The Appearance of the Hero
Enter the Hero --The Russian is closer to "The Appearance of the Hero," "appearance" (iavlenie) being the word used for Christ's showing himself to the people in the Bible.
don't you like my poetry? The Master dislikes Ivan's poetry without ever having read it. Bulgakov is commenting on the low quality and unoriginal nature of accepted and published Soviet poetry. If Ivan is published and famous, it means he can't be good!
are your poems any good? "Horrible!"--literally "monstrous." Michael Glenny got this terribly wrong--his translation says "Stupendous." Even Ivan is aware that his officially-approved poems are no good.
the opera "Faust"--Bulgakov mentions his favorite opera here, elsewhere he merely uses the details
cap that had the letter M embroidered on it in yellow silk--Bulgakov too wore such a cap! The letter M mirrors another letter that appears alone in this chapter; and the color yellow is also not insignificant.
a sink with running water --Some older buildings still had no running water. The Master is said to be proud of this sink "for some reason." The reason us that in communal apartments sinks were normally only in shared areas of kitchen and bathroom. Unlike many people, the Master could wash in private.
the last words of the novel would be: "The fifth procurator of Judea, the knight Pontius Pilate" -- watch for these words in Bulgakov's novel. According to Farrar and the Brokgauz-Efron Encyclopedia Pilate was the sixth procurator. N. K. Makkaveiskii and G. Gretts considered him the fifth. Bulgakov may have chosen the latter for reasons of prosody and euphony (see Chudakova, M. A. Bulgakov-chitatel', 172-73 and Ianovskaia, Tvorcheskii put', 251).
my secret wife --The Master's affair with Margarita mimics that of Bulgakov with Elena Sergeevna Shilovskaia, who left her well-positioned military husband for the relatively less-well-off writer. When they met, they left a party on Bolshoi Gnezdnikovsky per. (just off Tverskaya--see map) to stroll around Moscow. At first their affair was difficult (both were married), but Elena Sergeevna eventually became Bulgakov's wife. The character of Margarita only appeared in the novel after Bulgakov met Shilovskaia.
a novel on such a strange subject --There are parallels here between Bulgakov's life and the Master's. Bulgakov's first novel, White Guard, was only partially published in a journal in 1925, but he read it to various literary groups, whose general reaction was that one could never get a work on such a subject published. The real attacks, however, came in 1926 when Bulgakov turned the novel into a hit play for the Moscow Art Theater under the name The Days of the Turbins. Nothing could have been stranger than Bulgakov's subject, which was about the fate of a pro-monarchist family in Kiev during the Civil War. The attacks described in this section of The Master and Margarita are clearly distillations of the ones various critics made on Bulgakov's plays.
Completely joyless autumn days --The time of year is meaningful to Russian readers, since autumn and spring were times of increased arrests, as the government tried to distract the populace from the regime's economic and cultural failures.
started to burn them Bulgakov himself did this with a number of his manuscripts (including an early version of Master and Margarita) in 1930, when he was effectively banned from the theaters. Many of the details of the Master's anxiety are autobiographical. In the mid 1930s Bulgakov suffered from agoraphobia and was treated by various methods.
in the middle of January The Master has clearly been arrested, as the detail of the coat with the buttons torn off shows (Soviet prisons of the time habitually cut if all buttons on the clothes of prisoners), as does the meaningful "knock at the door." The Master appears to have been held only three months, and then sent to the clinic.