course, that there's something unpleasant
lurking in people who avoid drinking, gambling, table talk and pretty
women. People like that are either sick or secretly hate their fellow
men. Of course there may be exceptions. I have had some outright scoundrels
sitting at my table before now!"
Master meets Margarita
Here his eyes opened wide, and as he whispered he gazed at the moon.
"She was carrying some of those repulsive yellow flowers. God knows
what they're called, but they are somehow always the first to appear in
spring. They stood out very sharply against her black coat. She was carrying
yellow flowers! What an ugly color. She turned off Tverskaya into a side
street and looked back. You know Tverskaya, there must have been a thousand
people around, but I knew that she saw no one but me. And I was struck
less by her beauty than by the extraordinary loneliness in her eyes."