Thursday, March 8, 2012

March Prompt - A Classics Challenge

I read the best book this month, for this prompt! In March, those participating in the Classics Challenge have been asked a number of questions on a setting in their classic read.
   This month I read The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov: here's my review.
   The setting is in the chapter entitled Satan's Rout! It is an amazing palace in which Satan holds his ball.
   The palace is clearly in another dimension from the world we know, or some kind of supernatural powers are at play, because the massive palace is all situated in a tiny fifth floor apartment in Moscow!

   It is speculated that the setting for Satan's ball is modelled off a Spring Festival that was hosted by the US Ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1935, which was held at Spaso House. Wikipedia says that the decorations surpassed imagination, with a forest of young birch trees being brought into the chandelier room, a dining table covered in Finnish tulips, and an avery made from fish netting full of pheasants, parakeets and one hundred zebra finches. There were also animals roaming around, on loan from the Moscow zoo. Mikhail Bulgakov apparently attended this Spring Festival, which gave him the inspiration for Satan's ball.

Like the rest of this bizarre and wonderful book, the Spring Ball that Satan hosts is a feat of imagination. Margarita is the hostess, and she is bathed in a special serum beforehand, which makes her young and beautiful, and she hosts the whole ball naked (but wearing amazing shoes made of rose petals). Margarita enters the palace through a lush jungle. The first room is full of white tulips, and there is a full orchestra. The next room was full of roses and camellias, with fountains of champagne. Another room contained a jazz band made up of chimpanzees, gibbons, mandrils and marmosets. Butterflies fly over the dancing guests. There is a massive pool with a crystal bottom, full of Brandy with people swimming in it. And there is a extremely grand staircase, at the top of which Margarita meets Satan's guests.
   The mood is certainly intoxicating, frivolous, and over-the-top. It is decadent, and demonstrates Satan flaunting his influence over humans who are too easily tempted to be drunk and naked, and romp with the devil!
   This setting is certainly the culmination of the storyline, and Bulgakov lets his imagination go most extravagantly!


  1. This has been on my TBR list but your post is making me want to move it up to the top of the pile!

    1. Thanks Amy. If you get a chance to read this, I highly recommend it - but be prepared to let go and just go along for the ride!

  2. I'm going to have to re-read this book. I read it years ago-though never finished it.

  3. This does sound bizarre - and one I'd really like to read.