Re: Chapter Thirteen: Enter the Hero
Since my main thesis here is becoming that Bulgakov's mastery is best displayed in his portrayal of reactions to the insane events narrated, this chapter finally brings me to the point of seeing, however reflected and distorted, Bulgakov's own reaction.
I like the "Russian dolls" of magical realism he gives us, in which the story of Pilate is his manuscript treated so badly by the authorities, but also the story shared by Woland/Satan with the pair with whom we began the story, Ivan and Berlioz. Still working on the question of what might be the purpose of this interesting double appearance.
I think this may turn out to be a key observation.
Art always offers the chance for this "secret freedom" from the pervasive systems of lies in any society.
Well, it doesn't offer a living, but it does offer a life. Note that later in the chapter, it is the response of his lover (Margarita? still unclear to me at this point) which brings on his madness, not the heartless cruelty of the literary authorities. It seems he might have made his peace with obscurity and lived with no public literary vocation if not for her insistence. Not sure what Bulgakov actually did that this might reflect.
There are several roles which could be interpreted here as that of Pilate. The authorities who doomed his story. The keepers of the asylum. The citizens who simply accept their domination. All of them go along to get along, as we say in America, not wanting to rock the boat or to threaten their own position.
Schizophrenia is not too strong an image for the utter disconnect between the idealism behind communism and the reality of ruthless domination that it became. But for those too shallow of soul to see the injustice of the ancien regime
except through the lens of their own oppression, the idealism was never meaningful and so the barbarity of communism was "just deserts" to those who were portrayed as "enemies of the people." In that sense even Lenin, who arguably cared more about revenge for his brother and "Who...whom" reversal of power than he did about actually improving society, could be seen as a Satanic figure and a creator of the schizophrenia of the sensitive.