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Chapter 30: Time To Go 
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Post Chapter 30: Time To Go
The Master and Margarita are in their flat in Moscow, now that the devil has restored everything to just as it was before, like in a fairy tale ending. The lovers chat about whether they really were with Satan, illustrating that perhaps this fairytale has a fractured quality about it.

The Master sees his escape as more lunacy, after his asylum stint, and Margarita’s eyes flash with joy as she explains how their release has come at the expense of her becoming a witch. They dispose of enquiries from a first visitor by explaining that the previous resident of their flat has been arrested, and requesting the name of the enquirer, who of course vanishes immediately (so to speak) causing howls of mirth from Margarita. Bulgakov is satirising the politics of terror, which mean that any association with someone who has disappeared is extremely dangerous. Stating one’s name in such circumstances could become a one-way ticket to the gulag under the arrest quota system that Stalin implemented.

“Where else can such wrecks as you and I find help except from the supernatural?” This pointed question from the Master illustrates the quiet desperation of Soviet life, and surprisingly leads to their conversation being interrupted as Margarita welcomes a visitor: “Oh, its Azazello, how nice!”

As we might expect, the tame beginning of this chapter gives way to extraordinary scenes of high drama, mystery and electricity, in which the request from Christ to Satan in the last chapter to take the Master and Margarita is played out as they agree to take a little trip with messire. Azazello has by now downed three full glasses of brandy on an empty stomach, and Bulgakov gives the extremely bad advice that this is how all good men drink.

After Margarita repeats her allurid infatuation with the devil’s ability with guns, flirting like a drunken kitten, they burn away their suffering and their past in crimson pillars of fire, Azazello warns an old lady that he will cut off her arm if she tries to make the sign of the cross, and they all fly off on jet black stallions. The Master returns to the asylum for a final meeting with Ivan the poet, the only person he has been able to talk to in this time, in a conversation that leaves him wondering about his previous assertions about the reality of Satan. The chapter ends with events that suggest the whole story of the presence of the devil may have only been a fantastic dream.


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Post Re: Chapter 30: Time To Go
Robert Tulip wrote:
The Master and Margarita are in their flat in Moscow, now that the devil has restored everything to just as it was before, like in a fairy tale ending. The lovers chat about whether they really were with Satan, illustrating that perhaps this fairytale has a fractured quality about it.

The chapter ends with events that suggest the whole story of the presence of the devil may have only been a fantastic dream.

This is a bit of a convention in the older stories of magical realism, to have someone wake up from a dream or otherwise suggest that the whole thing was imagined. The movie "The Wizard of Oz" plays that card well (even though the book does no such thing - it was much less literary).

I suspect Bulgakov is throwing it down like a gauntlet of challenge. Combined with Ivan's struggle to believe his own eyes, at the beginning of the book, it seems to me this is a way of questioning the reader as to whether they can take the themes seriously, though not literally. It is already obvious we are not expected to believe that Satan appears as a black magic illusionist, holds a ghoulish ball for those who have died in deep sin, and travels about with a droll, self-important human-sized cat. But to have some sense of what drastic damage he can do, manipulating human weakness, and what possibilities may exist for treating with these powers and principalities to save some semblance of beauty and meaning in life, that requires more insight.

Robert Tulip wrote:
“Where else can such wrecks as you and I find help except from the supernatural?” This pointed question from the Master illustrates the quiet desperation of Soviet life, and surprisingly leads to their conversation being interrupted as Margarita welcomes a visitor: “Oh, its Azazello, how nice!”
There are modern advocates for the use of magical power. It was explained to me once, on the internet, that the procedure begins with determination for some goal, but requires that you envision some way it might actually come about. This is a dark variation on Brueggeman's "The Prophetic Imagination" in which one must imagine the world working more along the lines of shalom, because when the Putins and Mugabes of the world have persuaded you that the world can't possibly work any other way, they have won.

It's also much more human and hopeful than the dreary plodding urged by the crowd who chant "Namyo Ho Rengye Ko" for a Mercedes, or a promotion, or some such dull, sterile "achievement" in life. The "magic" they are urging is the magic of the karate master who can put his hand through a brick because he envisions it (and has spent years breaking thicker and thicker boards so that he builds up calcium deposits which strengthen the bones in his hand.)

Robert Tulip wrote:
Bulgakov gives the extremely bad advice that this is how all good men drink.
Hopefully anyone who has any chance of being offered three sherries one after another will already know this is irony.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
Robert Tulip
Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:28 am
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